By Fred Owens
A quick survey of my pals around the country -- from email contacts, phone calls and Facebook posts -- showed variations of Old, Weak, Tired and Scared, not to mention Poor and Lonely.
I am making this sound much worse than it is, but here goes:
Al K. in South Texas fell and broke his hip. He's stuck in the Rehabilitation Center for now. His wife said he got a four-hour furlough to come home on Christmas Day in a wheel chair. That was five days ago, he might be better now.
Stuart in LaConner seems to be recovering nicely from back surgery. He is out walking and playing golf and he sounded cheerful on the phone.
Marc Zappa has COPD. We have no new report here, but he struggles to walk the dog and climb the stairs. I told him we need to discuss the Grateful Dead in our next phone call. Zappa is a major Dead Head. He has every tape ever imagined of any possible Dead Show.
Bruce does nine hours every week at the kidney dialysis center in Santa Barbara. He says if you have two kidneys and you are under the age of forty, might he borrow one. Bruce continues to be in good spirits.
Jim, also in Santa Barbara, will find out if his prostate cancer has spread. He said it might be terminal.
Amy, back in LaConner, has a tumor in the back of her eye. Her husband told me it is too dangerous to perform a biopsy in that location so they don't know what will happen. Hopefully nothing.
Mark in the Hollywood Hills has multiple myeloma. I have to look that up and learn what that is, otherwise his wife, who is a retired nurse, can fill me in.
So I heard from all these people and I wasn't even looking for bad news. You're supposed to not let it get you down. You're supposed to not feel Old, Weak, Tired, Poor, Scared or Lonely. But you do sometimes.
Enough of That. This is part of a series temporarily called No Country for Old Men, a title borrowed from Cormac McCarthy without his permission. The topic is Medical Education. The method is to be lucid and matter-of-fact. These things just happen. I got the idea years ago from Roger Geffen, a retired Episcopalian priest who lived in Newton, Massachusetts, and raised twenty species of bamboo that could grow in the harsh climate of New England. Roger's left arm just hung there from a stroke. He pointed to it with his good right hand and he said. "My left arm doesn't work anymore." He spoke the truth. Truth is good. Truth is beauty. So in reporting on this topic I will lay it out as plainly as possible. I will write the truth as I am able.
Health Care Issues. Will millions of aging Baby Boomers use up every available health care asset in the country? That is a good question because the tidal wave is coming soon. I am on the cusp of the Baby Boom, born in 1946, so I have seen this crowd following me through life, and we are now facing the infirmities of old age. One partial solution to this problem is for us to make a lot of effort to take care of each other, and to depend less on the younger folks to look after us.
There aren't enough Filipino nurses to go around. The young Latino immigrants who would take nursing aide positions are being blocked at the border. Oh, we will get through this all right, and we'll do that by helping each other. If you have one good arm like Roger Geffen you can use that one good arm to wipe the fevered brow of a man with no good arms.
Gee, that's kind of serious stuff. I think we will go watch a movie tonight -- something funny and entertaining, like the Green Book with Vigo -- how do you spell his name? and the other actor -- how do you spell his name? Why don't they have Clark Gable and Henry Fonda anymore? They were good actors and it was easy to spell their names.
Twenty Years. Frog Hospital is celebrating 20 years of publication in 2019. Over 700 issues and some of them were pretty good. Our Credo has always been tell the truth and don't waste people's time -- meaning keep it interesting. We have done that. And we plan to keep going. Our motto is Onward!
Happy New Year,