The High End of Hope, by George Davis
I hope the reader can learn something from my experiences. I am not a man of letters. I have no MD, BS, MBA, PHD or Fiddle D D. I am just a man who lost fifty five years of his life, wasted it by not accomplishing the goals set at the tender age of eighteen. I wanted to be a teacher and that did not happen. I thought I wanted to be a medical technologist and when we had career day at school the medical representative showed us a film, and discussed it’s content. He lost me when on the screen a human liver and lungs were displayed, blood and all.
“Put your head between your knees, George and the queaziness and lightheadiness will go away. Go ahead, do it now before you faint.”
That was all it took to change my mind about the medical field. Then I wanted to be an FBI agent, but I would have to have a degree in law or equivalent. That was out of the question, I squeaked by in high school. I wasn’t particularly fond of physically fitness.
I weighed one hundred thirty seven pounds, smoked cigarettes and the only exercise I got was pushing nineteen. Didn’t they have a career where I could become a millionaire without fainting, doing push ups ( I could do three at the time) or going through physical training?
All this lack of exercise, smoking, drinking and overeating started in my youth, but didn’t catch up with me until mid life. Talk about mid life crisis...mine was mid life devastation. All of a sudden I was on pills, something I never took with the exception of an occasional aspirin. Now I was on twelve pills a day, green, pink, orange, white and brown. I suppose I should feel fortunate that the meds are for physical problems and not mental. I know people who take pills to sleep, pills to wake, pills to slow them down and pills to speed them up. I often wonder what will happen if they should take all those pills together at the same time. Wow! That would be like taking all those pills with prune juice you’d spend your afternoons on the throne. I couldn’t have enough magazines to make that a good experience.
I got a phone call the other day from a large pharmacueical company that wanted to know if they could buy some of my beta blockers back; said they were running low. All kidding aside, as if that is possible, I take pills for just about everything, heart, diabetes, cholesterol, and high blood pressure. See what can happen in a short span of time, or what seems like a short span.
Where did all the time go? I went to bed one night when I was eighteen years old, when I woke I was seventy three. What happened in between. Let me tell you what happened. When I was nineteen, at the recommendation of a lethargic, inane dentist, I had my upper teeth extracted and replaced with a mouthful of plastic.
“Why wait until your teeth fall out, let me pull them now, and you will be ahead of the game. You are only going to have to have them all pulled someday. Why not now...get it over with.” Looking back, that was the most idiotic statement a profesional person could make. It’s the same philosophy I had when I was four, “why take a bath I’m only going to get dirty again anyway?” So my body parts replacement began one year after I graduated from high school. As time went on it got worse. At twenty, I had to have glasses to read, then a lull of thirty some years and it all started over. At fifty four, I had a triple bypass heart operation. They took veins from various sections of my anatomy and sewed them into the arteries of my heart. Then I had problems with hearing in my right ear for some time, probably since the age of forty five, then In my sixties I started having dizzy spells. I know I’m dizzy anyway, but these were vertigo dizzy spells. I went to four doctors, and not a one of them could tell me what was causing these episodes. One day, tired of being referred to a ‘specialist’ I looked in the Yellow Pages of the phone book. I picked out an ENT doctor, (ears nose and throat) and made the appointment. One week later and ten minutes into the visit she told me, I had Meniere’s Disease. She is the only doctor, other than my old family physician, that had the ability to diagnose instantly and I left her office without a prescription in my hand.
In my fifty fourth year, I had a triple heart bypass operation, The doctor swapped veins from various sections of my anatomy, and sewed them into my arteries leading in and out of my ticker.
The heart operation was easy, and I spent remarkably little time in the hospital. It was the follow up I did not like. I had to go to exercise classes, ride a bike for fifteen minutes, tread mill for half an hour and walk the hospital corridor six times, and then come back into the gym and listen to a half hour drill on the evils of eating the wrong food. Now I am open to changing my eating habits, but this woman leading the class was a fanatic, a real nutcase in my estimation. She didn’t eat meat, nor fats, or sweets. No eggs, peanut butter, white bread, salt or anything I grew up eating. In her honor I came up with the perfect motto for that class, 'If it tastes good, spit it out!'
The lecturer always came to the meeting with a container of pureed carrot soup with no added flavor or seasoning. She tried to brainwash us into eating the same foods she ate. Have you ever eaten Carrot soup without salt, or have you ever eaten Carrot soup at all? I haven’t, but I have eaten tomato soup, in the hospital, that had no salt added. It tasted like wallpaper paste and had the same consistency. The chicken they serve, without salt of course, is boiled. I have never eaten boiled chicken in my life, the thought made me sick. The coffee was decaf and served with artificial sugar, which I do not mind, but, skim milk, that is a different story. There was no way I was going to drink that garbage, it turns gray when skim milk is added. What sort of drink is that? That’s the same color as mold or soot.
I’m old enough to remember the family doctor who took care of you from birth to old age or death, whichever came first. He treated you for colds, flu, broken limbs, tonsilitis, appendicitis, on up to Gout and Arthritiis. Today you go to your doctor for five years four times a year and he/she doesn’t even know your name. If it was not for the chart he held in his hand, he would have no clue who you are.
“Ahhh, let’s see Mr. Parchment...oh, I’m sorry I was reading the watermark. Let me see, you are here for a follow up on your historectomy...er...I’m sorry your swollen prostate gland. I must have the wrong chart. Duh!
