A Few Good Friends
There was no “ah hah” moment when it came to the rotator cuffs in both my shoulders going bye-bye. My doctors and l agree they were probably old injuries that got progressively worse over the decades. Now with my ability to reach severely diminished, especially with my left shoulder (l can’t reach the console light in my car), and surgical outcomes for reattaching rotator cuffs poor in older people like me, l have no choice but to undergo Bionic Man reverse shoulder replacement major surgery. (The rotator cuffs are like elastic bands and if an injury is too old, the tissue has atrophied and it is difficult to reattach. Take a bag of rubber bands, throw them in a drawer for five years, pull them out, and all you got is dust.)
For someone who was never seriously sick or injured all his life and who at seventy has none of the conditions typical of old age, no cholesterol, no diabetes, no high blood pressure or heart disease – hell, for all my sleeping around in NYC at the height of the AIDS crisis, l’m HIV negative – coming down with knee issues and back issues and now shoulder issues hit me like a tsunami.
I had scoliosis as a teenager, and in those days the treatment was sleeping on a board. My posture all my life was never the greatest and l believe what l’m suffering from today may be rooted in these past problems, and perhaps may even be hereditary since l remember my mother complaining about arthritis-like pain when she was only in her forties.
To my credit, l was neither some super jock or weightlifter, nor a couch potato, and began deliberate moderate exercise in my thirties when l saw the donuts at the office coffee machine were ending up around my waist. Once l retired to Florida, that regimen got execrated to gym proportions. I didn’t smoke or take drugs or drink except for a few rum and cokes on the weekend, though l sometimes wonder now with all the shit that began hitting me in my late sixties whether l should have partied like it was 1999.
For the past three or four years I’ve been getting Ortho Visc shots in my knees, a lubricating anti inflammatory to hold back bone erosion, though last fall x-rays showed the med was not working as effectively as it had in the past
Senoisis of the spine hit me two years ago, where pressure is put on the spinal cord, creating painful Charlie horse like symptoms in both legs. The surgery was happily uneventful mainly because l shopped around for a back surgeon who would perform less invasive surgery. I had to do my own research to discover conventional back surgery where they replace connective tissue with an erector set can lead to incontinence and impotence. Happily Mr. Peter is still with me and l don’t need Depends yet, but with the back surgery all l had to deal with was an incision healing. It’s hardly that simple with the more painful shoulder surgery where l will be in a brace and sleeping in a recliner for six weeks.
Coupled with all this is the fact l am shrinking just like “The Incredible Shrinking Man” sci-fi classic of the fifties. Bad enough l was 5’6” all my life, but in just the last two years l have lost five inches in height. X-rays by a spine specialist showed my vertebrae and discs are collapsing and the cause l realize now of my chronic morning neck and back pain.
For even after my shoulder surgery was scheduled, to be performed by one of the guys who developed the procedure so you can’t get much better than that, l questioned whether it is all worth it. If l will still be facing the neck and back pain everyday for the rest of my life, what’s the point? Yes, l thought of suicide, not tomorrow or next week or next month but sometime in the indeterminate future when it all becomes too much. I even have a plan: park my car in my carport, run a hose from the exhaust pipe of my Honda Element into the house and it will be arrivederci for me and my three aging doggies.
But l also love to fuck with doctors, body mechanics with egos of children or sometimes God, who l dealt with everyday in my thirty some years as a hospital marketing exec. When l told my primary care doc about my suicidal thoughts, he quickly got a psychiatrist to see me in his office. He was afraid l’d do myself in before the surgery and screw the system of all those tens of thousands of dollars of insurance money. So the shrink gives me a script for some pills which l’m testing right now. Having been mild bipolar most of my life, l have always subscribed to the hard core philosophy that you have to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, kick yourself in the ass, smell the coffee and realize no one gives a shit about you but you. And move on.
Which l did.
I jokingly say what l need is a total skeletal transplant. I’d cut a deal with a homeless guy at one of the bus shelters, and in exchange for his skeleton, l’d name the bus shelter he and his cronies congregate each morning in his memory and buy them coffee every morning for as long as l lived.
And if he were six feet, four, I’d throw in donuts.
After boasting about his surgical skills, I was ready to tell my boyishly handsome surgeon who resembles Houdini, the legendary magician, the only way l’d know for sure the operation is a success is if l can reach up and twist my boyfriend’s nips while l suck his cock.
Otherwise l’ll sue him for malpractice.
Now one would think my ex who lives in PA would be down to help me out, but pushing eighty with his own sort of health issues though he’s still pretty mobile, G plead the Fifth.
Thankfully l have a few good friends, my neighbor Hope the first girlfriend in my forty-nine year career as a professional faggot; my forty something lover who is married to another older man younger than me and who twenty years his senior ironically is no longer interested in him sexually – go figure – and a nurse buddy who has generously offered to be with me for the first few days following my surgery, though l’m wondering whether he’s planning to re-enact that s and m flick, Misery, with all the enemas, Foley catheters, and other assorted medical procedures he’s promising.
Oh, there were others but as the date of my surgery loomed closer, their enthusiasm about taking care of me waned and our so-called friendships evaporated faster than a spilt bottle of poppers.
Next stop the OR: I’ll let you know how I made out as soon as I’m nimble enough to do it. In the meantime I’ll be reprising some of my Pulitzer Prize winning blogs from the Past …