Saturday, April 6, 2019

When it comes to aging gracefully… er, 5 things I’d like to see before I go

This past Tuesday night while brushing my teeth, I felt a sharp pain in my lower right back.  I stood there at my bathroom sink, praying please go away, please go away…  It didn’t go away of course, just increased in intensity.  I KNEW what it was—kidney stones.   When I was having all those issues with my left kidney in November & December, my urologist told me I had them on my right side too, eventually we’d have to address that issue.  I guess that time had come.

Long story short, I called 911—got a pair of paramedics who kept reminding me they couldn’t give me anything for the pain everytime I cried out, got taken to Mercy Hospital (at my insistence), was doped & wound up staying 3 days while waiting for 2 stones to pass—a day longer than necessary because I passed out while signing my first release.  I woke up back in my hospital bed with a FALL RISK band on my arm.

I laid there thinking: since leaving UPMC at the start of 2015, this was my 12th trip to the Emergency room, my 7th ride by ambulance, my third extended stay at a hospital. 

What the heck is going on?  In the 28 years I worked as a computer analyst, I’d been to the hospital exactly ONE time, when I broke my leg in 2002.  

I know that time spares no one, but let’s face it—I am not aging gracefully.

Last May, my left leg swelled up to double it’s size from the knee down.  It stayed that way for 2-3 months too.  I should’ve had it looked at, but frankly I was doctored out—and afraid they’d tell me I had 6 months to live

I don’t want to make light of these health concerns, and I realize things could be far worse; but to be honest it’s been difficult for me to stay upbeat about things in general.  With all these medical emergencies and the chronic TMJ, I’ve been struggling with some serious bouts of depression. 

It’s also gotten me to thinking a lot about my parents deaths (my dad died when he was only 63 years old, my mom at 64) and sometimes I can’t help but wonder, at the rate I’m going, if I’m going to even make it to my sixties. 

Death, if you’re listening—here are 5 things I’d very much like to see before you tell me it’s time to go.

1.  The Brady House rebuild

Ever since HGTV bought the “actual” Brady house and began construction on its interior to match the original show, I’ve been watching the Youtube snippets with bated breath— “They found the 1969 avacado green refrigerator with the water & ice dispenser in the door!”  “The original manufacturer of those orange formica counters is still in business and has those countertops in stock?  Groovy!”  

C’mon Death—this reality series is set to premiere in September 2019, PLEASE LET ME REMAIN HERE LONG ENOUGH TO SEE THIS SHOW.  It’s only 6 months away, is that too much to ask?   If it helps, I’ll probably have a heart attack when the house is completed and the original Brady kids take us on a tour!

2.  A Democratic president again

When I told my friend Danielle that I’m partial to Kamala Harris winning the Democratic Primary, she said “Black AND a woman?  Did you forget where we live?  This is the land of hillbillies and rednecks!”  

She has a point, but I remain hopeful.  While I’d be over the top to see ANYONE with a hint of decency & compassion in the White House (I’ve just ruled out Trump and every GOP politician btw), I think Kamala would be the perfect bridge between moderate & progressive Dems.  (I’d happily vote for Joe Biden though.)

C’mon Death—it’s only 2 years away, it’s not like I’m asking for the moon here.  And I’ll make your job a little easier—if Trump somehow gets re-elected, I promise to knot something around my neck and hang myself in my bedroom closet.  Your job will be done.

3.  Donald Trump sent to jail

Death, if you’re going to let me live long enough to see a Democratic president, you might as well stretch it out a bit further and let me see some justice get served—I’ve no desire to become a ghost & haunt Mar-A-Lago, but if this dictator-wannabe isn’t in Federal prison or getting his trump roasted by the Devil himself, then I am NOT ready to meet my maker.

4.  My first Social Security check

Seriously, I can’t stick around long enough to collect my first check?  It’s not like I’m waiting until FRA (full retirement age).  I plan to sign up early—like 5-6 years from now.  Hey, I’ve seen that FICA deduction on every paycheck of mine since my first job as a dishwasher at the Olde Southern Pancake House in the summer of 1978.  Let me have this.

5.  My 50th Social Security check

What, you’re only going to let me collect ONE?   I deserve more than that!

Well, if I have to go back to the hospital soon, so be it.  I think they like me.  During my (second) check-out, while I was standing at the nurses station signing various release forms, a hospital worker wheeled a food cart from the last room and parked it next to me while he went into the restroom.  On the cart were 3 full breakfast trays.  I said “A couple of the patients didn’t want their breakfast?”  Deanna (the nurse) said “They got early releases, before the breakfast trays were distributed.”  I said “So these go back to the kitchen & get recycled into tomorrow’s meal?”

She said “Oh no… everything on those trays is disposed of.  Nothing is returned to the kitchen.”   I said “But—but those fruit cups are sealed, so are the apple crumbcakes and oatmeal packs and juice jugs!”   She said “I know!  All tossed.”   I said “Can I take them home with me?”  Deanna said “Seriously?”  I said “Yes, us single guys have no shame.”

Dr. Jackson (who was standing on my other side, looking at his clipboard) said “Doug should I scoot down to the Marriott and get you some soaps & shampoos?”  The other nurses laughed and I told him that wouldn’t be necessary as I filled my bag from the trays.  The food service worker came out of the restroom then, and the doctor said “Chnta, is the soap pump still on the wall in there?”  Chinta nodded yes with a confused look on his face, and Dr. Jackson looked at my bag of salvaged food and said “Okay… I was just making sure!”

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