The old family doctor charged four dollars and five dollars for a house call. A house call, for those who are too young to remember one, was when the doctor came to your house. Today you could have loss of hearing, no sight, and loss of the use of your arms and legs, have pains in four different parts of your body, and the doctor would say to your spouse, “Bring him in and I’ll have a look at him.” Bring me in? Where can she get a set of block and tackles on a weekend?
I take pills for heart, kidney, Meniere’s Disease, high cholesterol and more. Think about it, thirty years ago no one had ever heard of cholesterol and now one in three people have elevated numbers of the stuff. They try you on one pill; it gives you muscle cramps, so they try another and it makes you turn red and feel like your body temp is near the boiling point, and if you are fortunate enough they will eventually find a statin that works.
Doctors today are not as they were forty years ago. This new breed spend four years studying the art of prescription writing, and the rest of their education on learning to pronounce the word S-P-E-C-I-A-L-I-S-T.
Forty years ago you could call the doctor and actually speak with him or her. Today you leave a voice mail message, and if you are fortunate or unfortunate enough, he or she will call you at the end of the day. Try calling the doctor when you have had an emergency fall and hurt yourself, as I did two years ago.
“Thank you for calling the office of Doctor------. We are unable to come to the phone right now. Please leave your name and number, and a brief message and we will return your call as soon as possible.” How is HELP! Brief enough?
I’m laying on the floor with a sixty pound television set perched precariously on my right leg, which is beginning to resemble the Goodyear blimp and turning purple. I called back and told the receptionist it was an emergency. A half hour later I got a call from the doctor’s nurse; “I talked with the doctor and he thinks you better come over and let him take a look at your leg.” You think? After two x rays and a Sonnagram he made the decision to leave m leg alone, not drain around the edema filled area. Thank God.
Whenever you visit the doctor’s office, I love it., visit, sounds like you have dropped in for a cup of tea or something.
“Oh, good afternoon, I’m here for tea, hope I’m not too late.”
You are required to fill out a form every time you go. Makes you wonder if they keep losing your paperwork.
“Take this form and go over there (the waiting room) fill it out and return it to me.” After you fill out the forms they tell you the doctor is running behind; take your seat and wait. Forty minutes later the nurse comes out, looks around and whispers your name, “George Davis?” It’s your turn you follow her into an examination room where she takes your blood pressure, respiration, charts it, and tells you the doctor will be right with you. Fifteen minutes later he opens the door, looks at the chart (so he gets your name right) and shakes your hand.
“How are you today?” He asks.
You want to say, “You are the doctor, you tell me,” but courtesy prevents your sarcasm.
My old family doctor would sit behind his desk, light up a Camel, offer you one and then talk until the cigarettes turned entirely to ash.
“What’s the problem?” He would ask. You tell him how you felt, he diagnosed the ailment, prescribed a medicine or reassured you, it was nothing to worry about. You got up and went home. End of problem.
Did you ever wonder why your doctors handwriting is illegible? It is because he has writer’s cramp from writing prescriptions. He spends two years learning how to fill out one of those forms and four years learning to pronounce S-P-E-C-I-A-L-I-S-T before he does his residency.
Let take a look at a typical doctor’s visit: You arrive on time; they make you wait at least thirty minutes; you fill out all those forms, and then you get to see the doctor. He/she begins:
“You may experience some discomfort.” Translation: Get ready for some excruciating pain, Unbearable discomfort, and jaw jarring agony.
“This medicine has very few side effects. It is very safe." Translation: it is remarkably safe are the words of the salesman who left the samples for the doctor. Get ready to take the ride of your life. You will spin out of control. The Vertigo will be so intense you will wake in the middle of the night, head swimming and the room traveling at warp speed. Try throwing up into a ten quart cleaning pail traveling at the speed of sound. Good luck hitting the target.
“This surgery may have some minor setbacks.” Translation: Get ready to wake up hooked to four different machines. One for breathing, one to allow all that solution to drip into your body, one to monitor your heart, and blood pressure, and one to calculate everything for billing purposes.
“Does this hurt? “Translation: The doctor touches where it hurts the most, adding to the already torturous, unceasing throbbing pain. Then he asks, “Did that hurt?” as if he had not caused enough pain to make you go into cardiac arrest.
“How are we feeling?” Translation: Will you live long enough to pay your bill? If not would you mind paying cash on the way out? Where do they get this “we” thing? As if they felt your pain.
“Do you smoke?” Translation: This is an inevitable question. Either he wants to, one, ‘borrow’ a cigarette, two, he is working for the FDA, more likely he needs something to blame on your malady.
“Do you drink alcohol?” Translation: Because if you do, you will be restricted to a one ounce drink per day. If you do not imbibe, he is thinking, maybe you should, because that way you would not spend so much time bugging him about your ailments.
“You need to get more exercise.” I love this one. Translation: Your mind tells you to exercise while your body declares "you got to be kidding me." By the way, did you notice his new Mercedes in the parking lot?
“This prescription should take care of your problems.” Translation: “I would not lie to you.” Check the side effects. Often they are worse than the cure. You went to the doctor to get something to help you sleep, not vegetate. The small add on tags on your medicine bottle filled at the pharmacy for insomnia probably say something like this. “May cause light headiness, drowsiness (You can hope), diarrhea, upset stomach, headache, Gout, upper respiratory infection, pneumonia and get this, insomnia and death.
“I want to see you again in two weeks.” Translation: I need to make a payment on my new Mercedes by the end of the month.
When your Chevy needs repair you go to the dealer. When your body needs repair you go back to the manufacturer, Jesus. There is no higher calling than to Trust and Obey, no higher hope than, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
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