Middle Age Mania-- May, 2002


Greetings Health Unconscious!

I visited my doctor the other day. It seems that I gained 20 pounds in the last 3 months. In trousers I went from a loose 36 to a tight 38, and in transportation I went from a Dodge Spirit to a Buick LeSabre. I was getting tired most of the time and was getting used to tasting my food twice. So the doc sends me to the lab for a little 'pin cushion' time so the lab technicians can find something to do. I walk out of the lab about 6 ounces lighter, after the white smocks got 4 vials of my DNA.

I also have to tell you that for the first time in my life my doctor is younger than I am. This isn't so bad except that he LOOKS a lot younger than I do. It feels like I'm visiting Dr. Freddie Muniz. On my return visit, he opens up with, "You know, you're not as young as you used to be." (He has an uncanny grasp of the obvious.) I say what I usually say when faced with my own chronology. "It's not the age, it's the mileage." This usually gets a laugh from the medic. "Right," he replies. No smile. Now I am nervous. He continues, "There are a number of factors we need to consider..."

"Well, Doc, how does it add up?"

The doctor pulls out a sheet of paper and proceeds to jot down this equation:

High cholesterol (328)
- energy
+ shortness of breath after strenuous activity (such as programming a VCR)
+ back pain
+ weight gain
+ acid reflux
+ purchase of Buick LeSabre
= Middle Age

He then gives me a couple samples of meds to try on for size, and sends me home to rest. On the way out of his office, I meet a charming young lady on her way in to the office carrying two shopping bags full of medication samples.
I say, "You don't look like you need all that."
She replies, smiling, "These are samples for the physicians."
"They're not that sick, are they?"
She laughs, "No, no. I work for the pharmaceutical company."
I go on, "I've never met a drug dealer before."
Her smile vanishes just before she does.

I got home and opened my sample box of 'Nexium'. Inside was a small bottle with 7 pills and a wadded-up sheet of paper that opened up into a second-year chemistry mid-term exam. No kidding, it unfolded to about 11x17 with chemical diagrams, graphs and charts and fine print-- explaining about side effects, drug interactions and 'helicobacter pylori' --whatever that is.
I also got a prescription for a cholesterol reducing medication. Lipitor. I have to consume one pill daily for the rest of my life. In other words, I have to take it until I die. That sounds pretty ominous, especially since they only gave me 30 pills. And once again, the Fiber Police have set up a stake-out in my kitchen, and all of my nourishment has to pass inspection before ingestion. I have to switch to a 'butter substitute'. It is made by either Union Carbide or SCJohnson's Wax and I think it may be called something like-- "I Can't Believe It's Not Toxic." To quote Tom Leher, "Just think of all the marvelous ways they're using plastics nowadays---". We are also searching for 'low fat' varieties of our old diet staples. Wendy wanted to know where she could find baloney with one-third less fat. Offhand, the Oprah Winfrey show was the only place I could think of.
       My picture is now posted in all the local drive-thru restaurants, with a warning that I am not even allowed to slow down enough to smell the food. I am told that I need 'anti-oxidant' vitamins. Antioxidant? On top of all of this, apparently I am now getting rusty.

After I return from overseas I am going to have my cholesterol level checked again. (It should be lower, as both cholesterol and saturated fat have been outlawed in China.) Then we go back for a stress test (I get to run on a treadmill for the amusement of the White Smocks) and the Examination That Strikes Terror In The Hearts Of All Middle Aged Heterosexual Men (otherwise known as the prostate finger-wave). It's kind of funny when you think about it. Twenty years ago an exam meant staying at a table bending over a test. Now it means staying at a test bending over a..... DON'T GO THERE!
I am still reeling over this medication thing. Zantac? Zocor? Nexium? Who names this stuff? My first guess is that a group of old 'Star Trek' groupies have infiltrated our drug companies. Maybe there's an old script lying around from Star Trek XXXVI (truly absolutely the final, final, final, we really mean it, final, final frontier -- part one) where William Shatner and Sigourney Weaver overact the following scene:
"Viagra! Viagra! Where are you?"
"I'm over here- Zoloft has me locked in this Citrucel!"
"Here, use my Benadryl, I'll have you out in a Prylosec."
"Listen, Advil, If we find the Nexium, we can escape before Prozac returns."
"Maybe we should warn Admiral Zantac before he lands on Lipitor."
"We can't contact him now! Dr. Zocor has the Imodium and is heading for a
standoff with Metamusil. Even a full Gaviscon can't help him now."
"Quick, take this Riopan full of Estrogen to Princess Fallopia. She will
take it to Paxil the Allegra who is hiding on Prednisone."
I shouldn't complain, at least our meds are not named after cars-- "Nurse, start a Buick I.V. - and give the patient 40cc's of Chevrolet."

O.K. So we've gone over the top again.