The thing I've noticed the most about my yearly physicals isn't the sights or the smells or the paperwork or the waiting. It's the sound.
Specifically the sound my doctor makes that he didn't used to.
Used to be, all I heard from him was a series of questions and then, "Well, that's great." "Super." "Let's keep that up and we'll be fine."
Now, I get a lot of "hmmm ... "
As in, "So, your blood pressure. Hmmm ... " Or, "that cholesterol level ... hmmm ... "
In just a few short years I've gone from positive words of encouragement and affirmation to, basically, the sound a ceiling fan makes. Fair, since my knees sound like shaking a change jar and my back makes the sound of wood splintering when I stand up. Lots of new, fun noises to identify!
It's just that, as a person who is of "a certain age," I'm repeatedly having to come to grips with the fact that, well, I'm of a certain age. And all that that implies.
Currently, it implies -- heck, it comes right out and says -- a lot of the things I used to take for granted I can't take for granted anymore. Like, potentially, if I don't tighten a few things up, breathing.
I know, it seems unfair. At a time when we're all concerned about the pandemic, realizing I'm still more likely to be offed by my own malfeasance is a bit of a rude awakening.
You see, for the longest time, my body and I were partners in all this. OK, up until puberty when it went off on its own for a bit. But then it came back under control and it and I marched along, mostly in lockstep for quite a while. However, that "quite a while" thing may be the issue.
Now, after years of being simpatico, one of us has decided to start, oh, not attacking so much as, well, OK, maybe actually attacking the other of us.
And yes, it's probably fair to say I did fire the first shot. Or double bacon cheeseburger with cheese fries, cheesy breadsticks and cheesecake. Because, maybe I like cheese a little too much?
So my body is certainly well within its rights to say that I started it. But is that really going to get us anywhere?
I am, of course, hoping that I can make amends, sort of shore up the relationship a bit. I've always thought of myself as a "glass half full" sort of person. Now, I'm being told the glass can still potentially be half full, but not with anything that has caffeine. Or whole milk. Or milk of any kind because, lactose. And maybe alcohol but only in moderation, not before driving and maybe not every day. And, OK, not half.
I'm coming to understand that, well, a few changes need to be made around here. And by "around here," I mean the immediate vicinity of my body. I realize the Lovely Mrs. Smith will be 100% supportive, but I dug this hole, so I can either climb out or keep digging.
And I'm at the general point in life where you don't want to be at the bottom of too many holes or someone might get ideas.
Which, again, brings us back to the barest semblance of a point that might well turn all this from a lengthy screed/whinefest to an actually useful dissertation. Namely, that while I've been sitting around, waiting for the Plague to knock at my door, I probably shouldn't have been waiting for it with snacks.
More about that cheese, for instance.
Not to diminish the impacts of the pandemic, which are plentiful, severe and need to be taken seriously with the appropriate precautions (wash your hands, wear a mask, practice social distancing, don't pretend just because you slept through a class next to where civics was being taught you're suddenly a constitutional scholar, take medical advice from doctors and not your crazy uncle on Facebook, etc.), but there might be a few other things I need to focus on as well.
Like we need to whip this virus, but I'm still more likely to die of heart trouble. And that's potentially, at least, sort of self-inflicted. Did I mention the double cheeseburger?
Got to make some changes. And, if I do, maybe my body and I can get back on the same page again and my doctor can use actual words and not, "hmmm ... ."
Gary Smith is a recovering journalist living in Rogers.