Just Watching – July 2019

Here comes another of my “perennial” reports that is written, first, for other post-85 perennials – then to pre-perennials of any age who must deal with us, or who may to their surprise become one of us.  It happened to me – I never expected to be 90 years old.  It will happen to others. You.  Maybe? 

This month’s report is wrapped around two real life adventures Audie and I had involving unexpected trips to the hospital – an EMT experience (me last year) or an Urgent Care experience (Audie, this year) each ending up at Alexian Brothers Hospital. 

Last year’s EMT run began for me at home.  I don’t know how I landed on the bathroom floor in the middle of the night.  I had a 104 temp, later attributed to an internal infection.  When the two EMT guys arrived and picked me up they started by asking three questions: 1) What’s my name?  2) What year is this?  and 3) Who is president?  I got my name right but my other two answers of, “1985” and “Reagan” earned me a mid-night ride to Alexian Brothers Hospital followed by a four day stay.  So much for creative repartee.

This year’s hospital adventure is an Audrey story.  It started with her experiencing a wildly pounding and erratic heartbeat that demanded a 6 AM run to the nearest Urgent Care Facility.  (In other places that is sometime called an Emergency Room.)  Even though we had moved recently I fortunately knew where our nearest was.  By whatever name do you know where yours is?  Just in case?

The Urgent Care in-take doctor immediately examined her, gave her the first of many tests, electronically consulted with a distant specialist who is on call somewhere 24/7.  After some long distant conversation between the two doctors I was abruptly asked whether I was ready to drive her to the hospital immediately or should they order an ambulance.  That’s when we realized this was serious.  I drove. 

By the time Audie and I got to the ER of the hospital she had been already been electronically pre-admitted, the results of all her Urgent Care tests had been forwarded, the hospital’s medical intake team was ready and waiting, a hospital room had been assigned to her as soon as she had been properly prepped.  Wow! 

The rest of her story about her erratic heartbeat and the subsequent treatment may come later.  It was remarkable.   But the Lessons for The Day, first for me and then for my shrinking pool of perennial peers needs more immediate attention.

Start with this: Audie and I are not a couple of chronic hypochondriacs.  We are just two 90-year-old Super-Senior perennials who are finding out to their surprise that some body parts are worn down while others have essentially worn out.  Hence our recurring medical experiences.  They are nothing new.  We have noted time and again that Super-Senior are living longer and are living longer longer. 

Surprising as has been our rising awareness of the medical problems that attend our l-o-o-o-ngevity condition is discovering the amazing changes that have quietly taken place in the medical field as we have been getting older.  The result of all this is that we face life and death choices that even our most recent ancestors did not have.  Is that good?  Bad?

For instance, a wide range of for medical specialists have developed who have committed a big chunk of their life preparing to answer our special Super-Senior needs.  GPs properly refer us to them at the drop of a hat. Whether in the hospital or in their offices these specialists do their highly skilled thing and then quietly move out of our world like ships passing in the night.  God bless them.  Three or four of them played a part in meeting Audie’s recent need.  Without them she was facing a stroke or heart attack, common Super-Senior experiences in much of the recent past.  But practicing their skills effectively presents a question for those who are older: “Now that due to their expertise many of us are living longer what are we to do with our added years?” 

If you don’t think that vast changes have taken place in the practice of medicine during our lifetime let Audie give you her insight.  While sitting in her room I chanced to survey the multitude of dials and hoses and cords affixed to the walls around her bed and also at the rolling electronic cart the nurse towed along and on which she recorded all kinds of results as she made her rounds.  Audie started her professional life as a graduate nurse.  I asked her, “When you started working what of all you can see was then in a hospital room?”  She answered, “The bed (and a much different and more basic one at that) and the pole on wheels from which we occasionally hung a drip bag.”  That’s it.  “Toto, we aren’t in Kansas anymore!”  So what does all this medical change/challenge/opportunity mean for Super-Seniors in 2019?  That’s a great question!

That’s enough about the current medical adventures of Audie and Charlie for now.  I report on them to my peers as some of the things that Super-Senior survivors like us (and you?) experience and as more evidence of the changes with which God surrounds by His will and determination as we strive to live the Christ-life to its fullest. 

Keep on keeping on.  Until He says differently there is more perennial world to come!  Ready?  I mean, really ready?

Blessings, Charlie