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.