Shortly after the American Constitution became the law of our land, Benjamin Franklin noted that: “Our new Constitution is now established, everything seems to promise it will be durable; but, in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.”
For much of our lives, taxes are something we must live with and death is something we flirt with but not consider until the later years roll around.
Death tried to take me almost 9 hours years when I laid my motorcycle down to try to avoid hitting a black steer on a dark night on U.S. 221 near the bottom of Bent Mountain in Roanoke County. The grim reaper waited over my bed in intensive care at Carilion-Roanoke Memorial Hospital but went away empty-handed.
That wasn’t the only time that I escaped from that creepy, hooded demon with a scythe. My wife says I’m somewhere above 20 of my nine lives.
Now, death hovers too often hovers behind a health official or technician scans my brain or other parts of my body or looks at a biopsy or blood test. Not all the scars on my out-of-shape body came from injuries. Others mark places where a surgeon cut out something in my body that was diseased and life threatening.
At age 72, I’m too often amazed that the heart keeps on pumping after all these years or the other organs of the body keep functioning. Some are tired, just like me.
When the doc orders a new test, x-ray, scan, MRI or procedure, I ask: “What’s wrong?”
“Oh, probably nothing,” he usually says. “I just want to check to make sure everything is OK.”
Over the last 10 years, I’ve had more of those “just make sure tests” than I ever seemed to need during the 60 years that preceded.
Sometimes, they find something. Like five pieces of skin cancer removed in 2018 and the following year. Other times, they find a condition that says it’s time to change an over-the-counter pain medication that works. That means trying other pain of formulas that don’t cause bad readings on blood or urine tests.
The doctor often says “you’re in pretty good shape, given your age.”
“Given your age?” I hear that a lot nowadays.
But age and injuries have brought on short-term memory loss, vision problems in my right eye (the one “dislodged” in the motorcycle crash that now sits in a replacement eye socket). My walk is now more of a limping gait because of a badly-broken leg and I’ve lost some of my hearing.
For the past two months, I’ve been scanned, x-rayed, MRI’d, probed and prodded in multiple tests that can’t find why my lower legs experience almost-frequent pain and some swelling. They’ve ruled out diabetes, heart-disease, clogged veins or arteries, blood circulations and other potential problems.
Another round of tests begin early Wednesday mornings. Will they find the problems? Unknown at this time.
What we do know is that, as Franklin said, death is something that all of us face.
When? Perhaps it is better to not know.