How can time simultaneously scream by while crawling endlessly? Stephen Hawking could perhaps explain it to me, but he’s not here right now, and even though I know where to find his book on my newly-organized bookshelves, reading it sounds like work.
Way back an entire decade ago when I turned 50, almost to the day, my fingers stopped functioning when it came to separating pieces of paper. Sheets, books, magazines, newspapers, letters: to this day, I struggle to get pages apart, and it’s a source of endless frustration.
Well, then hit 60 and life becomes all about the rest of your body falling apart in little chunks. In the month and a half since I arrived at 60, I have gotten vaccinated for covid and flu, been to the emergency room once, the hospital lab once, the eye doctor once, the dentist twice, the chiropractor several times and physical therapy about 5 million times. Yet, while doing this, I have been unable to make it out of an endless two weeks that involves blistering the skin off my face much like the Nazis’ faces all melted at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
I am going to confess that I am self-medicating without the supervision of a dermatologist, who is clear far away in Salida. Under the supervision of Not Dr. Terri, my sister who – at a dinner to celebrate my 60th trip around the planet, as a matter of fact – noticed the same blemish I’ve been noticing under my left eye and suggested I try the cream her dermatologist gave her in lieu of freezing pre-cancerous lesions off her face.
Her dermatologist had some sound reason for the cream over the in-office nitrogen freeze, but my memory, like all my other parts, is not what it once was, and all I can recall now is that 12 of my longest days ago, I started applying this cream to my face.
During this same endless 12 days where in good Twilight Zone fashion we are never going to reach the 14th and final day that I have to put this crap on my face, I have been to the dentist for a cleaning but no x-rays, gone back to the dentist for an x-ray to learn that I probably have tooth pain rather than sinus pressure and a root canal is likely in order; determined that my Goldilocks thyroid is still in flux (first it is too low, and now once again it is too high); seen three different physical therapists in the same office despite being on a once-a-week schedule there; and – good news, kind of – gotten a reasonably clean bill of health from the eye doctor.
Although the eye doctor did have one darkening piece of news, as he pointed to the $45 picture of my eye showing the encroaching shadow of cataracts (looking, now that I think about it, much like the Shadows of the TV show Babylon 5).
Initially he was quite enthused about the part where most people don’t need to do something about cataracts until after the age of 65 when the miracle of socialized medicine that we profess to hate so much kicks in and the federal government will help pay for the procedure(s). But then he decided I might be three years away from needing cataract surgery and in my best counting that leaves me two years shy of government assistance – unless, of course, Republicans take over and decide to make the demolition of Medicare one of their first proud accomplishments.
So there’s that, but as long as I keep applying toxic cream to my face we’ll never get there, since I can’t even make it out of two weeks. Not that this will end the process of melting my face away: the instructions assure me that I will need to give it one to two months post-cream to realize finished results. I could have driven to Salida and back 4,000 times in that sort of span.
Of course, that presumes I don’t need to devote some of my Medical Tour of Colorado time to tooth care, and apparently we should never presume that.
Back in August, even before I was 60, I experienced some seriously excruciating pain in and above my teeth. I had the dentist check this out a couple three years back, and when he couldn’t find anything dental we decided it was my sinuses, living directly above the teeth, putting pressure on them. The pain started up again this August while my dentist was at a family reunion.
I debated calling a medical doctor, but then I consulted my medicine cabinet and found a four-day supply of amoxicillin. Since I am all about self-medicating these days, I took it. The pain went away, until two days after I’d been to Crested Butte for my semi-annual cleaning. This was just as the weather was changing, so I was back to the sinus-versus-teeth conundrum, but this time it was really hurting to chew, and frankly a dental x-ray, even in Crested Butte, sounded less involved than the CT scan my medical doctor would probably call for.
The x-ray showed a shadow, not as dramatic as my cataract shadows, and since the endodontist in Montrose doesn’t have an opening until mid-November, I was given more amoxicillin, which required two trips to the pharmacy, since first they told me to come back in 30 minutes only to text me as I was four blocks away on my way to work, where I put in small appearances between medical appointments.
So far the thyroid issue, other than the blood test at the hospital lab, has only required messing around with my pill dosage. We did this last year: first it was too low, so we upped my dose, then it was way low, so we cut my dose; ultimately after several expensive tests I ended up at the same dose I’ve taken for several years. Now we appear to be repeating the same pattern, which means at least one more trip to the lab to give the vampires more blood.
By the time I was given an appointment with a third physical therapist at the same clinic I was ready to call that off, since it feels like I spend my life there even when it’s a weekly appointment often with the therapist who seems to least know what to do with me. She struggles to extend my appointments past 20 minutes, and frequently offers a single repetition of some exercise I can’t duplicate at home without their equipment.
But the third therapist previously advised offices on work ergonomics, and she spent an hour with me discussing posture and my work station (where I come in at an angle to my desk) and it felt quite productive, even if I’m not very good at remembering everything I’m supposed to do here in the Real World. But then I had another 20-ish minute appointment . . . I might be getting ready to call it quits even if my back is still more sore than it used to be. I did repeat my intake survey just last week at therapy, and it showed a 60 percent improvement.
It’s been a whirlwind month and a half, except for the magic cream that has slowed time down to a Jurassic crawl. If someone other than Mr. Hawking has an explanation, I’m all ears – which ought to be checked too . . .