Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Friday, January 2, 2015

There Was a Crooked Man…

…and he walked a crooked mile, 
He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile; 
He bought a crooked cat which caught a crooked mouse, 
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

So it went like this, see, I went to my Doctor's on December 18 of the year just passed. I wasn't ailing or anything, you understand. It was just a regular routine look under the hood and thumping of the tires. These become more frequent as you age. They keep a check to see what rusty part might have sputtered over the last half year.

I didn't see the actual doctor on this visit. I saw one of his Nurse Practitioners, of the female order. This was of no never mind, as my grandmother use to say, because I had a female doctor for a couple of decades until she closed down her office last fall. (If you are wondering about what a
Nurse Practitioner is, they are Nurses with above and beyond General Registered Nurse education, thus kinda super nurses  They can do pretty much everything your General Physician can do, they just stopped short of the MD.)

Everything went swimmingly. She found a heartbeat, always a good sign, and my blood pressure didn't burst anything on the sphygmomanometer. Always feels good when you can fly on through these checkups without them pushing some new pill down your throat. Of course, she gave me blood work for my next oil change, so there will be a bunch of scales and ranges that might say this guy needs some STP or something to keep the motor from knocking. 

However, I made one little mistake. I didn't sit up straight enough, which actually is hard to do when your seated atop those examination tables with your feet all dangling down barely tapping the floor. There is no back to lean against and you just sort of slip into a slouch. 

She asked if I had any pain?


"In your back from the curvature of your spine?"

"No, not really."

"Have you had a recent injury?"

"No. I've had this curvature all my life, as far as I can remember. I figured I was born with it. I got the usual Quasimoto and "ringing any bells lately" comments.

"I thought maybe I had Scheuermann's Disease," got to show off my own medical acumen. I think I pronounced it "Sugarmann's Disease". She didn't react much to my medical know-how though.

Now Scheuermann's Disease is characterized by a very distinct rounding or hump in the back as shown in the illustration on the right. This becomes more pronounced when the patient bends over. On the left is a photo of myself when we were laying carpet the other year and you can see why I would consider myself a victim of Scheuermann's. 

Ms Nurse Practitioner began typing on her pad. Next thing I know I am making appointments for X-rays and Physical Therapy.  I was quite surprised how quickly I could get these appointments.

I had three X-rays ordered, but only one for bone density actually required I set up an appointment. I Googled the lab locations and only one in my general area performed a Density scan. It was located out on Augustine Cut Off.  I could come get it done the very next day.

They told me come 10-15 minutes early, paperwork you know. You usually spend more time in doctors' offices filling out paperwork than anything else. I had the jump on them though. I went to their website and I filled out and printed the required new patient data form and medical history and some other stuff. I had everything together, man, Mr. Efficiency.

I had never been to this particular medical mall before, but I had good familiarity with the area where it sat. I still determined to levee 40 minutes before the appointed hour to allow time for traffic or whatever. It was the whatever that proved the problem.

So I am getting ready and want to take a shower, but decide to wait until some laundry finished. The digital readout on the washer said 15 minutes to go.  I checked after a bit and it said 17 minutes to go…what the hey! I go back and forth and the time jumps up and down, thus I stop and stand over the washer like watching it will make it behave and it just ain't acting right and then an error code pops up. DE, it says, whatever that means. I open the door and swish the contents about and I see the water isn't draining out. I close the lid and another code appears, FL. What's this, Freepin' Loser?

Upstairs to the office room to the file to the manual on the washer. FL is "Failed to Lock". Okay, the washer locks the door closed when it starts to keep you from thrusting in an arm and having it ripped off. DE  means the washer is off balance not allowing it to spin. How DE stands for that I don't know, but I got an answer. I rush downstairs, pull some of the quilts out (me wife was doing bedding) and now it locks and it spins and water comes out and I run upstairs and grab a shower while it is doing this and then dress and back down and yes the water has all spun out and I plop the bedding in the dryer and I put the quilts I pulled in the washer on spin only and I look at the time and I haven't got 40 minutes anymore.

I grab my coat and go rushing out and on my way. Still shouldn't be a problem getting there on time. I am closing in on the entry of Augustine Cut Off, speed straight ahead and turn onto Rt. 202 South and it is just down the highway. But I suddenly find you can't turn onto Augustine no more, no more. They changed the roads around here a couple years back, cutting off the cut off from 202 and I should have turned earlier on to Park Drive, but too late. I must enter I-95, go into Wilmington and sneak up on the Lab from the other side. 

