In the last several decades the only reason I’ve been to the doctor is to give birth or have an occasional check-up. I’ve been blessed with great health.
But I guess I’m getting old.
I had a general idea what the word meant, but as soon as I got home, I looked it up. I wanted the precise definition.
She said I have Pernicious Anemia.
For the first two weeks I drove to town, waited in the waiting room, sat in the little office waiting for the PA, got my shot, and drove 45 minutes home. On the third Monday of my new reality Caroline and Josh were visiting from New York, and the idea of spending two hours getting a stupid shot was about as irritating as the idea of losing my neurological functions (which is what will happen if I don’t get said shot).
Caroline promised to support me and cheer me on as I attempted to give myself the shot. She stood encouragingly in the corner of the bathroom saying things like, “Oh my gosh, are you REALLY going to do it?” and, “Ewwww, it’s red,” and, “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”
I was comforted.
I really dislike needles, but I did it! It really wasn’t so bad.
Actually, the first time I did it, I don’t think I went deep enough, because I had no idea what I was doing, so I ended up pretty bruised. The second time was a charm: no bruise, no marks, no pain.
The third time, this past Monday, I must have done something wrong. I must have bumped the very tip of the needle without knowing it, because it would not, and I mean WOULD NOT, go in. It hurt like heck. I got shaky and sweaty. After a few failed attempts, I switched the needle with my sweaty shaky hands. The several attempts left me with attractive marks on my thighs. Welcome to aging!
So now I have one of those pill boxes with “M” for Monday, “T” for Tuesday… marks on my thighs, and a renewed sense of gratitude for the fact that I live in a first world country with a plethora of alcohol swabs, clean needles, and easy (albeit expensive) access to medications.
While I was at the doctor’s appointment that led to the investigation of the word pernicious, I was referred to another doctor because upon looking at my back the nurse practitioner exclaimed, “Wow! That’s something you should get checked out.”
When Caroline was home I showed her my back. The veritable fount of solace that she is, she exclaimed, “Eww, freak of nature.” My shoulder blade kind of sticks out and puckers and looks gross. Picture a gargoyle.
So I put bandaids on my thighs and got dressed for my doctor’s appointment. Have I mentioned that I dislike going to the doctor?
I showed the doctor my back, and he said something like, “Hmmmm,” followed by a pause, and then, “I’ve never seen this before.”
I was comforted.
He fiddled with his laptop. I got the distinct impression that he was on Google. Perhaps googling “freak of nature.” He turned his laptop toward me and showed me some pictures of similar looking backs.
Okay. I can do this at home. Is this what the medical community has come to? We are all just webMDs now?
Anyway, he said he had not seen this before, but that he would research it. In the meantime, I’m supposed to go to the hospital and have tests done. Tests involving needles being put in the area to see if I have nerve damage. Have I mentioned that I dislike needles?
With all due respect, this doctor was old enough to have seen stuff. Lots of stuff.
I left the office feeling like a freak of nature.
I drove over to Barnes and Noble and stood staring aimlessly at the shelves of SAT test prep books. There are approximately 70 different SAT prep books. I want the best one. I don’t want to spend too much money. I want my children to succeed. This could be the most important test they take. I want to empower them with the right tools. Why is this one called The Ultimate SAT Guide and this one called The Premium SAT Test Guide? Is ultimate better than premium? I tend to overanalyze. So I called Ken. He talked me down from the ledge of SAT prep guide purchasing. I purchased the College Board’s Official SAT Study Guide. I brought the book into the house and upon close inspection I realized that it looked kind of familiar. The boys told me that we already own that exact book. I think maybe I should have started taking the brain-saving injections years ago.
So the kids make fun of my pill box and my gargoyle-shoulder and my pile of books that I need to return to Barnes and Noble. I’m getting old. It would be really easy to say that getting old sucks.
I have wrinkles on my face. They are there because I’ve squinted up at the sun on the shores of the Caspian Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the beautiful Shawano Lake. I’ve laughed until I’ve cried. I’ve furrowed my brow in deep thought. I’ve been to the desert and I’ve been to the mountain top.
I have stooped shoulders because I’ve had my arms filled with blessings so innumerable the weight of them can’t even be measured. I’ve carried burdens for friends, and I’ve bent over stoves, schoolbooks, scraped knees, flowerbeds, and deathbeds.
The skin on my hands is wearing thin because I’ve shaped, patted, and soothed. I’ve worked and clapped. I’ve been known to shake my fist in anger and frustration. I’ve held the hand of my beloved and I’ve folded my hands in prayer.
My mind is so filled with names, places, pictures, languages, love letters, math formulas, hopes, dreams, landscapes, rules, songs, directions, memories, and the voice of my mother that sometimes there just isn’t room to remember that I already bought the College Board’s Official SAT Study Guide.
It would be really easy to say that growing old sucks.
But it doesn’t.
Growing old is awesome!
If I’m privileged and blessed I will squint into the sun for many many more days, hold many many more blessings, and fill my mind with many many more memories before my days are up. Old Age, bring it!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go get my pill box and look under the “W” to see which pills I have to take today.