Just in case anyone is checking up on me (yeah, right!), the reason my post is late today is that I spent the entire morning sitting in medical centers. That seems to happen more as I age, not just because a variety of minor ailments keep popping up but because now that I’m on Medicare, my doctor, the good Dr. G, encourages me to come in for regular check-ups. From 7:45 to 8:30, I was at our local St. Jude Heritage Medical Group lab, where my doctor had ordered some blood tests. Nothing new, just keeping track of Older Eyes’ blood pressure and blood sugar, both of which can run a little high without medication. Then it was on to the x-ray center of the main St. Joesph Healthcare Center to have my wrist x-rayed. The wrist I hurt in a fall back in January. The wrist that hasn’t gotten any better in spite of an assortment of supports and braces. After x-rays, it was upstairs to see my new orthopedic surgeon and hand specialist, Dr. B … after a wait in the crowded waiting room, of course. With the exception of one boy sitting with his Mom, gingerly holding his wrist, everyone in the waiting room was old, even compared to me. Canes, walkers and wheelchairs abounded. Back in the days when my trips to the orthopedic surgeon were for my athletic if someone incautious son, Aaron, I don’t remember there being so many oldsters. Could it be that doctors refer us older folk to particular surgeons, those with the disposition to deal with curmudgeons? Could it be that only those on Medicare have insurance that covers such elective procedures as sprained wrists or broken legs? Who knows?
Dr. B, tanned and buff with salt and pepper hair and an assortment of tattoos on his forearms, bounded into the examination room, introduced himself as Don B. (not Dr. B), offered a firm handshake and proceeded to tell me in detail what he’d found on my x-rays. Dr. B, by the way, is sixty-two and somehow attached to a Navy Seal team that visited Afghanistan a few months ago (Get the picture?). There are certain phrases you don’t want to hear from a doctor. Torn (although it is better than broken). Some discomfort for the rest of your life. Brutal surgery giving only palliative relief. At your age (as is, I wouldn’t do it at your age). I have a chronic tear of the scapholunate ligament. That’s the one that would require the brutal but ineffective surgery that Dr. B wouldn’t do if he were my age. Fortunately, that’s the least painful of my injuries. The other more painful injury, a tear of the triangular fibrocartilage complex, can be repaired by a routine arthroscopic procedure. I’ve had a tear of the triangular fibrocartilage complex myself for four years, Dr. B said. I take care of it and it’s fine. Older Eyes hears: I have one of those and I’m a Navy Seal. Stop your whining. So, I’m in an even larger wrist brace, on stronger anti-inflammatories and in for some physical therapy. And in seven weeks, we’ll see where we are. And sixty-nine is the new forty-nine. Yeah, right.