Thursday, September 20, 2007

Welcome to....Elderhood

During the past week, I have had a few medical appointments associated with my reaching the exalted age of 65. The first was a "Welcome to Medicare" visit to my local physician's office, where I was poked and prodded and examined minutely in various areas, asked numerous questions about my habits, weighed, measured, scolded a little bit about the weight, and given phone numbers and authorization forms for several additional tests, all to verify exactly the state of my health, so that there will be fewer surprises, I presume, as I get older.

A few days later, I showed up again, hungry and decaffeinated, at 8 a.m. for a blood-letting, and this morning, once again unfed and uncoffee-ed, I had an abdominal ultrasound to see if my aorta looked like it orta. After heart-related surgery in 2007, I've noticed that docs want to make sure that things continue to be in good working order, and an aortic aneurysm is something they look for. I doubt anything will show up that needs to be addressed, but you never know.

The upshot of all this medical attention, coupled with friends who are undergoing treatments for cancer and other ailments, is that I am on high alert health-wise. And I've noticed that I am counting each twinge, each extra heart beat, each moment of minor forgetfulness, as though I'm taking my health temperature constantly, measuring each deviation as it occurs just in case I'm about to drop dead.

I think, morbidly, okay, if I did fall down the stairs and break my neck or have a massive myocardial infarction (isn't that a hilarious word?), how soon would someone miss me? What would the cats do? (I don't want to think about this one too hard, as both Loosy and LIly are quite willing to eat whatever presents itself. I would hope it would not include me. But maybe that's better than their starving to death. You can see just how morbid I can get!)

So all the medical stuff is both anxiety-producing and comforting at the same time. If there's anything amiss, I'll be learning about it. If there's not, that in itself is reason to quit worrying. But not knowing is the hardest thing in the world to me. It may be related to my Super J status in my Myers-Briggs personality type (ENFJ); I want to know---at least usually. But do I want to do what is necessary to fix it? That remains to be seen.

When I learned I had an atrial septal defect and that it had the potential of shortening my life by 10-15 years, I said yes, I do want to get it fixed, even though it meant open heart surgery. And that went well. I learned what a boon it is to have adequate oxygen in my system. But do I want to take drugs for the ills of older age? My blood pressure is slightly higher than it should be. My cholesterol too. So far that's about it. Upping my exercise and diminishing my fat intake are easy and things I've already begun to implement.

But beyond that? I really don't know for sure.


Christina Martin said...

Oh, don't count the moments of forgetfulness. I've heard that paying too much attention to that causes some sort of problem, but I can't remember what it was.

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, Christina, I needed that!