The Old Coot is skin deep

Whenever I’m in the little waiting room, after first doing time in the big waiting room, I’m told, “Just sit here; the doctor will be right with you.” Well, that never happens. You’re going to wait. I don’t sit there like a dummy, as instructed, I get up and check out the room, wondering if they’d miss a pair or two of those latex gloves or any other useful medical items lying around; gauze, bandages and the like. Not the high-ticket items. But I leave the gloves, not worth the embarrassment of getting caught red handed, though they really should let us take what we need for what they charge for a visit. 

Instead of pilfering, I switch to education, study the charts on the wall or those replicas of body parts: the human heart, the knee, hips, finger joints, eyeball, ear canal, tooth structure, skin layers and the like. You can see from my list; I’ve been in the offices of many different specialists over the years. Most old guys have.

It never ceases to amaze me, all the stuff going on inside the human body – hidden by a protective covering of skin. All those complex functions are monitored and controlled by a part of my brain that runs things, while keeping me in the dark. We get a peek inside every once in a while; when the doctor shows us an x-ray, cat scan or MRI image. We’re a gooey collection of tissue, muscles, bones and organs, each with specific duties. Highways of red blood vessels carry food, oxygen, and other substances to where it’s needed, and blue vessels coming back for more.

It’s an interesting exercise to look down at yourself and try to visualize what’s going on under the skin. It looks so calm from the outside. I have a half-size skeleton that’s been with me for decades; I study it whenever my framework gets out of kilter. It helps me understand what might have gone wrong. It came with a red bulging disc between L4 and L5 long before my disc, at that location, put me on the operating table. Irony? Or maybe Voodoo? I also have several anatomy books to help understand issues the doctor explains to me in a foreign language, Latin. I go home, open the book, and figure out what he said. 

If you have friends over 30 and you can’t figure out what to get them for their birthday, give them an anatomy chart that works its way, layer by layer, from the skin to the skeleton. They will love it even more each year as they approach, and then get well into old coot age. 

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