Sunday, February 17, 2008

Turning Sixty

I'm writing a new country song, so if you steal it, you have to credit me. It's called, "I'm taking the mirrors out of my house, 'Cause I can't stand to see a grown man cry." For the past several years, I've become accustomed to looking in the mirror and seeing my father's face, but lately I look and see someone else's Dad; one of those old guys in the health club at the Jewish Community Center who wanders around in a towel searching for his locker. It began in December when my drivers' license expired on my 60th birthday and I was required to have a new photo taken. Over the years, my photo IDs have looked like a rogues' gallery of pirates and smugglers, but this time I looked like a demented department store Santa in a fright wig, called into the manager's office for psycholological evaluation. I asked Melody why my beard looked so white and bushy in the photo when I had just trimmed it, and she assured me it was because my big smile accentuated the beginnings of what the pro wrasslers used to call a "turkey neck." In forty years, I've morphed from young Ben Franklin into sinister Sinter Klaus.

When Melody and I run into an old friend we haven't seen in a while, our response is usually the same; "Can you believe how old he looks?" quickly followed by, "Do we look that old?" After we reassure ourselves that our zaniness keeps us cute, we forget it, until I notice that the bags under my eyes have turned into two-suiters and gravity has taken such a toll on my face, I've decided to walk on my hands for the next twenty years. When I glance in a mirror, for an instant I wonder how the basset hound got into our house. Of course, the problems with internal plumbing started years ago. My friends and I used to get together and talk about politics, women, and sports. Now we discuss our prostates. It seems a lifetime ago since I was a teenager, but wasn't I just 35 and moving to Nashville? I used to thrive on steak and eggs at three in the morning, and now, in the past five years alone, I've helped build a new wing on my Gastroenterologist's clinic, and the sonuvabitch won't even name it after me.

Before turning sixty, I had every bodily orifice probed, prodded, or peered into, and been told I had a floppy colon, IBS, a spastic colon, internal hemmorhoids, enflamed intestines, and an ulcer. These are usually considered the easily rectified problems of aging, unless you don't have health insurance, and then you have to pick and choose which among your orifices you wish to treat. I used to have group insurance with the National Council of Jewish Women, but the premiums grew so dear, the underwriter dropped the entire organization, sending a bunch of old ladies, and me, into a frenzy. I have been paying retail for my medical expenses ever since 1991, because I made the terrible mistake of having anti-depressants prescribed by a psychiatrist.

I feel like an anti-depressant pioneer, and I also believe they saved my life. I took one of the first tricyclic medications in 1987, under a doctor's care, who carefully monitored my blood for the proper levels. When I returned to Memphis, I was on my own. I found a doctor to prescribe the medication, but was required to make periodic office visits to show I could still speak in sentences, even though they knew of my insurance woes. Then I got a notice in the mail that said a new office policy required them to charge a fee for refilling prescriptions. It reminded me of what Tony Soprano's mother said in Season One; "Psychiatry is a racket for the Jews." My internist suggested that if I transferred all my records to his office, he could prescribe and I would be able to procure insurance. Who says therapy doesn't work? I felt very empowered when I fired my psychiatrist, but when I applied for insurance, it was the same answer; pre-existing conditions, and no one, and I mean no one, would cover me. My new plan was to wash my hands alot and stay off of high ledges until I was 65. But something happened.

Every young boy claimed the ability to write his name in the snow, but I used to do it in bold, cursive letters and my name is Randolph. Now, as they derisively say in the South, I was "squattin' to pee," and my wife stopped worrying about the toilet seat being up. A bad PSA level caused me to see a specialist who found the cause to be a prostate the size of a ripe kiwi. It was treatable with medication, but the side-effects from the sinus remedy I was using contributed to the bladder restriction. I was given Flomax for that, but the doctor told me I had a choice between peeing and breathing; so I breathed on MWF, peed on TTS, and Sunday I reloaded. He substituted prescription Flonase for my over-the-counter sinus medicine, until one day I confused the Flomax with the Flonase, took out a handkerchief, and inadvertently blew my penis. The problem got worse until I visited a reknowned urologist who said my prostate had indeed shrunk, but the medication had also restricted my urethra and it needed to be widened.

