There are a lot of things about growing old I don’t like. Actually, aside from being terrified of the alternative, there is nothing about growing old I do like.
On Tuesday, I had an ultrasound for the veins and arteries in my upper body, mostly my neck, chest, and heart. We’ve been watching all of them for quite some time now and by “we” I mean me, of course (oldest child in charge of fretting), and Sia, who started on this some months back after Esther retired and moved to Arizona (I’m not suggesting cause and effect, but in her case that’s what happened and the sequence in which she did it).
I have two stents in my heart and one in my right leg. All of them are related in terms of why I have to have them and I do ultrasounds every six months or so always expecting to learn I will need to have more. This is not news I am prepared to hear; actually, that’s a lie. I am always braced to hear it; I am not prepared to accept it. And that is sort of bull$hit as well since the only alternative to that is a dirt nap and I am absolutely numbed by that inevitability.
The exam room is always quiet and quite cool, hospital and medical offices often are. So, too, are morgues (it’s good to have a perspective on things). And it’s always dimly-lit. I have to tilt my head and move parts of my upper body just so in order for Sia to get the imagery she needs to gather so my cardiologist and the group with whom he consults can best determine how far much (more) plaque is in the thoroughfares in which my blood travels.
The colors from the monitor flicker on the room’s wall behind her, as she maneuvers the sensor and plots and tracks and occasionally double-clicks the mouse, to grab at a particular point the doctor wants. Sometimes she turns the audio from the microphone up as well and I can hear the rush of my own blood and the beating of my own heart. The latter always gets louder and faster because the former always surprises and scares me.
Out of the corner of my eye I can see the plasma display screen with various hues of blues, greens, reds and yellows all of which look to me like a bad TV weather map (‘and we’re forecasting hail the size of cantaloupe clear across Cuyahoga County as you can see here’) and still she works methodically to scan the entire area. I imagine the screen is similar to that of a Super Mario game or some other outdated reference from when our children were kids.
The entire process takes less than an hour and always leaves me humbled (how someone could create devices that look into our bodies (though not our souls, thankfully, in my case) and how others make their livelihoods by knowing how to do this, rendering and reducing magic to a sideshow slideshow on a rainy Tuesday afternoon in early May in Eastern Connecticut.
Before heading home and back to everyday concerns I sat in my car for ten minutes or more (like Tuesday) until the shaking stops. I’m weary enough now that the travails often feel like trials but not strong or brave enough to want to know what’s around the next corner. Now or ever, I suspect.