I can't say that I feel old as such. Or not all that old. I still work out on a regular basis. I'm a little heavier than I have been. But I'm working on it. I killed the treadmill during my last visit to the cardiologist. I haven't been sick since,well, I don't recall. Sometime last Spring. I don't count my mild recurrent sinus infections as qualifying for "being sick."
So far so good.
But last October or so I noticed something. Catholic High is not the most well-lit place. But I noticed when one of the boys was waving at me from around 30 yards away I couldn't make out his face. And this is one of the boys I know well.
That was new. I started paying attention. In choir rehearsal, I noticed I couldn't make out the director's face from the stage in the auditorium. I noticed that it took me longer to walk down stairs or recognize folks behind a windshield.
I didn't think much about it. My yearly visit to the ophthalmologist was coming up. I figured I needed a new prescription. Wrong as usual. In November my 17 year old eye doctor told me I had cataracts. She told me this after hearing me tell her that I couldn't make out faces in the hall anymore.
She looked in my left eye. "Yep."
She looked in my right eye. "And yep. Bilateral cataracts."
"Are you sure?" I asked her in disbelief.
"You're a little young. But you have cataracts."
I'm not yet a candidate for surgery. She told me to get prescription sunglasses for golf and driving.
"See ya in a year," she said while dispensing a hug as we walked down the hall. "Really. This is going to be OK."
And for the first time in my life I feel old. Now if this is the worst I get told, and it will not be, I will be lucky. Especially given the amusing fact that we Bowens tend to have bad tickers.
But I have never considered-nor have I ever had reason to do so-how limiting even a slight visual impairment can be. While I can see to drive and read and perform the average tasks of daily life, my depth perception, already rendered tricky by bifocals, is now for shit. It's a pain to switch from regular glasses to sunglasses. And vice-versa.
Walking on uneven ground and/or going down stairs is kinda scary. Especially at low light. Indeed, the other night I walked off a neighbor's porch. Stone cold sober at 7:30 PM. In retrospect, I probably would have been more nimble if I had a snootful at the time.
So I downloaded a flashlight app for my phone. I now keep a penlight in the car. All for walking down stairs at night.
Which is depressing quite frankly. Why didn't she just issue me a white cane with her farewell hug?
But then I think how much more depressing it would be to have this condition with no medical insurance to pay for the surgery that will be necessary in about a year. Or sooner if I keep taking dives.
And yet, the new Republican Congress is hell bent on messing with the 20 million folks out there who get their insurance through the Affordable Care Act. They are opposed to expanding Medicaid. They are talking about changes to Medicare which is one of the most popular government programs ever devised.
Now, rabid partisans though they may be, Trump and the Congress he inherits are not complete fools. They aren't about to create an instant bloc of pissed off voters. They know that immediate repeal would be disaster for the economy. And so this is why some have predicted that the changes to the ACA will be mostly cosmetic in nature.
But if I got my insurance through Obamacare, I would be nervous. Because insurance companies are all about managing risk. And the longer the Congress screws around with this issue the less quantifiable will be the risk. And insurance companies, except for the more unstable ones, will leave the insurance exchanges in each state. And Obamacare will collapse under its own weight. Which is maybe what the Republicans want to happen.
So yeah. I'm depressed by the cataracts. But I would be a lot more depressed if I didn't have insurance. I would be even more depressed, and angry, if my government was going to take it away from me.
Because it isn't fair.
It just ain't fair.