When the color ran from my face, the doctor told me it was an out-patient procedure; all they had to do was arrange an operating room and an anestheologist to put me out, and not only would I not feel a thing, I could go home the same day. When I said I had no health insurance, he said, "Oh." The doctor said he could do a discounted procedure in the office with local anesthetic and get the same result, and nothing I treasured would be punctured, merely inserted. I disrobed and a paper sheet was placed in my lap when, to my alarm, the doctor's young and homely female assistant came in with a needle. She tore a hole in the paper sheet, as if that would be less humiliating, and exposed me like a spring toadstool, but her aim was bad. With terror, I watched the whole tableau turn into the shower scene from "Psycho," and was prepared to bolt when the drug finally took effect, but because I lacked coverage, the doctor didn't use a surgical tool, but widened my urethra with a rusty old shovel. Then he had the temerity to suggest that I have more sex as recovery therapy, which pleased my wife, but was the equivalent of telling a man just out of electro-shock therapy that he's appearing on Jeopardy! next week. Intimacy sounded good, but the tension had weakened my lower spine and I wasn't sure if my back would peter out, or vice versa. (Thanks for the joke, Dad).

I walked around in a daze muttering, "The horror," for a month. I would have sued the doctor for physical and emotional distress, but he was doing me a favor. Things have returned to relative normalcy now, but every once in awhile, I'll pee a little gravel. On the positive side, since I'm a late bloomer in nearly everything in life: college, marriage, career; post-sixty looks bright. I've nearly reached emotional maturity and feel at the peak of my mental abilities. So I guess I'd better start writing faster. All in all, turning sixty beats the alternative, but unless a Democrat is elected and does some fast work on health care, Melody and I will be supplementing our income with a new line of bumper stickers for sexagenarians and new grandparents, saying; "I'm spending my children's college tuition," "Sixty is the new sixty," and, "Ask ME about my colonoscopy."

19 comments:

Beaver said...

I can honestly say that after reading your article I feel more like I do now, than before I read it.
Was I through.......?

Anonymous said...

LOL! Randy, I identify sir....I'm turning 61 next month and have had prostate problems so long I have named it Butch. Growing old is not for sissies.

Joel

Anonymous said...

I am 71, dating a 35 yr old woman. Sounds good but has numerous drawbacks. But I am willing to fight thru it all. The pleasure is worth the pain.

I too prefere to sit to urinate, I get so tired standing there waiting for a dribble or two.

I dont look my age, I could pass for a 69 yr old.

Lifes a bitch and then you die, any day I wake up on this side of the grass is a good day.

Relax and enjoy the ride.

D from tennessee

Anonymous said...

Randy, Remember when you,Bob & me won the talent contest and our prize (for first place) was $5.00?
We blew that money at the Krystal across from East High. That seems like a couple of week ago. Don't look at getting older----look at is as gaining more experience.

P.S. Please don't hit me in the stomach again. I'm not in shape now.
I love you brother!!!!!!!!!!

Mac Daddy

Anonymous said...

glad I am not a guy!

Anonymous said...

Yeah! we're 60 all right! At our class reunion a friend told me that a former cheerleader was stairing at my package. Package? My disposable underwear was all bunched up! I've had knee replacement but I need a complete overhaul. I sleep with a C-pap mask because of sleep apnea. My wife thinks she's having an affair with the Elephant Man! My wife (7 yrs younger) says when her car needs new parts she genaraly turns it in for a new one. She works for a drug co.that came out with a drug that had interesting side effects-when you sneezed you could possibly have an orgasm. I suggested that the patient carry 2 hankerchiefs. Imagine! You sneeze! "God bless you!" "Oh! He did! He did!" Peace be with you! Padre

Anonymous said...

Randy you are ONE talented writer!
How you can make 'this' subject funny is beyond me.
I just had to actually pull a calculator out to see how old I really am. I'll be 59 this July! SHOOOOT, I thought I was 58!
All I can say is this part of life, that's arrived, is God's way of saying "Look how much better it'll be when you get HERE!" Something tells me it'll get worse before it gets better though. . . . . . . Oh Well.
Que Sera Sera ... or is it Kay Sarah Sarah? Three chicks in the phone book . . . . . snore... sppptt. .. . .ZZZZZzzzzzzz ..

