Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Zen and the art of body part maintenance

The phone rings. You are on a ladder, or on a toilet, or in the basement, or on the porch. You are expecting a call that you don't want to miss, so you dash to answer it before the caller hangs up or the answering machine cuts in.

Of course, this applies only to those of us who are still using phones that are connected to a wall. Modern people carry their phones with them at all times, and have little microphone thingies sticking out of their ears, so they can be alerted to spring into action when needed, like if the Prime Minister is under threat or there is a sale on batteries at Wal-Mart.

But I digress.

This happened to me the other day. I had recently had my annual medical checkup. I have that every 10 years, even when I'm feeling healthy. I mentioned to the doc that I have a ringing in my ears. He said it is Tinnitis, and that usually not much can be done for it, but he would refer me to an audiologist for a look-see.

He also said he thought I ought to have a colonoscopy, which he said everyone is having these days. So, of course, I said that if everyone is having it, count me in. I mean, I like to keep up with the trends, so why not give it a go. So he said he'd refer me to someone who would give it to me, so to speak.

So now I am waiting for these phone calls from an audiologist and a colonoscopist (try saying that without a lisp). Also, I am feeling a bit of urgency because I'm planning to bug out soon to our Florida hideout.

Phone rings. I dash up a couple of flights, down a hall, and grab the receiver on the last ring. My heart is thumping and my Tinnitis is running at 110 decibels, but I manage to detect that the caller is one of the clinics to which I have been referred. I don't register the name of the clinic, but the pleasant lady starts running through a list of screening questions with me, and finally reaches one about sleep apnea that is a showstopper for her, at which point she says they can't do the job, someone will be calling, and hangs up.

My assumption is that this was the audiologist. I stupidly assume sleep disorders are more closely connected to my ears than my ass.

I then hear from a clinic calling to book my colonoscopy, which I do.

After a couple more weeks of not having heard anything from the audiology front, I call my doctor's office to inquire. I am told that there is no record of my having been referred to an audiologist. I say, "Well how come I was called by one?" She says that can't be true, and that it must have been a colonoscopy clinic.

I hate when I am treated like a doddering old fool, so I get a little dudgeonly and say something about still being able to tell my ass from my ear, and she says she will leave a note for the doc.

I recount the entire sorry tale to my wife, and we both agree that unfair assumptions are too often made about the mental competence of folks in their seventh decade and up.

Now I start thinking about this. Like Hercule Poirot, I apply my little grey cells, and gradually decipher the probable chain of events which, it now appears, began with a call from a colonoscopy clinic, not an audiology clinic, and ended with me having to acknowledge my dodderingness after all.

Regrettably, I have further burnished the belief among the under-40 crowd that we seniors illuminate the world with the incandescence of a 25-watt bulb.

Update: Colonoscopy day arrives.

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