Wednesday, August 4, 2010
My Life in Dog Years-- I'm Not Such an Old Dog, But Not Quite a Young Man.
Now this may not be the best segue going, but I'm extremely lazy lately. A recent burst of melancholy and ennui has been replaced with another bout of sloth. There are reasons for this.
I don't sleep well. I am a living science experiment. I've had two major back surgeries. One of my spinal disks has been replaced with a titanium one. I was the first person in San Francisco to have this procedure done. For awhile, I was a popular subject with the doctors around the area. My neighbor, a nurse at Stanford, had overheard a conversation about me even though I'd had the procedure done elsewhere. Though I have been poked, prodded, jacked up (literally they kind of jack up your spinal column for a replacement procedure,) injected, had my disk fried, my nerves cut, bone in my spine removed, etc., etc. I still suffer a lot of pain. I have a numb foot. Sometimes I can't keep my balance. I nearly walked into a ditch the other day due to lack of feeling. And every once in a while, my doc who sees me every six weeks for my back, throws me another curve I have to deal with.
A couple of years ago, because of weight gain, I decided to stop taking a nerve medication that wasn't helping much. I thought I would die. Withdrawal is a terrible thing. My doctor is a great guy, but he doesn't know everything. He didn't know that I needed to cut back on the drug very gradually. I thought I was going crazy. I felt like I'd swallowed a million Mexican jumping beans. I couldn't cope. I wanted to crawl out of my skin. I was so tired I couldn't sleep. I know, sounds weird. Oh, I slept in snatches, five minutes here, ten minutes there, but for a few weeks it was awful.
Now my doctor has, I believe inadvertently, switched my medication again. It's a little easier this time. I simply am not getting the pain med I'd been taking before. I think the doc just made a mistake. Again, I'm often too tired to sleep well. My legs kick. I move to the floor at night so I don't wake my wife.
What's this got to do with dogs? I'll tell you. I have a lot of time to think in those hours I spend awaiting sleep. I think how old I am. I think how my dog, with luck may live another eight years. I think I have maybe another twenty years give or take a few. I think how lucky I am. I think how wonderful my family is. I think how miserable I am. I feel young. I feel ancient. I wonder how people work into their seventies or eighties. I don't know.
You know, The Who, in the song "My Generation" said "I hope I die before I get old." Growing up in the sixties, I think a lot of us thought that way. I don't now. But damn, no one told me this ageing thing was gonna be hard.
You know what else I think while I lie awake at night? I think that I wish I could age as gracefully as my dog.