Pat "the Independent"

Thrupence said...

Very funny...sad...but very funny. Hey, things could be a lot worse; you could be on Flomax AND Viagra, in which case you wouldn't have a clue if you were coming or going...(rimshot). Also, resembling a bassett hound is far superior to being compared to a Sharpei, which I can attest to from personal experience. But, no matter how you cut it, suffering through almost any phyical problem is better than pushing up daiseys, (as my old man used to remind me). Stay well, at least until your Medicare kicks in.
Love, Goldie

Anonymous said...

RJ

Don't be blue, you could at least live thru this season with the Tigers and end up with a real set of "Blue Balls".

Anonymous said...

It's the damn split stream at 3 a.m. I can't understand. One stream hitting the toilet dead center and the other soaking my foot or the shower door. My 40th reunion is in Sept. and I'm trying to avoid being the guy that gets his belly patted and hears the old "ain't missing any meals, huh bud?", because if I suck in for 4 hours, I WILL get a hernia.

Ron

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the rest of you but for myself,I'll take (almost) sixty any day. There is no good alternative so we better enjoy and go on and wear out all the parts before we go. I'm not saving anything for anybody.I plan on going on hard and sliding into death looking like I had the invitation years ago. Viva Life and everything that goes with it. Although the hips could be a tad smaller.Hell, I hope I make it to 60. Chop

Anonymous said...

Misery does love company. Getting old is a drag. Each of us is a pioneer treading on heretofore unknown ground and it is a little bit freaky. I am 61 and have known you since you were in the seventh grade. In fact, I have a mental picture of you from back then on the bus that we used to ride home from East High. I started freaking out when I turned 59. Mentally, I was still 20-something, but turning 60 meant no more fooling myself. 60 is deadly serious, because it is the portal to the era of old age...a.k.a. the sudden death zone. Now getting older is like accelerating into a brick wall. The horizon that used to be endless is now drawing uncomfortably close. Oh well, we were blessed to have lived through the best of times. One thing that helps me to put things into perspective is to think of all the sick kids at St. Jude. When I do that I realize that I have nothing to complain about. We need to keep a stiff upper lip and walk gracefully toward that place from which only one person has returned. There is no getting out of the grim reality lies ahead. As Dan Rather used to say at the close of his broadcast...'Courage'.

Cousin Cliff said...

Having just turned 50, I feel like a child here, but Chop's post reminded me of the following story:

They were 85 years old, and had been married for sixty years.
Though they were far from rich, they managed to get by because they watched their pennies. Though not young, they were both in very good health, largely due to the wife's insistence on healthy foods and exercise for the last 2 decades.

One day, their good health didn't help when they went on a rare vacation and their plane unfortunately crashed, sending them off to Heaven.

They reached the pearly gates, and St. Peter escorted them inside. He took them to a beautiful mansion, furnished in gold and fine silks, with a fully stocked kitchen and a waterfall in the master bath. A maid could be seen hanging their favorite clothes in the closet. They gasped in astonishment when he said, "Welcome to Heaven. This will be your home now. "

The old man asked Peter how much all this was going to cost. "Why,
nothing," Peter replied; "remember, this is your reward in Heaven."

The old man looked out the window and right there he saw a championship golf course, finer and more beautiful than any ever built on Earth. "What are
the greens fees?" grumbled the old man.

"This is heaven," St. Peter replied. "You can play for free, every day, any time of day that you want."

Next they went to the clubhouse and saw the lavish buffet lunch, with every imaginable cuisine laid out before them, from seafood to steaks to exotic desserts, free flowing beverages. "Don't even ask," said St. Peter to the
man. "This is Heaven, it is all free for you to enjoy."

The old man looked around and glanced nervously at his wife. "Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol foods, and the decaffeinated tea?" he asked.

"That's the best part," St. Peter replied. "You can eat and drink as much as you like of whatever you like, and you will never get fat or sick. This is Heaven!"

The old man inquired, "No gym to work out at?" "Not unless you want to," was the answer.

"No testing my blood sugar or blood pressure or..." "Never again. All you do here is enjoy yourself."

