When I turned fifty, my warranty ran out. I felt like a car that slowly, inextricably, begins to wear out from driving too hard, driving to many miles, and driving for too long. 50,000 miles and 50 years.

First, the hubcaps fall off, then the mysteries of the engine – which have eluded me for years – begin to do whatever engines do when they slowly fall apart. Then brakes go bad, timing goes off (I assume cars still have rotors which haven’t been replaced by electronic devises), thermostats get stuck, lights go dim, and my car becomes fitted with aftermarket parts.

I become on a first name basis with my mechanic. I think I have paid for his new boat.

I, too, am chock-full of aftermarket parts. I have titanium fake hips that replaced painful old ones (I now set off alarms at airports making me an assumed terrorist), my cataracts were fixed by a medical doctor by putting in shiny new lenses, a stent was slid into place in my aorta, I have reading glasses permanently affixed to my face, and a series of other bits and pieces have been installed.

Before I had my cataracts fixed, traffic lights at night were always surrounded by halos, which reminded me of the sixties, only without drugs.

My more senior pals seem to enjoy complaining about their health. They have to pee every 41 minutes. They have had to give up riding motorcycles because of bad senses of balance, and they have become respectful of the marvels of pharmacology which seems to keep their sex lives going.

Sometimes they pretend they are 19 again.

This is really nothing to complain about. We live longer lives with better quality. The medical sciences have provided us with incredible insights and devices. Pharmacology has made awesome advances. And it seems every day I read new studies about how to keep me alive, moving, and thinking clearly.

But still...

Walking has replaced jogging, lifting weights used to tear muscles down before my body rebuilt them. Now I think my muscles just get torn down. My butt disappeared. I don’t know where it went. I just know my wife says I sag like a teenager.

When I rise from the sofa I sound like my grandfather.

It seems all my medical doctors appear to me to be adolescents. And I have so many of them they could form a tribe. I have a General Practitioner, Gastroenterologist, Cardiologist, Oncologist, Dermatologist, Urologist, Psychiatrist, Surgeon, Pulmonologist and Ophthalmologist. Then there’s the Dentist, and Oral Surgeon, the Orthopedist I used to see, and the Podiatrist I might see.

Maybe they are a tribe because to make sure they talk to each other they post everything on a computer to which I have access. Trouble is, I forgot my password, can’t follow the “intuitive” links I’m supposed to just know how to click on, and I get test results but no explanations, so I can’t understand a word on the medical tribal computer.

Each doctor has their fancy machines and devices. MRIs, CTs, blood pressure devices, heart monitors, lung capacity machines, X-Ray cameras, surgery tools, and hundreds of other contraptions with names I don’t know.


I wish they would watch Star Trek and come up with a Tricorder. One device for all purposes. Dammit, Jim, I’m a writer not a doctor.

I have so many non-native parts, that sometimes I think I am slowly becoming a Cyborg soon to be recruited by the Borg. I don’t think AARP is a Borg member attempting to take over the world.

But that would be a hell of a story.

Mike Bowler

Mike Bowler

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