I just make it. Whew, ain't I good. Old got-it-all-under-control Larry! The Receptionist asks for my medical insurance card and my
Photo ID.  Then she asks for the Doctor's Orders.


 Smack me upsides the head! I left the Doctor's Orders at home right where I laid them so I wouldn't forget to take them. 

"I don't have them," I whimper.

She begins perusing her computer and she finds the Doctor's Orders for the bone density test, but not the others. This is okay, because it was only the bone density requiring this appointment anyway. 

In moments a friendly lady calls my name and leads me to a back room, bidding me lie down on this … uh …bed. Sounds rather seductive, don't it, a strange woman, a back room, a bidding to a bed?  But the bed is hard and unglamorous to say the least and the back room is an examination room and the lady is a Radiology Technician. She isn't going to see me with my clothes off; she's going to see me with my flesh off. "I can see right through you," she will say. 

She didn't say that. She did say she never knew a Radiology Technician who didn't have thyroid problems. 

She went behind a wall and this machine like something out of Flash Gordon passed over me, pausing here and there and making bips and peeps.

Once I was done, I quickly drove home, snatched the other orders and returned for another nice lady Radiology Technician, on a different floor and different back room, to X-ray my neck and my curving backbone.

I haven't heard any feedback on my X-rays to date. I moved on to my next assignment, Physical Therapy.

I admit to some dubiousness about this. I mean, good golly Miss Molly, I'm in my 74th year. What're they 
goin' to do about this crooked man now. I expect my vertebrae are pretty set in their rounded ways by now. Then when I arrived for my first session I had even more tremors of reluctance. I pulled up and could see through the slat-blinded windows a large room with equipment here and there. It was like a gym. Was all this going to transpire in open public, with other people, and (dread, dread) would I have to take my shirt off? The paper of instruction said wear loose clothing like workout pants and a shirt easily removed. I hated being a "skin" in high school gym class and nobody wants to see a 73-and-a-half year old man's naked chest. 

On entering I faced a counter and a loose-leaf notebook and a sign saying, "sign In", but I could not figure out the book and so just sat down in a nearby chair wondering how quick I could get out of this place.  A young man greeted me, but I had a hard time understanding what he said, but then a young
woman (almost anybody working still is a young man or young woman to me anymore) called me back to another back room, or side room actually, and bid me not to the bed within, but to sit on a chair. Her name was Kelly and she would be my therapist.

I have nothing but good things to say about Kelly and the others at NovaCare. She quickly made me comfortable, asked a few questions and explained about the backbone with a detached one in her hands. She then showed me several exercises, which I do there and at home, pictures of which are scattered about this piece.

She finally took me out into that big room, where others were being worked upon, but nobody had any shirts or otherwise off, although I saw them direct a lady to remove her pants, but she was wearing gym shorts beneath. I sat upon a chair and Kelly strapped a bulkily device about my neck that was 
some kind of heater disguised as a towel. She then pasted four electrodes across my upper back and shoulders. 

"Is this going to make me confess everything I've ever done?" I asked her.

She gradually turned on the juice and at first I felt hardly more than a slight twinge. She kept turning it up, telling me to say when to stop. I guess I'm a glutton for pain for I just kept indicating "up", even when it felt like a bunch of pins repeatedly sticking me. Finally the pins turned to a bubble effect and I said, "stop". I then endured this odd sensation for ten minutes to loosen up my muscles, whats left of them.

It was akin to having Flacco, my daughter's giant Siberian Cat playing the piano on my back.

But it felt good. Everything about the experience was positive and now I am visiting three times weekly to do my exercises and have my back electrocuted. And lo-o-oving it!

We will see if this leads to me standing up straighter in the end. I wonder if it will even make me taller. I long felt if I had not this curved spine I would have been six foot two rather than just six foot.

We will see.


1 comment:

Ron said...

Something else we have in common Larry. My neighbor Barbara several times has told me "you're too bent over" while observing me working in my back yard. Like you, I'm thinking "Well, I am getting older and it's harder and harder rot stand up straight. I guess I've been getting a little lazy by slouching around. After reading your blog I'm starting up my exercises again. That helps my posture. Also makes me feel better.
Thanks Larry for another well written blog entry on your life experience.