Medical Update

June 24, 2009

I had a “senior moment” and left a faucet running and flooded the kitchen floor, almost destroying our house.

I went to vist my doctor afterwards for my medical checkup at at the age of 65.

My doctor said, “You are in good shape for 65 years of age, except you have the prostate of a 70-year-old and you are “pre-diabetic.”

“Am I coming down with Alzheimer’s Disease?” I asked him. This is not a rhetorical question. My genetics are bad in this regard. My mother died of Alzheimer’s and my father’s oldest sister is institutionalized with it.

He gave me a quick test. He asked me a few questions. He said, “This sounds like a dumb test, but I have had good results with it in screening people for signs of dementia. You seem to be doing fine. My advice is to get lots of physical exercise nd spend a lot of time solving puzzles and exercising your brain.”

Our old treadmill became obsolete and the motor can not be replaced. This makes me furious. We bought a new treadmill. It is something of a science fiction treadmill. Using a chest monitor (which is creepy to put on because it feels ice cold), I can now set the treadmill to adjust itself (by incline and speed) to keep my heart rate in the training zone for my age and to calculate how many calories I am losing as I stride while listening to the good news about Iran and North Korea. I now feel like Dr. Spock on a workout or Captain Kirk working to save the universe from the bridge of his star ship.

I have set a date to have sugery on my cataracts. Yesterday, I went in to have my eyes measured.

First I had to sign a consent form. The eye sugeon’s assistant (who was very friendly and positive) explained ten or so terrible things that might happen to my eyes, such as glaucoma, nerve damage, etc. After explaining each danger, she said, “I haven’t seen that happen to anybody for years, though.”

I said, “I will try not to break your string of success.”

The eye surgeon’s assistant did three tests on my eyes. The first test was very simple. I now forget what it measured. The second test was more complicated. It measured the curvature of my eyes.

The assistant said, “We now have more modern tests than the one I am using, but the doctors don’t trust them, so we are sticking with the same test we have been using for years.”

The third test was very challenging. I had to lay back in a chair so I looked at the the ceiling while the assistant bathed my eyes in fluid under little cups and used sound to measure the depth of my eyes. The assistant said, “This is a very modern test. It has changed six times since I began using it.”

“We used to just guess about the depth of eyes, but now we measure it it very precisely. There are 12 different lenses the doctor can use as replacements. He uses an algebraic computation to choose the the best ones to use for your eyes.”

When Random Granddaughter starts studying algebra, I will tell her to pay careful attention if her careet goals have changed from being an artist to being an eye doctor. When I was in school, I passed algebra, but I seldom use it now.

I have to ask my doctor what I am supposed to do to keep from being pre-diabetic to being fully the real thing.

10 Responses to “Medical Update”

  1. pandemonic Says:

    So this is what I have to look forward to? Hmm…

  2. modestypress Says:

    1. Consider the alternative.

    2. It’s better to be able to look forward to it with cataract free eyes than run into it blind.

    3. Today I went in for another pre-operation medical exam. My doctor was unavalable, so I met with a pinch hitter doctor. He was short and charming, something like a cheerful demented elf. He had very blue eyes, rather like Paul Newman eyes.

    4. I had questioned whether I needed another physical exam after just having one. A nurse said on the phone, “We do different things for a pre-op physical exam. You must come in.” So there I was today.

    5. Pinch hit doctor cheerfully said, “I don’t think you need this exam, but ‘they’ want to be sure so I will give it to you, though cataract surgery is not very dangerous surgery.”

    6. I bought my own blood pressure monitor. My self tests are all over the map. I asked the nurse to check if I was measuring myself properly and to calibrate my monitor with hers.

    7. Also, “white coat syndrome” is a well-known phenomenon, causing blood pressure readings in a doctor’s office to be higher.

    8. I now am so practiced and sophisticated at checking my own blood pressure I get my lowest readings at the doctor’s office, and the highest readings when I check myself.

    9. However, the nurse said that automated blood pressure devices tend to read higher than the manual ones that nurses and doctors use.

    10. My regular doctor told me that I am “pre-diabetic,” scaring me half to death.

    11. I asked pinch hitter doctor about this. He said everybody is pre-diabetic. I guess this is something like all men will eventually develop prostate cancer, but most of us die of something else first, so it seems best not to worry about it. Anyway, if you live long enough, you will become a diabetic person.

    Just wanted (as usual) to cheer everybody up.

  3. woo Says:

    One of ‘my’ artists here in Sydney had a cataracts operation a few weeks ago. He was understandably nervous about it, because his eyes (and hands) are absolutely his living. It went extremely smoothly, I’m glad to report, and he was seeing clearly almost immediately, with very little discomfort.

    I wish you the same, sir!

  4. Cameron Says:

    I pray that your surgery will be successful and your recovery quick and painless.

  5. modestypress Says:

    Woo and Cameron,

    Thank you for your good wishes. The pinch hitter doctor also said to me:

    1) Diabetes is a natural result of aging. We just want to postpone both conditions as long as possible.

    2) He suggested that I start measuring my blood sugar level as well as my blood pressue.

    It occurs to me that pretty soon I will spend my time doing nothing but self-diagnostic tests. The test results will all say, “You are still alive. Please perform the next test.”

  6. tammie Says:

    : ) i appreciate your good-natured approach to life.

    i hope that your surgery is successful and that your vision returns to normal rapidly.

    and i want to comment that i am legally blind. it doesn’t really stop me too much. well, not at all, except i don’t drive. as a result of being visually impaired myself, i have a number of friends in the same condition, and we’re all happy, good humored people. in fact, we have more fun together than most other people i know.

    so if you are worried about a worst case scenario, do not despair. life is too good to waste just because your missing a part of it.

    God bless you, sir.

  7. David Says:

    Best wishes on the cataract surgery. The worst part, so I hear, is the annoying followup care, which involves a complex regimen of eye drops.

    At some point, yes, the fact of still being alive will probably mean that no further tests are necessary.

  8. modestypress Says:


    Thank you for the encouraging words. In my last job, which became particularly troublesome in my last two years of working, I worked for a while with a completely blind person. She was energetic and upbeat. The library system I worked for wanted to go through the motions of serving her, but only so they would not be the subject of a lawsuit, not because they really wanted to serve her.

  9. modestypress Says:


    The nurse who measured my eyes described the eye drop torment to me in some detail. I am not sure I am “looking forward” to it, but there seems to be no “looking back” now.

  10. Good luck with your surgery! I hope it goes smoothly, and that you heal quickly. They measure your eye depth with sound? How fascinating. It’s interesting how they used new tests for somethings, to measure what before they only guessed, and old test for others. At least you know they’re keeping as current as they need to be.

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