Sunday, October 25, 2015

My Sunday Sexagenarian Feeling

The doctor took the stethoscope out of his ears and reached in his pocket for his prescription pad.  I have been sick off and on for a month due to allergies and sinus stuff.  The bronchitis returned last weekend so I went in to get a steroid shot.

"The deal with patients like you," he said as he wrote me a scrip for antibiotics and cough medicine. "Is that y'all never met a day that you didn't find something to like.  And that's a great thing.  The problem with guys like you is that you never rest when you are sick. You're always pushing."

I never thought about it like that before.  In retrospect the good doctor is on to something.  While I will never be confused with Fred Rogers or any other Mary Sunshine type you may think of, I do tend to find something to like about most every day the Lord sends.  Especially now since I don't practice law all the time anymore.

Perhaps that is what has sustained me for much of my 60 years, the first day of which I enjoyed yesterday.  

Yesterday, I became the first male on my father's side in 2 generations to hit the big six-oh.  While I can't say that I obsessed about the bad hand I've been dealt genetically or went screaming in the night about it, it is fair to say that I have been aware of, not so much my mortality, but just how any of a number of things that happened along the way could have jumped ugly.

Around 1986, I was mugged at gunpoint.  My Tulane classmate Jeff Adams had the same experience right after graduation.  He got his head blown off.  I didn't.  About 5 years later a drunk in a Tahoe ran a red light turning my Chevy Nova into a concertina.  I walked out with a small laceration in my ear.  

Around 1993, I came home from work to find 3 guys robbing my house.  I must have scared them as much as they scared me. They went out the back while I went back out the front.  Surely one of those assholes had a gun.  I certainly didn't.  All they got was stuff.  You can replace stuff.  It worked out.  

About 2008 I was diagnosed, much to everyone's considerable surprise despite my sorry family history, with coronary artery disease.  It is in the left anterior descending artery which is popularly, for lack of a better word, referred to amusingly as "The Widowmaker" for it's documented ability for killing people dead.  Heart disease claimed my father and his father.  I'm asymptomatic.  I crush every stress test they throw at me.  

My cardiologist says I have a better chance of getting shot than having a fatal heart attack.  Whatever that means.  My PCP goes so far as rating my chances for such an event as "zero" despite the sludge in my system.  I am fortunate to be living in the era of statin drugs and stents.  My dad was not so fortunate.  Also, unlike my father and my grandfather I don't smoke.  Smoking will kill you graveyard dead about 5 different ways.  

One of the reasons I don't smoke is because I  have suffered from upper respiratory problems all my life.  I had pleurisy as late as last May. Some folks get colds. I acquire stuff out of a book by Dickens.  I catch these things and I get over them. Around 2010, Hugh Tedder, another Tulane classmate, caught the flu.  He died. He left two daughters.  Where's the fairness in that?

I don't much ascribe the hand of God in sparing me all these years.  That would suggest that God routinely intercedes in human history which I can't say that I see from the evidence before me.  Or that if he does, he is perverse about it.
So I can't say that I can provide an explanation for how I arrived at this charmed state of affairs. 

But as the doc says, I do tend to find something good in every day that I am lent breath.  I enjoy spending time with the boys at Catholic High.  Even when they piss me off. I practice law just about as much as I can stand.  I think my current caseload stands at 3.  I still pretty much suck at golf but it no longer troubles me enough to try to improve.  I am playing guitar and singing with the help of an exceedingly patient and frequently amused young professional musician.  

I have stumbled into a relationship with a beautiful, kind, and tolerant woman.  She is lovely in every way.  Far better than I deserve in any event.  

Last night we attended a party where I was surrounded by family and friends.  Good food and drink.  Much story swapping and laughter along with a few tears. How did I get to this pass?  Call it pure dumb luck.  Call it what you will.  

But I realize that I am the most fortunate man on Earth.  And I don't take it for granted one little bit.  

The doc handed me the scrip. 

"Have fun at your party.  Take a little of the cough medicine about an hour before you go.  Eat and drink what you like as long as you got a driver," he said. "Just see if you can find something good the next couple of days that involves reading a book or watching sports.  Because I want you to rest. No working out. No golf. Chill out.  You're in remarkable shape for 60. But you are 60. And you need to get well."

I started to walk out of the room.  The doc called my name.  I turned around. 

He gave me a fist bump.

"Congratulations, man," he said. "You did it." 

So it would appear.  

And I don't have to think about this stuff anymore.

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