The old man glared at his wife and said, "You and your damn bran muffins. We could have been here 20years ago."

gregg said...

Yo, Bunkus---
I just got home from work and I see that Thrupence threw in a few thrupence. Good for him. When Zachary saw him in California about 10 years ago, he emailed me to let me know that he had finally met Rick. His tag line was, "when he dies I think they'll make a wallet out of his face." It's true.

And, I've been sitting for about 15 years, not so much because I spray, although I certainly can on a random basis, but because I get tired standing up for so goddam long.

Much love, old salt.
Maybe I can get down with some good drug for you in the summer or fall..... (Prevacid, Flomax, Flonase)
Gregg

Anonymous said...

Great things you experienced in order to be 60:
Howdy Doody, Davey Crockett, Rock 'N Roll (Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, and Elvis), Teen culture, Teen dances, Muhammed Ali, The Beatles, International pop music, the "Swinging Sixties," leading to war and the counterculture, drug experimentation and birth control, Nixon and Watergate, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union, the first Gulf War, and the current vanity war for oil led by our most incompetemt president.
I wonder what the next 60 will look like?

Anonymous said...

Randy, there's always my cure for a problem prostate free life. No flow problems, no annual digital rectal exam, no prostate. They just took mine out at the age of 49 (10 years ago) when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

A fellow freelance videographer gets his health insurance from the local farmer's coop. No farming required, not even planting tomatoes in the yard.
bb

Anonymous said...

Last birthday I got a card with a list of those "You
know you're getting older when" phrases that tick off things that are unfortunately a little bit too true;

"You know you're getting older when:
-- Everything hurts and what doesn't hurt doesn't work...
-- Your knees buckle and your belt won't...
-- You feel like the morning after and you didn't go anywhere the night before...
-- Your back goes out more than you do..."


Then I realized that there is at least one good thing about getting older - that (if you're lucky) you have friends you've known literally for decades, that you couldn't have gotten
any other way than by the compounding years, by getting older, and maybe that's enough to make all the other aspects, the everything hurting, the knees buckling, the getting up at night to pee, tolerable, worth all those little (and not so little) aches.

So yeah, RJ, what with Bob-the-Slob and others like him you still can count as friends, maybe it ain't really all that bad, maybe you're really quite fortunate.

Anonymous said...

Guy's father is getting infirm and son deliberates over what to do; dad lives 200 miles away and so with misgivings he places dad in a home there. He tells pop that he'll be back in a week to check on him and then promises to return every month after that.

Week later kid is back, walks into room and his father says, "Son, this is the absolute best thing you've ever done for your old man! First morning I'm here I wake up and there's this young nurse, blond, big tits, fixing the sheets and dammed if I don't get a hardon like I haven't had since Eisenhower was President. And that nurse looks down and gives me the best blow job I've ever had in my life! You have got to be the best son a father could have."

Kid drives back home thinking things are alright and returns a month later. "Son, you gotta get me outa this place right now!" his father says, "I can't stay here one more day."

"What happened dad, I thought you liked it here?"

"Yesterday I'm walking out in the hallway and slip and land on my butt and this big black orderly drags me into a broom closet and fucks me in the ass for over half an hour...you gotta me outa here!"

"But what about the nurse, dad? Remember? Blond, big tits, great blow job? Shouldn't that make it OK?"

"Son, I get a hardon once, maybe twice a year -- I fall down three times a day."

Anonymous said...

Hey, Randy, your cousin Arthur here.

You know, I had dinner with your mother a couple of weeks ago. She doesn't look 60, so how can you?

I had a friend who said: when he was 30 and went to the doctor, the doctor said "you have the body of a 20 year old." When he was 40, the doctor said "you have the body of a 25 year old." When he was 50, the doctor said "you have the body of a 30 year old". But when he turned 60, the doctor said "you have the body of an 80 year old". There you have it.

And then there was my college roommate's father. When he turned 65, I asked him how it felt (how could I have done that??). He said "it feels great". I said "it does?" "Yes," he said, "I was always afraid I would die young, and now I know that can't happen."

I wondered what would happen when I turned 65. Now I know. I get to go on public transportation for half price and sit in the seats that say "reserved for senior citizens". Other than that, nothing changes.