Monday, August 26, 2013

one day i'm an honored citizen, the next a parasite

no wonder i've woken up, fretting, in the wee hours, unable to sleep. welcome to the roller-coaster of life. ah, was it just a week ago they put me in a parade, cut a cake for me and gave me a little pin, later a delicious barbeque where work friends and friends from out of town mingled, as i hoped they would, thus bringing the two lives i've led together? 

and i surprised myself. i smoozed and smiled so much the muscles in my face were tired when i got back to the lookout. a wonderful day. yes, i was disappointed in one thing: i'd hoped they might give me money. ah, foolish hope, it makes us keep chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. no, no check, no provision for my advanced old age, if i'm unlucky enough to get there! once i can't work, it's the poor-house for me. 

that's not what i'm fretting about. i've had my fun, able to be creative my whole existence, travel the world. yes, extremely and gratefully lucky. nobody gets out of life alive. and that brings me to the downer: being accused of being a free-loader and parasite. i suppose if you live long enough in america, it has to eventually happen. unlike the eskimos, i haven't been left in the snow to die (yet). no, i'll limp along, paying almost half of my social security for 'free' medicare. 

the most terrible thing about our system: getting caught up in it, treated by doctors and nurses as though i were made of glass at 73, despite my grandfather living to a hundred, despite the fact one fire lookout still working at 87. i have never, ever felt like an old relic until my night in the hospital. my usual  doctor, barry furst,  semi-retired, and i got thrown to the wolves. not that everyone hasn't been extremely kind and helpful, except they scare me to death! 

barry always warned me about too many tests. though he did get me  off for a colonoscopy, to a prostate doc, and to a nephrologist (kidneys), he never used scare tactics to do so. and he said, 'they will find something.' how true that has  become. okay, i'll try your cholesterol medicine. alas, it gave me a rash on my ankles and i felt like a lead soldier on waking in the morning. yes, maybe my blood-pressure a little high. i'll try your lisinoprol. two weeks later i have what's called in the literature 'a useless cough.' not very reassuring for someone who's had asthma attacks in the past. 

hmm, okay, i threw out all the meat and cheese in fridge, cut out as much dairy as i could, tossed some prepared meals (indian, thai), and so on. i began checking my blood-pressure through the day so see the pattern. barry always said, 'if your blood-pressure ever drops to normal, you don't have a problem.' i've discovered it's highest when i lay around, like when i wake up in the morning. once i'm active, it starts dropping, and by the end of the day i'm back to as normal as i'll ever be. in the hospital i lay around all the time, hardly allowed to lift a spoon. and all those beautiful, attentive nurses, they certainly made my heart go pitter-patter. 

my credo: at some point i have to stop listening to other people and listen to myself. hence, fifty years on a mountain top, as odd as that makes me. this week i hope to re-gain my youth, despite a visit to a doctor (not barry) and a blood-test. oh, the confession, they did find a true problem. my sodium 'dangerously' low. damn, to shore up my kidneys, i'd been drinking lots of water. turns out that can kill you. and  likely my moment of dis-orientation came from it. now i drink less water, more apple juice, and, hallelujah, i can put salt on my tomatoes once again.

here are the first photos from my celebration day: with more to come. 

          "Never treat someone like they are old," said the Buddha