Within the next four weeks I have five medical appointments starting today at the cardiac device unit of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. I am already imagining the prodding and analysis to follow. My more immediate concern however is negotiating a parking space there and the following week at the orthodontist. I abhor penetrating tangled urban centres for any reason. It reminds me of the kerfuffle we had to endure years ago in downtown Montréal when the hotel where we were going was consumed by secret police for a high-ranking political congress. I couldn’t wait to get out of there and back home to rural Almonte.
We embodied all that is good about country living this morning when we began our early morning bicycle ride throughout the neighbourhood. The glistening sun was just over the roof tops of the houses shining directly into our line of sight. A number of other healthfully minded people were already performing their private constitutionals and savouring the fresh morning air by walking or strolling with their dogs. We lengthened our usual 5 km route today by going across the former railway line to the bridge over the first falls of the Mississippi River. The water today over the falls was dry, the large flat rocks lay beneath as though bathing in the sunlight; and the Old Town Hall was shadowed in the distance.
Today’s adventure at the Heart Institute is the least invasive but the most frustrating of the five fitness attendances. Two of the five are in the City; the others at our local hospital or in Town. All of them constitute a measure of clinical curiosity; all of them are part of a scheme which characterizes aging and the interminable search for what is wrong but for which inevitably there is no excuse other than the amorphous penalty of old age. It’s a politic rendition of decline and deterioration. There is no other explanation; there is no excuse, no remedy. Yet we persist to search for ever more complicated accounts and exotic analgesics, the mounting accumulation of which I happen to be carrying with me in a brown paper bag on this my first medical outing to the pacemaker clinic. Porting the brown paper bag is a demeaning almost nefarious pursuit akin to carrying a carpet bag full of gold jewellery to the auctioneer. Apart from that indignity this annual ceremony is comfortable. Clearly though they anticipate possible indescribable misfortune. Why else come so fully equipped? Surely my pacemaker battery is good for another 8.6 years.
Once we escape this particular necessity the remaining venture to the City will be conducted by family members acting as chauffeur following my moderate anaesthesia by the dental surgeon or her anaesthesiologist. It’s a pull and post routine to my knowledge. One which I shamelessly embrace as a further opportunity for another gold cap, a perversion spirited by my family dentist’s preference for that particular – and what he assures me is a highly workable – plaster. Here there is advantage to old age, the device by which to express one’s unqualified preferences without embarrassment or reservation.
Sadly this paltry agenda of mine is the lasting truth of being over seventy years of age. Long gone are the youthful models of graduation or new job celebration. Time to take off the caps and throw away the gusto! What’s required now is steadfast perseverance.
From the subsequent attendances I expect to acquire an updated visual prescription (to fill the ample breadth of my new tortoise-coloured frames), perhaps the identification of further degeneration and a repeat of “You’re just getting old!” diagnosis. It’s a standard reset of an imperative analysis.
As reward for my submission to this vital importance I bought peanut butter and maple syrup. They will fulfill my late evening yearning’s and post-breakfast addition. It will generally assuage the tedium of capitulation to age though it doesn’t yet suffice as socializing. One step at a time!