Painted with a Broad Brush

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

I went to the doctor the other day for an annual wellness exam. I’m not sure why my insurance company insists that I have a wellness exam but they pay me $50 to do it so, I comply.

The visit consisted of a fully clothed interview with a physician’s assistant who asked me what I wanted to discuss today. I had just come from a particularly fun mountain bike ride so I told her all about it.

She listened to my heart and lungs and stomach with a stethoscope placed over my down jacket. Her subsequent report said we had discussed: Mild brain atrophy and chronic kidney disease. I’ll have to concede the brain atrophy part because I have no recollection of having discussed either of those things. There was nary a mention of the stimulating bike ride.

The physician’s assistant’s assistant administered a cognitive test, asking me to remember three words and draw the face of a clock. Banana, sunrise and chair weren’t that difficult to keep in mind but it was difficult to resist responding, “It’s, uh, like, person, woman, man, camera, TV,” but feared she wouldn’t get the humor. She proceeded to take my blood pressure, 98/72, and checked my oxygen saturation 97%, weighed me, 121.8 (still fully clothed including jacket).

I was sent home with three pages of instructions. Here is a sampling:

  1. To prevent falls, take up throw rugs at home; use a walker or cane for instability and hold onto railings when going up or down stairs. Nary a mention of training wheels!

2. Please be sure to get some regular physical activity at whatever level you are able. I am also encouraging the following; Annual Flu vaccine (we had already determined that I was current on this), improving physical health, improve mental health.

I was super impressed that she was able to diagnose the fact that I needed to improve my mental health. Usually it takes getting to know me to learn that I need to work on that.

The last recommendation was to not drink any fluids after 6:00 P.M. to improve bladder control. That imposes a pretty narrow window since I’ve been told one shouldn’t start drinking until after 5:00 P.M. Gotta go now as it’s 4:48 P.M. and I need to roll up my throw rugs. Cheers!

Photo by Enis Yavuz on Unsplash

More Age-related Agonizing Reappraisals

Looking back at previous posts, I realized that I might need to reconsider my “Mountain Bike Musings” title. I haven’t posted anything about mountain biking since September! That’s not to say that I’m not riding, Sally and I ride almost every weekend; but, as I tap ever so gently at the door to septuagenarianism (yes, I will turn 66 in a few days), I find that the thrilling, rutted, rock-strewn, precipitous descents that once lured me into tongue-numbing fits of euphoria, just don’t. I still like to remember how it felt to defy gravity and harness it to my own need for speed, how absolutely alive I felt, sliding to a reckless sideways stop at the bottom. But now, when I look over the edge, contemplating the coordinated focus of mind and muscle it takes to navigate such a trail safely, my peripheral mental vision sees the inconvenience of self-induced, paraplegic retirement. My mantra, “Damn the rocks, full speed ahead” has been amended to, “Well, there’s always golf”.

The other factor in the taming of the desire for downhill fun, is the cost of gaining the requisite elevation. My mature legs complain when I try to push the higher gears of my new bike up the steeper grades. By the time I’ve climbed a couple of thousand feet, my legs are too spent to enjoy crouching over my back wheel as I slide down a roller-coaster steep trail.

Yesterday, we ran into a couple of old cycling acquaintances, one of whom had recently purchased an e-bike. An e-bike is a battery powered bicycle that basically turns any rider into Lance Armstrong. This chubby woman boasted that she was the only one in her group who could keep up with the fastest young guy in the pack. She extolled the benefits of this “bicycle” with such enthusiasm that Sally and I could not help but consider it as we pedaled home.

I had to confess that there were two factors preventing me from seriously considering purchasing what I think of as a lightweight motorcycle. The first is the cost: $5,500, which is $2,000 more than the beautiful, motor-less Intense Carbine I purchased just two years ago.

The second, and maybe the more compelling, is that I’m an elitist snob. There is something about self-propulsion that builds self-confidence. When I watch dystopian movies (seldom) and I see people desperately scavenging for gasoline, I think quite smugly, “I don’t need fuel; I have legs”. Also, all of the people I know who have e-bikes are overweight. Mountain biking is inherently a competitive sport, and when an out-of-shape, couch potato cruises next to me, chatting blithely while I gasp for breath like a decked fish, I am not thinking about how much I enjoy her company. I’m thinking how much I’m going to enjoy dropping her like a hot potato on the descent!

But then, I start thinking about the trails I could ride, ones I haven’t been able to climb in years. With a little assistance, I could get to the gonzo-abusive downhill that awaits at the top of those exhausting climbs! Maybe when I turn seventy…