Old in a World Full of Youngsters

I am an old person, in Nature’s eyes anyway, and the old are ever mystified. My groom and I: constantly mystified.We’re mystified by the packaging our razors come in. We need to enlist the help of our young people to crack them open.  We’re mystified too by the activities of these young people, who can watch television without a television and play live card games with people in other countries.

We are mystified and we’re frequently in pain: After raking all day, David walks into the house looking like a human andiron. Just that bent and bow-legged. After doing God knows what, I wake one day with a sensation in my back of a knife soaked in acid and plunged in deep.

This was just last weekend. It felt as if a rib had tilted like that one rogue slat in a set of Venetian blinds and was digging into my lungs. I couldn’t sit or recline or breathe without feeling stabbed. I prowled the house all weekend, vacuuming, washing windows, even refinishing the top of an old coffee table.

By Sunday afternoon, though, I was a wreck, and so began licking up painkillers the way an anteater licks up ants. I swallowed aspirin at 2pm, Excedrin at 6:00, Advil at 10:00. No relief. At midnight I threw down a couple of fingers of whiskey, hoping that would knock me out but no dice there either. Finally, rummaging around in the guest bathroom I came upon some expired Percocet from who knows what painful procedure, fired one down, and found relief at last at 3 a.m….

Relief that was gone with the morning dew.

So, the second my chiropractor’s office opened at 8 a.m., I called. He saw me just hours later, asked many good questions and told me to get myself to Prompt Care right away, just in case one of my organs was about to explode. 

Then, he did an adjustment on me. He pinged at my sad little skeleton like a man tuning a piano. He pinged and he thought. He pinged and he listened.

And finally he sent me home with instructions to ice the area, 20 minutes on, two hours off, for the next 24 hours – which I did. And it worked. And I was CURED.

But the story would not be complete if I did not also relate what happened mid-way through the regimen, the morning after I saw the chiropractor and before my appointment with Prompt Care: 

I went to the freezer to get the last of the bright-blue icepacks, whose fellows, all thawed now, still lay about on the floor around my bed.

But this icepack with its array of purplish-blue cells held in a thick Zip-Lock bag did not look like the other icepacks.

“Some new kind I guess,” is all I thought and took it to the couch where I wedged it against my back and commenced writing busily away on my laptop – until about 30 minutes in, when I realized that this was no icepack at all. This was a bag filled with Jell-O shots, many tiny cuplets of blueberry-flavored vodka, long since stashed in our freezer by the aforementioned young people.

What can I say? By the time I’d finished the day’s second shower, this one to quell my distinctly boozy aura, I had passed through Mystification to arrive in the land of Acceptance.

Which frankly isn’t a bad dwelling-place at all for an old person in a world full of youngsters.

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7 thoughts on “Old in a World Full of Youngsters

  1. Your work ethic brought you down. I sympathize with you for your pain and efforts toward a cure. At the same time, I have to laugh, for you are good humored enough to compare your rib to a rogue slat in a venetian blind.

    But horrible to consider what happened to good vodka at your house. There should be a law against such a combination. It puts me in mind of what has been happening to so-called martinis which appear now in horrible combinations, an insult to the original martini, one of God’s blessings.

  2. Yesterday, at Las Vegas Desert Orthopedic, after two weeks of lying on my dining room tile floor, stoned on Oxycodone, Valium and Soma, with a stack of favorite books in safe reaching distance and my Bose playing an eternal round of of Japanese flute music, I finally met a spine specialist, to review recent MRI results. I thought of my friend Terry, her prior article about neck pain, massage therapy and the healing so many people need for so many different reasons. As I sat looking out a huge window of the buildings 4th floor toward the majestic Sheep Mountain, with it’s sandy rock- strewn landscape, I rehearsed various scenarios of what my fate may soon become. My head hung in defeat, a broken warrior. I envisioned myself telling younger guys, “Hey, I use to kick box too you know. I teach, ah, use to teach, martial arts..” and “You know, at one time, I could run 4 miles a day, do 8 hard rounds on the bag, jump in the ring and spar another four, etc.” then the beauty of Sheep Mountain and the wide blue high desert sky brought me back to the now moment, like the quick snap of a Zen Masters stick, awakening me from a revelry of ignorance. In stepped a tall Italian man, resembling Big Bird in blue scrubs. His hips came to my shoulders and his nose looked dangerous, like it was capable of pecking me to death, long and sharp. I had one of those very weird moments were you reflect and contemplate things, like, “I never knew or thought someone so tall, thin and bird-like would become a surgeon.. Must be the opiates.” After customary greetings and before I could speak about myself, he said, “You have problems I see,” as he slapped the MRI film into the clamps on the lit screen, faster than a short order cook at a cheap but busy diner.

    “Ya, I guess so,” I meekly replied, as if all testosterone had drained from my body. My Marine Corps tattoo: “USMC” in Japanese script with my unit’s tiger symbol on my right ankle, betrayed any sense of lingering machismo. “Yes, you have four bulged discs. It must be painful, but I’ll give you some medicine when you leave.” “Wonderful,” I thought, “Now I’m a certified junkie.” With a long pointer, a sort of antenna with a blue ray laser beam at the tip, Dr. Big Bird went on to expertly define the skeletal picture of my vertebrae impressions. I was high when I arrived and had taken another Percocet in waiting at the office water fountain. It is excruciating to sit, you see. As the opiates sailed through my body and reached my head, Big Bird lost me somewhere in between…

    “Your L5-S1 is dessicated, narrowed and demonstrates a 4.6 posterior bulge..there is severe left foraminal narrowing..the ligamenta shows anthro..blah, blah, blah..” Not happening. It was like attending a scholastic lecture offered by Saint Jerome as he translated the Latin Vulgate from the Classical Greek. I did what all students do when they do not understand a word of what is being said, I nodded in full agreement, as if I too had attended UCLA Medical School.

    After my lecture series on lumbar complications and options of treatment, declining surgery as if he had offered me poison, The Bird Man handed me exit documents and another prescription for America’s answer to every challenge, pills. Like Terry at home, I left resigned to fate. I walked, no, floated, to my car. Once inside, I sat looking out as Vegas traffic streamed by and reflected on aging, pain, hurry, conflict and all things not so good. My thoughts took me to the place of a crippled catatonic, or as combat Marines name, “The Two Thousand Yard Stare.” My mouth slightly ajar, looking at everything, but nothing. Coming out of my stupor I thought, “It’s a beautiful day though. I’ll put the top down. I may become a has been, but I got soul.” I put my shades on as the rag top folded back, then drove out of the parking lot.

    Such was my leave of the good and kindly Dr. Big Bird. The prescription and remedy was right in front of me, another Zen moment. It was here, right now, in my classic XJS 95′ Jaguar, with Jim Morrison and the Doors, opiates and a Nevada blue sky. Depression faded as Morrison belted out; “Let it roll baby roll..Let it roll baby roll..let it roll..all night long..!” I nodded in agreement to Morrison, but this time..I understood.. and blasted the music louder, in rebellion of all things that bound the human condition to suffering. I cruised. I sang. I grooved with The Doors.

    My favorite poet of the 60’s gave me the solution: “let it roll.”

    1. This has to be the longest comment I have seen on my blog. As the moderator I often compress remarks but what could I take out HERE? The serenity your broke through to at the end was wonderful to read about …

      and I am so sorry for your pain, you with the Buddhist name! What does it mean?

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