My gynecologist couldn't find my ovaries. I assured her they were there. She apparently didn't believe me, because she brought in her nurse for a second opinion. The nurse couldn't find them either, so I suggested they get a searchlight because by now I was hyperventilating.
"Move the light to the right," the nurse requested. "I'm not sure, but could that be one of them, over there? In the upper right?" she pointed.
"No," answered my doctor. "That was my first thought, too, but that's... I'm not sure what that is."
She raised her head up from between my knees and looked at me quizzically. "Are you sure your doctor didn't remove your ovaries when you had your hysterectomy?"
"I'm absolutely certain. Now, please tell me how I could have lost them? I've passed the age where I enjoy traipsing around naked, so if they happen to have dropped out, wouldn't I have noticed them in my underpants?"
"If you're sure the surgeon left them in, then they're not lost. Don't panic, we'll find them... wherever they are."
"Is that supposed to comfort me? I really don't want to think about them hanging out any place other than where they're supposed to."
They continued their search like demoniac scavenger hunters who, having followed the map perfectly, were bewildered when the treasure wasn't where it was suppose to be.
They may have been bewildered, but I was humiliated; especially when the doctor finally located them and said, "No wonder I couldn't see them. They're the size of tiny raisins."
This was the ultimate old age reality check.
My friend Rita told me that retirement was created so senior citizens could have time to schedule all their doctor appointments. She was right. If I'm not in a doctor's office looking for a cure, I'm there in hopes of preventing some ominous illness. I no longer trust my instincts or my body. They've betrayed me far too often. I've learned from watching television commercials that I should not be complacent about my body. I need to be more concerned -- more pro-active. I know now that what I used to dismiss as a common ache could actually be symptoms of an impending hip replacement. What once passed as mere indigestion may now signal the beginning of heart problems. Not seeing clearly used to mean I should clean my glasses, or get a stronger prescription; today I know it indicates the onset of cataracts, or maclear degeneration.
I asked my ophthalmologist, "How will I know when it's time to have my cataracts removed?"
"Right after you kill your first pedestrian," he answered.
Of course he found humor in the situation; I don't think he's reached puberty yet. In fact, all my doctors look like they just graduated high school.
And what about driving? Everyone pokes fun at the way senior citizens drive. Trust me, if they drive badly it has nothing to do with poor eyesight or slowed reflexes and everything to do with insufficient sleep. I explained to my doctor that I average between two and three hours of sleep nightly. I go to bed with ear plugs to keep out sound, Breathe Right™ nasal strips to let air in, a machine that emits comforting white noise, a plastic device in my mouth to prevent teeth grinding and two sleeping pills. Still you'll find me tossing, turning and wide awake throughout any given night, which isn't all bad, because nightly runs to the bathroom have become so frequent, they now replace my daytime exercise program.
My doctor's response to my sleep problem is that I'm probably getting as much as my body requires. Easy for him to say; he wasn't in my car when a cat nap caused me to come this close to killing my first pedestrian and, consequently, having cataract surgery.
I thought the one thing I still had going for me was my hearing, but even my ears deceived me the other day. My husband and I were waiting our turn at our bank's drive-up window. A sudden explosion of piercing music caused us to nearly hit our heads on the car's ceiling.
"Will ya' listen to that?" Mighty Marc said. "That damn kid in the pickup truck in back of us has his radio turned up so loud, it's deafening."
"Deafening is an understatement," I offered. "I can barely hear you. I give him two years before he's stone deaf."
For the next five minutes we discussed the thoughtlessness of the young man, while my voice became hoarse and a headache built up steam.
Livid, and no longer able to ignore the situation, I opened my window and prepared to stick out my head and demand that he lower his volume several decibels out of respect for those who didn't share his love of what passed as music today. But a strange thing happened. When I lowered my window, the volume became softer. It was then that I turned to my husband and asked, "Could you have inadvertently activated the radio controls that are located on the steering wheel?"
He checked, then looked at me sheepishly. With the flick of a button, he was able to make the racket stop.
We spent the next five minutes convulsed in laughter and accepting that we no longer had to worry about getting old; we already were.
Follow Laverne H. Bardy on Twitter: firstname.lastname@example.org