Just to give you young'uns (meaning, anybody under 65) a preview of what you have to look forward to, here's some glimpses of how my annual Medicare Wellness Visit went today.
First off, this really isn't a physical exam.
My primary care doctor did some perfunctory checking around -- listened to my heart to make sure it was beating, looked in my mouth to see if I had any teeth left, that sort of thing -- but a bigger part of the visit was a nurse asking me a bunch of questions before the doctor came in to the exam room about how I'm handling my 69 year-old activities of daily living .
One of my favorites was, "Have you fallen in the past year?" Which was followed by, "Are you afraid of falling?" I said No, and No.
But what I was thinking about was how I'd recently gotten up on top of our two story house and blown out leaves in the gutters with a Stihl backpack blower while walking along the edge of the roof. I couldn't resist mentioning this to my doctor, just to show how virile, brave, and studly I still am.
However, seemingly she was thinking of a different adjective, stupid, because she told me, "Maybe you should be afraid of falling."
I pretty much aced the other questions. It just was disturbing to be asked about stuff that could be in my decrepit future if I'm lucky, or maybe unlucky, enough to live that long.
Like, "Can you fix your own meals?" And "Can you do the laundry?" Regarding the latter, I told the nurse, "Sure, but my wife doesn't let me, because I always screw up something, like shrinking her clothes or giving them a new tint by mixing colors together wrongly."
Another not-so-cheery question went like this: "So if you collapsed right now, with your breathing and heart stopped, should I try to resuscitate you with CPR?"
At first I didn't understand what the nurse was getting at.
"Are you asking if I think you know CPR?" I said. "No, I do know CPR. The question is whether you'd want to be resuscitated." I had to ponder this for a while.
My wife has told me that what happens with CPR on TV or in the movies isn't what usually happens in real life. Instead of people being brought back to life all happy and normal, supposedly many, if not most, victims suffer irreversible brain damage. So I told the nurse, "I'd have to think about this. I'm not sure."
That was a decidedly downer question.
After I left the doctor's office I couldn't help envisioning other questions that senior citizen me should have been asked that relate to activities of my daily living that have a heck of a lot more impact on my quality of life than whether I'm able (or allowed) to do the laundry.
Are you able to grind marijuana buds and put the pot into the small receptacle of a vaporizer without spilling much on the floor?
When you smoke weed in the bathtub at night, along with drinking a glass of red wine, do you ever feel a bit dizzy when you get out of the hot water?
Answer: damn right. That's a feature, not a glitch.
Do you remember to ask for the senior citizen discount in the check-out lane at Lifesource Natural Foods before your credit card is charged?
Answer: yes. Except when I don't.
When you're watching TV news in your La-Z-Boy chair and Donald Trump is shown speaking, can your fingers find the mute button on the remote control within five seconds?
Answer: absolutely. It's a reflex action.
Are you aware when you've told the exact same stories repeatedly to your granddaughter about how cool it was during your college days in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1960s -- Summer of Love, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, psychedelics, Vietnam War protests, flower power, etc. etc.
Answer: yes. And I'm going to keep telling those stories anyway.
Do you have any problem with hearing your wife when she is telling you that you aren't loading the dishwasher correctly?
Answer: no. I just pretend that I do.
Are you ever prone to cognitive errors such as believing that when the youthful Starbucks barista smiles at you after handing over a grande nonfat vanilla latte, she has the hots for gray-haired old men?
Answer: sure, all the time. Fantastical thinking is how I'm getting through my senior years.