Monday, November 16, 2009

An Old Man's List Of Ailments

Picture if you will an old man in his 70th year. He is self-testing, with the appropriate ministry advice, to see if his sore throat and wobblies are a sign of swine flu.

It seems they are not, because the temperature is not sufficiently elevated. This is good, because he does not want to affect the people he has to meet today and tomorrow. That is, the health professionals he has to meet today and tomorrow in connection with his other ailments.

Tomorrow requires a trip to Toulouse for the remaining test on his eyes, before returning to the first hospital in two weeks time, in preparation for the operations. One of the things he has discovered is that if he has the retina operation in the near future, January's trip to New Zealand will be off. Why? Because apparently they put a gas bubble in the eye and if you fly in a pressurised cabin, the bubble explodes and blindness ensues. That leaves two cataracts to be dealt with.

At the lower end of his body, the knee is to be x-rayed this morning, after weeks of pain. The x-ray shows that the bones are in fine condition, with no sign of wear or arthritis. This is excellent news, but when the old man returns to the local doctor this afternoon, there is a certain amound of bafflement about what to do next.

The muscles, tendons and ligaments around the knee are very complex indeed. One of them needs to be stretched, but which one? The old man will opt for the "old towel pulling up the toes" trick. It has worked before, in similar circumstances.

May I remind you that this decrepit figure, with this list of ailments, is the one who will set out, in less than six months time, to walk 2,000 kms?

I am indebted to Vincent van Gogh for providing the splendid illustration.

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