Today is a New England spring day. The sun is bright, the sky is blue, and it’s in the mid-40’s. The weatherman calls this seasonable. I call it chilly.
Yesterday was a busy day for me. I was out and about early. I had a doctor’s appointment at 9:30 so I slept on the downstairs couch and set an Alexa alarm to wake me up. She did just fine. The Doctor has decided my back needs to be looked at again. He used his knee hammer on my right leg five or six times before it reacted with that quick kick. “Something’s wrong with this knee,” was his professional opinion based on years of schooling followed by years of doctoring. I tell him about that knee every year, and every year he schedules tests which show nothing. This year we’ll do another MRI on my back.
When I was a kid, we never had regularly scheduled visits to doctors or dentists. We went only for apparent Pain or injury. I remember seeing the doctor a day or two after I fell down the stairs when I was ten. I remember that doctor well. Pain sometimes does that: etches an event into a memory which dims but never disappears. That doctor, the one with no bedside manner, cleaned my chin gash quickly and painfully.
I remember sitting with my mother and then being called into the doctor’s office. It was Huge with high ceilings and lots of wood around doors and windows. The office was in the front downstairs room of his house. The doctor was huge with the sort of big belly some old men seem to get. He always wore a vest with suspenders underneath. The desk was wooden and befitting a huge man. He had a skeleton hanging near his desk. That fascinated me. He checked the gash then cleaned it as if he were cleaning tile grout and then put a butterfly bandage on it. He told my mother it needed stitches, but the cut had become infected in the day or two since the fall so he couldn’t close it. I was thrilled. I didn’t care if that cut stayed opened forever. All I cared about was no stitches.
I loved my first dentist. He always used gas so I never felt any pain, but my father made me switch from that painless, expensive, dentist to a really old, cheap, dentist who didn’t even use novocaine. I swear his drill was a pedal model like the old sewing machines. I remember gripping the chair arms so hard I must have left finger impressions. He soured me on dentists for a long time, but I had to have all dental work finished before I went to Peace Corps staging in Philadelphia. I faced my bête noire and was triumphant. At the dental check in Philadelphia, I was perfect, good to go.
I figure if my back is my only complaint, I can manage. I can still be good to go.