My wife and I were driving down India Hook Road one day last year when we heard a slight cough from the back seat, where our granddaughter, then four, was ensconced in her car seat.
“I’m not in good shape,” she opined.
Her observation cracked us up. It was instantly entered into the Grandchildren’s Hall of Fame under the category of Cute Things They Say.
That line came to mind last week while I lay in bed with an icepack against my cheek, commiserating with myself over a tooth extraction. Adding to my self-pity was that two days earlier I had purchased my first hearing aids.
The audiologist’s verdict that hearing loss prevented me from discerning sounds in higher ranges only confirmed what my wife had been telling me for years: “What’s that again, Dear?”
The reason I had my hearing checked in the first place was that our car recently had been rear-ended in Charlotte, the impact resulting in a persistent ringing sound in my ears – a condition known as tinnitus.
Between the dental bills and the hearing aids, I told my wife, there goes that trip to Italy you’ve been talking about.
Ten days earlier, I had visited my dermatologist, who froze 25 spots on my scalp to fend off any recurrence of skin cancer.
As a friend once observed, “Old age is not for sissies.”
Did I mention that my 69th birthday is weeks away?
As I lay there wallowing in a medically inspired funk, I reflected on the overall status of my health.
Sandwiched between the hearing aids and a lost tooth, I had seen my internist for my annual physical. He told that I appeared to be in excellent health. Also, a month earlier my eye doctor had given me a thumbs-up.
Despite our granddaughter’s gloomy self-assessment, I guess I’m in pretty good shape – for a geezer.
Yes, if I live long enough, my eyes will become clouded by cataracts.
If statistics for males my age are any gauge, I stand a good chance of contracting prostate cancer at some point before I croak.
And, yes, during my daily workout at the Charlotte Avenue branch of the YMCA, a twinge in my joints occasionally will remind me that the surgeon who treated my shattered pelvis after an auto accident on Hilton Head Island 32 years ago predicted I would need a hip replacement one day.
What allows me the equanimity to face the downhill march toward mortality is the assurance that a bunch of professionals are ready to fix whatever ails me in the meantime. The roster includes my internist, my dermatologist, my gastroenterologist, my ophthalmologist, my dentist, my periodontist, my audiologist and whatever other medical specialist I might require. Each of them knows me personally and has a vested interest in keeping me healthy.
Thankfully, because I am covered by Medicare and two supplemental policies, I am fairly confident that any treatment they recommend won’t force me to choose between the poorhouse and the funeral parlor. For uncovered medical expenses, I expect to have sufficient resources to pay the bills.
Given that most Baby Boomers enjoy similar protection – or soon will, as they reach the ripe age of 65 – I don’t understand why some people would rather shut down the U.S. government than see affordable medical care extended to the 15 percent of Americans currently without health insurance.
One argument raised by Tea Party-intimidated lawmakers is that the Affordable Care Act must be opposed at all costs because once people start benefiting from this “entitlement,” it will be impossible to take it away from them. Duh!
Even harder to fathom is that Gov. Nikki Haley and her fellow Republicans are turning down $11 billion in federal money over the next five years, which would have expanded the Medicaid program to an estimated 250,000 poor South Carolinians. After three years, the federal share of the additional Medicaid costs would drop from 100 percent to 90 percent; and South Carolina hospitals have offered to pick up the state’s share!
Even our granddaughter could see that something’s not right with this picture.
Email former Herald Editor Terry Plumb at email@example.com.