Smooth operator

Whenever I hear someone say, “You’re only as old as you think you are,” I immediately know two things about them.

One, they’re a lot younger than me.

And two, they have no idea what they’re talking about.

The theory makes sense: If you think young, you are young. It also implies if you keep thinking young, you’ll stay young. In reality, it’s doo-doo.

The fact is, we age — every man jack and lady jill of us. Sure, some of us age faster, slower, better or worse than others. But time marches on … and on us. If it hasn’t by the time your 70th birthday rolls around, it’s because you boogied across The Rainbow Bridge a few decades ago.

Aging being only a state of mind? Hell, even the state of your mind isn’t just a state of mind: It slows and slips, inevitably.

And speaking of inevitabilities, another one is aches and pains. I’m not talking about aches and pains from injury; I’m talking about the ones from nothing at all. They may shift – first your left knee, your hands and neck; then it’s both hips and your right ankle. After that, maybe an elbow or a toe or something. Specific pains may come and go, but you can bet your bip they’re there to stay.

Have only one consideration about pain: Is it just a pain … or is it the start of A Nightmare in the Making? Let’s get real: We’ve all known someone in their Golden Years who gets a small nagging pain in some appendage or other…and then a few months later, they’re sleeping with the worms.

Pain … and pains

The pain in my shoulder suddenly appeared one morning, and there it stayed. It hurt only when I lifted my arm palm up and the pain wasn’t terrible, so I just ignored it. But after five months of ignoring it, I made an appointment with Dr. Dan Bullock.

My own diagnosis was this: Whatever was wrong with my arm was no big deal. I figured it was a muscle tear of some sort, and eventually it’d go away. But just on the odd chance it could be ANitM, I was getting a professional opinion.

I showed up at Dr. Dan’s new lush quarters, signed in, was asked for my copay, and was handed a bunch of forms to fill out. Then I was told to go to another window for an additional sign-in, this one for my X-rays.

I filled out another form, and the nice lady womaning the desk asked for another copay — $25.

I handed her a 50 dollar bill.

“Sorry,” she said, “but I can’t make change for that.”

Must be nice to be trusted, I thought.

“OK,” I said, and handed her my credit card.

She put it in the machine, waited a few seconds, and then looked up at me.

“It’s been rejected,” she said.

“Try it again?” I said.

She did … and it got rejected again. And again.

“That card’s good,” I said. “I just bought gas with it.”

“Oh, it’s not your card,” she said. “It’s the machine.”

So there I am, standing in a brand-new, state of the art, multi-million dollar facility, and they can’t take either cash or credit cards. What’s next? Barter? IOU’s? A hostage?

Luckily, it was none of those things. The lady said they’d send the bill, something she was obviously used to saying, and doing.

Next I had my X-rays, then it was Fill In The Forms Time.

Bad form

Because I was seeing Dr. Dan for a new complaint, I had to fill out new forms. After the first two, I realized a lot of the info was redundant. I mean, did they really need to be reminded of my birth date, home address and phone number five times in one appointment? Really?

But the redundancies paled compared to one section on one form. It asked if I’d ever had any operations, when they were, and what their purposes were. At this point, I’d had it. Enough was too much.

I’ve had three operations — 1. An appendectomy. 2. A heart bypass. 3. A hip replacement. Obviously, I had the last was so I didn’t spend the rest of my days limping like Grandpappy Amos, and I had the other two so the rest of my days wouldn’t be numbered in double digits. Lemme tell ya, I don’t have much dignity, but for what little dignity I do have, giving a serious answer to those questions was beneath it.

After filling in the What and When sections on the for, when it came to Purpose, I wrote, respectively:

1. To have a mid-sized scar on my abdomen.

2. To have a startlingly-huge scar on my chest.

3. To have a big-ass scar on my dupa.

Yeah, it was snarky, even adolescently snotty, but I knew it wouldn’t matter since no one actually reads that tripe anyway.

Next was my appointment with the doc.

As much as I have no faith in much of anything, I have complete faith in Dr. Dan.

First, he has sechel (Yiddish for “smarts.”).

Second, he’s thorough. He examines fully, and he follows up.

Third, as busy as he is, I never get the feeling I’m on a conveyor belt in Medi-Mart USA.

And fourth, he has a good sense of humor. Specifically, he laughs at my jokes. Most specifically, he laughs at the jokes I explain to him.

Anyhow, the exam itself was the least tedious part of the appointment.

He checked my X-rays, then asked me a bunch of questions. After that, he had me do this, that, and the other thing with my arm.

Then he gave his diagnosis: Whatever it was, it wasn’t gonna kill me. Most likely it was a muscle tear and would probably clear up on its own.

So his diagnosis was the same as mine.

Was I surprised?

Not really. After all, as I already told you, the man has sechel.

And he’s not only smart, but he’s cool as well. After all, he is my hip doctor.