Cataracts, varicose veins! What's next?
by Ron Wayne
As of today, words on one of my favorite T-shirts tell a lie: “Made in 1956. All Original Parts.”
My right eye now has a new synthetic intraocular lens. My left eye is up next later this month.
Excuse me, as I lament the signs my body is creeping toward a decrepit state.
The growth of cataracts is a sure signal as most surgeries are done for people over 60.
At the other end of my body, my feet are turning increasingly blue with varicose veins. I also have osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis.
My hair has pretty much left the top of my head while growing quickly in my nose and ears. And are those ear lobes growing longer?
At the same time, I look at my feet and think about how far they’ve carried me in 64 plus years, throughout so many jobs, relationships and roles in life. My eyes have seen so much beauty in the world — the faces of family, friends and lovers; oceans and rivers; skyscrapers and mountains; paintings and sculptures.
I feel lucky that my hearing has remained OK — so far.
And I’m thankful for modern medicine. I’ve had four colonoscopies to prevent cancer. I strongly believe they saved my life. And I’m told I can expect much improved vision after the cataract surgeries.
The actress Bette Davis said growing old ain’t for sissies. My late mother demonstrated that truth. She survived many health challenges to live until she was 85 when she just gave up and stopped eating. She had late-stage cervical cancer soon after I was born. She was not quite 40, and chemotherapy was not as prevalent or refined. With the care of a great doctor, she was treated with radiation therapy and some drugs. She miraculously survived.
Unfortunately, excess radiation caused scar tissue in her colon, which caused blockages that had to be surgically removed two decades later. Daily life was not easy after that, but she kept working hard in her catering business, traveling with Dad and being a mom and grandmother. In her last years, she had breast cancer and osteoporosis.
Almost to the very end, her brain remained alert, and her personality as ornery as ever.
I think the worst affliction of old age would be dementia. I want my brain to keep working now that I have the time to learn more about myself and the world.
I never want to lose the many wonderful memories of my family, friends and experiences. They keep me going during these pandemic days of social isolation, and remind me of what matters most in this life.
So I plan to stay healthy and in charge of my faculties. I know there will be challenges. But as Kanye West and Kelly Clarkson sing, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.