Friday, July 11, 2008

The famous poet, Robert Browning, wrote a poem called Rabbi Ben Ezra. The opening lines in that poem are:
“Grow old along with me.
The best is yet to be.”

Robert Browning was out of his mind. Most of my friends are now old and we are not experiencing the best part of life. I have a hard time arranging a time to visit most of them because they are at the doctor’s office or the hospital. One of them goes to the doctor virtually every day and visits a different specialty. He even visits sub-sub specialist. For the cadiologist, he will go to the pacemaker clinic one day, then to the anticoagulant clinic for blood work, then to an interventional cardiologist for a follow up of his coronary stent, then to a general cardiologist for cholesterol management. He may be found one day at the neurologist to follow up on his stroke. The vascular surgeon who cleaned out his carotids sees him one day while he may see his ENT physician the next for a follow up to evaluate his vertigo and hearing loss. He is then off to the ophthalmologist for a check on his deteriorating vision. Next day it will be the dermatologist to remove a few more skin cancers and then to the orthopedist to check his hip and knee joint replacements. The oncologist sees him regularly for a follow up of a head and neck cancer. Of course, there is a visit to the urologist to help him void and determine the latest PSA level. He is out of commission for a couple of days with the prep and procedure for a colonoscopy. Before the colonscopy, he must go to the pain clinic for an epidural injection to ease his aching back. An endocrinologist manages his Type II diabetes and a nephrologists is in on the act of treating his hypertension. The family physician sees him at least once a week to add further adjustments to his many medications and search for another subspecialty for referral.

Recently we were going to Houston and I called a relative to see if we could arrange a brief visit. There was no time for the visit because of a conflicting doctor’s appointment. It’s just hard to see any of my old friends anymore unless I’m willing to go sit with them in the doctor’s office.

I might as well not visit with most of my friends anyway because everyone is getting too old to listen to my stories. Recently, I was telling a story to a friend who is partially blind with macular degeneration, and is also partially deaf. He has always had trouble listening to anything, even in his youth. I told him the story about another friend’s funeral. When I finished the story, he ask me how the subject of my story was doing these days. I said that other than for being dead he is doing great. He doesn’t have a worry in the world.

Another person we occasional contact is a little more available because she has had everything in her body removed or replaced so she has run out of doctors and things for them to do.

I enjoy poetry, but I have stopped reading Robert Browning. He was really off base with that, “come grow old along with me,” stuff.

On the porch, I prefer to read things like the “Crabby Old Man.” The first part of the poem is written below, but for the rest of the story look on the internet for “Crabby Old Man” poem. It’s great and where we are all heading if we live long enough. What the nurse doesn’t see is still a youthful person trapped in a decaying body. That’s what the rest of the poem is about.

Crabby Old Man
What do you see nurses? .......What do you see?
What are you thinking......when you're looking at me?
A crabby old man, ....not very wise,
Uncertain of habit ........with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food.......and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice....."I do wish you'd try!"
Who seems not to notice ....the things that you do.
And forever is losing .............. a sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not...........lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding ....... the long day to fill?
Is that what you're thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes,'re not looking at me.


Blogger jeff ludwick said...

Ain't it the truth, doc? I seldom see any of my old friends anymore because (A)I don't go anywhere after dark (B)None of them go anywhere after dark and (C)HEB and the feed store are the only places I go during the day.

It is just as well, though. In the old days when I ran into an old friend and asked "How are you doing?" I would get to hear of all of his or her latest adventures and travels. Now I do not dare ask for fear of listening to a volume of ailments, treatments, medical procedures and daily prescriptions that they are or have been subjected to. Growing old is anything but fun.....

6:33 AM  

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