Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Trip to the Doctor

Yesterday afternoon I made a trip to my second-to-least-favorite doctor.

My least-favorite doctor is the dentist. Throughout my childhood, I was plagued with inept dentists, who shot my jaw muscles full of Novocain, but never managed to hit the spot that actually deadened the nerve. Then there was the time Dad took us to the local dental school in order to save money; I came away from that experience with sore and bleeding gums. And when I was in seminary I broke a tooth during lunch one day. I went to the dentist across the street, who repaired the tooth, then laid out a course of treatment for me that included removal of my wisdom teeth and the addition of braces. Apparently he had a vacation home to pay off. I never went back to him. I hate dentists.

And, at least until I turn 50 and have to go in for a colonoscopy, the next on my list of hated doctors is the optometrist.

Actually, it’s not the optometrist I don’t like - although this guy was kinda creepy, with big bushy eyebrows and a big hairy eyeball! No, what I actually hate is going next door to pick out the new glasses.

Yes, it seems that whenever I go to the optometrist, there is always a need for new glasses!

My eye exam was at 4 p.m. It took less than ½ hour. I left the eyeglasses store at 6 p.m. You do the math!

I tried on virtually every pair of glasses in the store, as the salesman hovered nearby, wanting to be helpful. Well, I’m sorry, low-paid stranger who works in the mall, your opinion doesn’t count. And yes, I know the Ray-bans you are directing me toward cost four times as much as the store-brand frames I’m looking at. Deal with it!

Some of the glasses made me look dorky. Some of the glasses made me look like a 70’s porn star. Some made me look like a retiree living in Miami. Some even did the impossible and made me look “smart”.

Hey, I've got a reputation to protect!

My eyes were growing tired, my ears were hurting, and my patience was running thin. I was about ready to give up for the day, but I knew I would just have to return and do it all over again another day. So I narrowed my choices down to three and made a decision I will have to live with for the next two or three years.

Next came the really fun part. Adding up the bill.

Of course, there is a new type of lens I should try, and it costs only a little more than what I had, but it will make me see so much better. Throw in the anti-reflective coating, the UVA-UVB protection, the scratch-resistant coating…

The salesman’s hand moved quietly to his calculator.

Was that slight hand tremor I detected a mini-orgasm?

Next came the sunglasses. Same thing. Plus a polarized coating. Again, the salesman’s hand moves quietly over his calculator.

There was that tremor of excitement again.

Do I want insurance for only $29?

I asked to see the bottom line. For two pair of glasses, I was already up to $1,400!


I could buy a seeing eye dog for that much!!!

Wait, there is a discount.

There is always a discount.

That brings the total down to “only” $973.

Okay, then. Add the insurance.

That’s $29 per pair.

Yes, I know.


I’m only eight months away from my 50th birthday and my next doctor’s appointment. Might as well get used to the feeling now.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Painting Blues

When I returned from Annual Conference earlier this month, I decided I would make a concerted effort to paint the interior of the parsonage. It's my own way of making a church-owned house feel more like a home. In the past, I have gone room-by-room over the course of my tenure at the church. Some of the parsonages were serious "fixer uppers" - floors, walls, plumbing, electric. I've done it all. And some of the renovation projects were "extreme makeovers" and took months to complete. This parsonage is relatively new, well designed, and comfortable. It's just not home. So I bought five gallons of paint - two dark green for the master bedroom, a light blue for the sunroom, and two gallons of creamy white for the breakfast room and living room. The bedroom is finished and looks great. I've applied a gallon and a half of the creamy white and now realize it is too light. I'm going to have to start over. The paint costs $30 per gallon. Dammit!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Health Update

It has been a while since my last post.

No, I am fine. Thanks for asking.

After Pentecost, I took a week off to relax and rejuvenate. I rented a condo at Green Turtle Bay on Lake Barkley and just "chilled". I took along a laptop and my iPad, thinking I would spend some time writing and blogging, but I was too busy "relaxing".

I don't normally endorse businesses, but the condos at GTB are excellent, the lake view is beautiful, and the getaway was incredibly affordable! You should try it sometime!

Then last week I attended our Annual Conference, as all good United Methodist pastors are supposed to do. I am not a meetings-oriented person, so this four-day event is always an endurance test for me.

It would be fair to say that I was "present", but not always "accounted for".

Since there had just been a General Conference, there wasn’t much work to do at our Annual Conference. So the four days in Jackson were mostly devoted to getting reacquainted with old friends, colleagues, and former church members who were there representing their churches.

One of the highlights of the week (which demonstrates how boring the week can be) is the Health Fair, sponsored by Methodist Healthcare. They set up in the lobby every year, and every year I stop by and let them poke and prod just to make sure everything is still working properly. I save the reports from year to year to compare my stats and to chart my progress… or regress.

So on Tuesday morning, I submitted to the annual routine. I had planned to “fast” before the tests so my blood sugar count would be lower, but as I sat through the morning Bible Study with a banana nut muffin in my hand, I threw caution to the wind and ate it.

Long story short, I’m happy to report that I am healthy. Allow me to brag for a moment:

--My blood sugar count was only 86, the target being less than 110.
--My total cholesterol was 172, the target being less than 200.
--My cardiovascular risk (a self-assessment) was only 24, the target being 38 or less.

Now the confession: a point of concern for me is my weight. According to the charts, I am 55 pounds over the “ideal” weight for my height.

Or maybe I am just too short for my weight. I don’t know. The scale showed my Body Mass Index (BMI) to be 31, the goal being between 18.5 - 24.0.

I'll work on that... right after lunch!

But the really interesting part of the experience was the blood pressure test. There were two persons operating automated blood pressure cuffs. I sat down at the first and offered my left arm. The reading was 143/82. This alarmed me! I have always been blessed with low blood pressure. When I was in college, I checked it on one of those machines in WalMart and it was like 97/59. Those numbers weren’t even on the chart! Concerned, I went to the school nurse and asked what I should do about my low blood pressure! She tried to assure me that low is good. I said, “But mine’s hardly even there!”

Back to the present: I regularly donate blood and when the Red Cross checks, my BP is usually around 120/80.

Maybe all the salt I add to my French fries is starting to affect me!

So I moved down the table to the other person and asked him to check it again. This time he checked my right arm. That number came in at 115/97. So I asked why the difference. He shrugged and blamed the machine.

We moved back down to the first cuff and tried my right arm again: 134/83. Hmmmm.

The woman operating the first machine then checked her own BP. Nope. Normal.

So then they checked me the old fashioned way, with the manual cuff and stethoscope: 125/65.

Finally, we moved back down to the second station and checked again: 119/86.

So while this is probably not medically correct, the average score of these five tests puts me at 127/82. I can live with that. Literally.

The final step of the assessment is when a volunteer reviews your test scores with you. I wanted to assure her that the blood pressure numbers were suspect – I know that a count over 140/90 falls into the pre-hypertension range.

She wasn’t concerned about that. “These things happen.” After all, I was at Annual Conference.

I thought she was going to whack me about my weight and BMI. No, she wasn’t concerned about that either. “I sometimes think they want us to be too skinny.”

No, what she focused on was the fact that I do not have a “primary physician”, and that I have not had a physical exam since 2010.

In my defense, a physical exam is only recommended for a person my age every two years. And the doctor who performed my last physical once again declared that I was “the picture of perfect health”.

As for a primary physician, when I get sick, I go to “Ready-Care”. Besides, I have dinner and drinks with my favorite pediatrician on a regular basis!

Please don’t think I am making light of this. I take my health seriously. I have sat beside the hospital bed of too many elderly church members who have told me, “If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself!”

Words of wisdom!