I am in the class of people politely referred to as ‘Senior.’ When I was young I thought Senior meant really old, fragile, frail, sickly, helpless. Today I understand Senior as that stage of life before Elderly. Senior is a prelude to an honest understanding of illness and mortality. Senior is that time of life where we begin to examine the ailments we will experience as elderly. I used to be a hypochondriac, but now I think I have something much worse. – it is called aging.
When I awoke this morning I noticed a slight soreness in my throat. Yikes – might this be cancer of the voice box? Perhaps my tobacco indulgence has caught up with me. My imagination runs the natural course. I can see myself with one of those portable microphones attached to my neck. My chin is completely gone. I breath through a tube in my neck. Then I have a cup of coffee and the soreness in my throat leaves until another day. Phew – that was a close one.
After my recovery from the idea of throat cancer I step out on my front porch to pick up the daily news. My back creaks and a pain streaks across my lower extremities. Yikes again – This could be anything from pancreatic cancer to a slipped disk. My mind runs as fast as any youngster – I race through the symptoms of that pancreatic deal. It is too scary to ponder so I decide on the slipped disk. With news paper in hand I warm the water for the water bottle to sooth my aching back.
With the water bottle secured on my back I sit at my desk to check the internet news. My thumb does not obey my commands without protest – Rheumatoid Arthritis for sure. Fortunately, my medicine cabinet is nearby and two Aleve should repress the symptoms of my crippling disease for a few hours.
As I bend over to better read the flat screen monitor I notice a pressure in my upper back, near the center of my chest. Oh my Elizabeth, is this the big one? Are either of my arms numb? Is there corresponding pain or shortness of breath. I can’t remember all of the symptoms of a heart attack – but I decide I had better take an aspirin. The old axiom applies, better safe than sorry. The pressure continues and I ponder calling my children to say my last goodbye. Then I imagine them at the funeral home, some crying, some shaking their head as they say, “He should have taken better care of himself. He was just so selfish.” The pressure continues so I take two antacids, washing the after taste from my mouth with a sip of coffee. In only a few minutes the pressure subsides. It is time for some bacon and eggs.
My coffee pot is running low so I have to decide if I will make a second pot. But I am distracted by having to go urinate three times in the past hour. Yikes – my prostrate is swollen, it is cancer for sure. My father had prostrate cancer and only lived for 17 years after the initial diagnosis. What are the two main factors in predicting prostrate cancer? Family history and being portly. I am in real trouble this time. I decide against the second pot of coffee. After a few hours the need to urinate subsides.
The morning paper contains the daily television schedule. Dateline on NBC is airing a special on Alzheimer’s. I don’t remember what time the program is to air.
Yikes. I had better call my mother and ask her opinion.