Monday, June 4, 2018

NOISE

NOISE

I turned the volume down
to take the edge off the voice
I should be turning it up to hear
more - more is better
Lately I wait to install my hearing aids
cherishing the silence of morning
A high keening is all I can hear as though
a mourner is miles away in pain
I adore the sound of wind the
happy chorus of spring peepers
and late summer cricket song
But not the emptiness of constant talk
And not noise for the sake of noise
Those places that thrive on cacophony
as though some good would come of it
as though loud was the new American dream

Monday, May 14, 2018

AGING EXPONENTIALLY or THE SOUND OF THE OTHER SHOE DROPPING

This is a rather plainly spoken post.  
Probably more information than you want to know.  
Perhaps you would like to do something else.

Age is something that creeps up on your blind side - at least it seems that way to me. One summer I walked along an island trail that clings to a cliffside that drops off over a hundred feet and thought little of it. Next year on the same trail I seem to be thinking about it more than just enjoying it. The next summer I notice that I don't feel sure at all and the next time I am on that trail I have a telescoping walking stick that now accompanies me anytime I am on irregular terrain. Age.

A few years ago I was walking up an inclined street on the way to work and I am short of breath. No pain, just a little breathlessness. I mention this to my PCP and she orders a stress test and what do you think? I have some sludge in my anterior coronary artery. I have slightly elevated BP. My cholesterol is a bit high. I am prescribed a daily regimen of pills for the first time in my life. Age.

In a regular scheduled physical my PCP asked about my ability to empty my bladder freely and I tell her that I do have occasional issues with that, so I am referred to a urologist for the first time in my life. After an examination he announces that I have an enlarged prostate. Another pill - and the pill works. Age.

A couple of years ago I began passing a little blood in my urine. A call to my urologist and we do a cystoscope procedure - we look into the bladder and find two tumors that must be dealt with. This is day surgery and it is successful. They were malignant tumors. The exact same thing happened recently and two more cancerous tumors were successfully removed. While anesthetized a biopsy was performed on the prostate to follow up on a suspicious bump discovered by a digital exam and cancer was discovered. Age.

Today I began a series of radiation treatments to deal with the prostate cancer. I feel great. I am essentially a-symptomatic. But I have cancer which if not treated somehow could become a different kind of serious problem. So now for five days a week for 28 treatments I have a daily plan to follow. "They" say this works. I'm hopeful. Hope seems to be the coin of the realm as far as old people go.

I was having a meeting with the doctor at the radiation oncology clinic today and I told him that I noticed about half dozen people in hospital gowns (as I was) and mentioned that they were all gray haired. He smiled and said "Welcome to the club". It's almost impossible to live long without the problems of aging. So this is my new normal?  Yes, and I am deeply grateful for the options I have. By the way, it's not going to get any easier.

It's like learning a new language: the language of old age. But it's more than words. It's the way you do everything.

Monday, March 19, 2018

THE ROSEBUD THEORY

There are so many jokes in the standard repertoire about aging that it would be impossible to gather them all.  I'm so old I have stopped buying green bananas.  Anon.  I'm so old my insurance company sends me half a calendar. R Dangerfield.   I'm so old that the sight of flowers frighten me. G Burns.  I'm so old that when I order a 3 minute egg they want the money up front.  G Burns.  I'm so old the candles cost more than the cake.  B Hope.  This one by Steven Wright stops me cold: How young can you die of old age?

Of course, none of the above is original with me.  Not even growing old.  It just feels unique.  It's one of those things, that if you do it (grow old, I'm talking) you feel alone.  I don't care if the room is full of cheering friends, which, of course, is nice, but even such an outpouring cannot remove the footprint of time planted squarely in the middle of your back.

These things don't occupy your mind  too much until you pass 50, or for sure  60 for most of you.  I say all this from a lofty perch in the midst of my 80s.  That's when it gets serious.  Friends and family begin dying off much too quickly for comfort.  Children you once knew or haven't seen in a while are now voting adults if not parents as well.  Then one day you realize you are *thinking* about it all the time - well, a lot of the time.

A while ago I was commiserating with CA about the recent demise of my main computing machine.  It was only 4 years old.  What to do - what to do.

Now, here is how an Octogenarian processes such a situation.  OK.  Should I go ahead and replace the laptop with the present version or wait for the inevitable upgrade at some unknown time in the future?  I'd like the new model, but will it arrive in time?  That wasn't a joke.  I'm dead serious.  Whoops!

There comes a time in life when the idea of delayed gratification is  a kind of dark joke.

How about this from the Song of Solomon:  "Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither".  I kind of like that.  The Rosebud Theory of big ticket purchases in old age.  It has a certain charm, don't you think?

I've always liked the way Robert Herrick brought it together:

     Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
     Old time is still a-flying;
     And this same flower that smiles today
     Tomorrow will be dying.

A version of this was posted in January 2015.  It just felt right today.