This is a sobering thought. All of my seventeen and eighteen year old friends, with whom I graduated high school, are receiving their Medicare cards in the mail this year. How the hell did that happen? In my head, we are still kids.
But tell that to my doctor. That fourteen year old. I am about to take my brand new Medicare insurance card to his office to get my annual check-up, the 100,000 mile lube job. I know how he operates. He starts at the top of my head and asks questions about each part of my body all the way down until he ends on my heels. So, this year, I am preparing ahead of time and thought I would share the State of the Union (my body) with you. Share how it stands right now, right here at the threshold of this significant birthday, number 65, The BIG 65. I know you don’t care, but what-the-hell? Read, anyway. Maybe it’ll give you some ideas for your next check-up. Or make you feel better by comparison…
So, the top of the head. Hm? Do you mean that part right behind the crown that always looks bald after I have slept on it? The part that nobody ever mentions and that I spot sometimes if I take the time to look in my hand mirror at the back of my head? I now have a pact with my girlfriends to shout “Bermuda Triangle” at each other if we notice that flattened piece of scalp peeking through our carefully coiffed hair. Then we all grab at that part and try to pat our hair into submission.
Let’s not even talk about the inside of that noggin, my mental state. We’ll leave that to the professionals, shall we?
Eyes? Whatchu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis? My eyes are fine. Just as soon as I find my cheaters. I have about seventeen pairs around here somewhere. If I could just find one, then I could put them on and probably find the rest of them…
Nose is next. Other than the peeling precancerous spot spread across the bridge of my nose, which no amount of makeup seems to cover, there aren’t any problems. And I am able to smell perfectly. Unfortunately. Especially after garlicky beans for dinner, in the privacy of our bedroom, before we sleep, and my husband says, ten times in a row, “Pull my finger.”
Lips. What lips? They have all but disappeared behind the deep creases that surround them. But as long as I can’t find my glasses, I may as well put bright lipstick on where I think they should be and hope I don’t look like Bette Davis in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane,” when I leave the house.
Throat? Oh, my God. Oh, you mean inside the throat? It’s fine. Still got my tonsils. It’s the neck, aka, gullet that sends me into shock when I view its sag from the side. When will I learn to throw that hand mirror away? And lift my chin every time somebody snaps a picture?
While we at it, still in the neighborhood of the head, so to speak, can we talk about the hair problem again? I think my thinning eyebrows have found their way down to my upper lip. All the time I used to spend plucking and shaping my eyebrows is now spent searching and destroying my unwanted mustache. I keep tweezers everywhere. My favorite pair lay waiting for me in the car, ready to pounce on my chin-hairs while I wait at stop lights all over town. I often have to wrench my eyes off the rearview mirror and get through the light, responding to the line of honking cars behind me. Just one more pluck, I think, while this sunlight is shining just right.
Okay, okay, down to the body. Shoulders? Unfrozen, thank goodness and finally. Elbows? Great. Wrists? Thankfully, so thin still. Whenever I feel fat, I just gaze at my lovely wrists. Hands? Whose hands are these anyway? My grandmother’s? Sometimes, while watching T.V. and slathering on hand cream (the ultrarich, therapy, intensive recovery, buttery kind), I look at those thick ropes of veins and crepey skin then feel like sucking my thumb. TMI? Sorry.
Boobs? Belly? Bottom? Yaya? Can we just skip over this part? Just write the orders, Doctor, for the mammo, the PAP, and the dread of the dreadiest, the colonoscopy. What sadist thought up the prep for THAT test, anyway? If we can put a robot camera on Mars, why the hell can’t we find another way to detect colon polyps?
Oh, goodie, we are down to my legs. Here is how the conversation will unfold…
“What do you mean, doctor, that you would like to see them? No. I haven’t worn a short dress since 1972 so I sure as hell am not putting on that backless gown you are holding up. Yes. That’s right. I always wear long pants. No, I am not taking them off. Oh, alright. What? No, those are not tattoos. They are spider veins. And cellulite. And cute little dimples, but not where they belong. Okay, I am pulling those pants back on, doc.”
Now to the feet. Other than the plantar fasciitis, the bunions, the plantar warts, the fallen arches, the fungal toenails, the cracked skin around the balls and heels, the chipped pedicure, the hairy big toe, and that odd little webbing between my toes that I have had since birth, my feet are fine. As long as I don’t stand on them too long. And as long as I wear shoes that I used to never be caught dead in. And as long as my Dr. Scholl’s are in place.
Then, we will move to inside my body. Blood pressure. Check. Blood tests. Check. Stool sample. Check. Urine sample. Check. Prescriptions for dryness and wetness and the “too highs” (B.P. and Cholesterol) and the “too lows” (Vitamin D and my libido). Finally, he will ask for the vital stats. This is what will happen…
I will scream, “Oh, no. Please don’t weigh me. Please. Let me take off my orthopedic shoes (and all my clothes and let me pee first). I think your scale is wrong. I weighed on mine and I weighed, I don’t know, let me think, maybe 20 pounds less. When? Within the last decade I am sure.”
I will protest, “I am 5’9 1/2”. What do you mean, 5’7 1/2”? I haven’t shrunk that much, have I? Does that mean I am going to have to weigh what it says for THAT height now? Crap, as it is, I should be 6’5” in order to be in the normal range for my weight. This is definitely going in the wrong direction.”
“This is just between us, right Doc? HIPAA regulations and all that. Don’t even show the office staff that weight thing, okay? Okay. See you next year.”
So, Class of ’65, I’ll let you know if there are any significant deviations from this scenario when I see him next week. In the meantime, I challenge you to remember me as I was then, or rather how I want to be remembered as how I was then:
… tall and tan and young and lovely…
Love and Kisses,