So, it occurred to me that last week I didn’t really encapsulate everything that bothers me about getting older, particularly since my technological ignorance is hardly a recent development. What I failed to mention was that, ironically, one of my first jobs was as a sales assistant for Currys Electrical, which is a bit like making Britney Spears head of the Bank of England. At the end of my four-week employment (I know, a proud inclusion on my CV) I had sold precisely zero electrical goods. It takes a special kind of sales and product knowledge base to stand in a technological Mecca and convince people that they don’t want to buy anything technological- especially at Christmas.
Anyway I digress. In truth there are much better or rather unfortunate side effects of getting older, especially since I have recently reached the big 4-0. One of the most obvious is injuring yourself. It’s a common misconception that as we get older we are more prone to injury, but this simply isn’t true. What happens is that we injure ourselves just as often but in a much less glamorous way.
I have at last count, received five separate bone breaking injuries in my life and as a twenty or thirty year old I wore those injuries like medals. They show a life lead less ordinary and of adventure and endeavour. I have five titanium pins in my foot, the result of a motorbike accident in Australia. Never mind that my mother could have overtaken me in a golf cart at the speed I was doing: in my mind, and certainly in the mind of others by the time I’ve blatantly embellished the story, I am Barry Sheen, put back together in the style of the three million dollar man; a hero in the making as surgeons sweated through the operation mouthing ‘We can re-build him- the clumsy tit.’
Likewise I sport a slight deformity on the back of my hand, the result of all the bones being broken during a lad’s holiday in Magaluf. What’s that you ask? During a fight perhaps? Or abseiling off some cliffs? Motorbiking again?
No, I got pissed and fell of a mechanical bull. Okay I appreciate it hardly falls into the adventure and endeavour category but what the hell. It was worth the pain, although filling out the accident claim form on my holiday insurance took some creative writing I can tell you.
But now as I pass 40, injury strikes when I’m least expecting it. When I’m least aware. When I’m least awake. In fact it’s whilst I’m asleep. How in Christ’s name I manage to damage myself so substantially whilst unconscious is something I’ve yet to establish. But I have in recent years woken up with injuries more akin to those involved in a serious road traffic accident. I have gone to bed feeling perfectly chipper only to wake up with amongst other things; serious whiplash in my neck: pulled muscles in my back: trapped nerves down my leg. On one memorable occasion my knee almost completely gave way as I walked downstairs for breakfast. It’s gotten to a point I go to bed viewing our thousand pound memory foam mattress like the octagon at the ultimate fighting championships. Short of setting up CCTV in our bedroom there seems no way of knowing what my body gets up to whilst I’m asleep but it appears to be having an awfully good time without me.
All this came to a head two weeks ago when I woke up with possibly the most degrading and it has to be said painful of injuries. I don’t want to be over specific but such an injury is likely to apply to only fifty percent of the population and meant I questioned my wife closely as to whether her threats toward me in the past had got the better of her. She swears not, though I’m beginning to regret not installing that CCTV.
For those of you not aware, testicular torsion (and that includes me until I awoke to a particularly painful demonstration) is a worryingly common phenomenon in men. However like most men, I only visit the Doctor when absolutely necessary, after all other options have been exhausted (principally, complaining to my wife about the pain and being told with little patience ‘Go and see a Doctor then’ to which for some inexplicable reason I turn into the worlds biggest four year old- ‘Don’t wanna see the Doctor!’). Anyway after my dear wife pointed out, via some hastily carried out research on the internet, that testicular torsion if not treated immediately can result in amputation, I was to be found seconds later bounding, somewhat awkwardly, toward the car demanding my wife get me to the hospital pronto.
It has to be said the hospital staff were mercifully professional, but herein lie’s the possible reason most men put off seeing a Doctor. We’re simply not comfortable talking about matters of intimacy. My GP must dread my visits since I treat them like a medical version of the game-show ‘Jeopardy’. All too frequently the conversation go’s like this.
Doctor- ‘What seems to be the problem?’
Me- ‘You tell me, you’re the Doctor.’
Doctor- ‘Mr Curtis, I need to know your symptoms.’
Me- ‘Things that cause a pain in my chest.’
Doctor- ‘I’ll take angina for $500.’
Okay I made the last bit up but you get the point. I think we make it too easy for Doctors anyway. Why should we do their job for them; let them do a bit of medical sleuthing; work for their money. I once suggested to my wife I go see our Vet instead, since at no point has our Springer Spaniel had to perch on the end of the examination table and say ‘You know what Doc, I’m getting terrible water retention round my paws, can you prescribe something?’ Needless to say like most of my suggestions it was met with a look of complete distain and grudgingly I picked the phone up to call the Doctor instead.
As a follow up I was asked to attend the clinic for an Ultrasound scan two weeks later. If like me you’ve confused an MRI scan with an Ultrasound let me set you straight. An MRI scan is a pain free and relatively mundane procedure whereby you are slid into a huge metal tube, which over a half hour period produces a detailed 3D image of your insides.
An Ultrasound is the one employed on pregnant women using a sort of hand held microphone to produce a grainy image on a TV monitor of the developing foetus. Having an Ultrasound of a woman’s baby bump is a beautiful, life affirming experience to be savoured and treasured for many years to come.
Having an Ultrasound of your bollocks is not.
Firstly like a prostate exam (I’ve not had that yet, but now I’ve passed 40 I know it’s coming- can’t wait) the whole experience is pretty degrading. Even though you know it’s necessary, you’re loath to do as you’re told and the Doctors instruction are prone to misunderstanding making the atmosphere even more uncomfortable-
Doctor- ‘Just drop your jeans and lie down on the couch Mr Curtis- no, your boxers as well Mr Curtis.’
Doctor- ‘Now I need you to grab yourself.’
Me- ‘Beg pardon?’
Doctor- ‘Grab yourself (miming action) here.’
Me- (moment for penny to drop) ‘Ah, I see.’
Doctor- ‘And pull up toward your chest.’
Me- ‘My ch-? I’m not Mr Fantastic!’
Doctor- ‘Toward your chest Mr Curtis not to it.’
You see what I mean? You then look across at the monitor to see a grainy image that I would imagine is very different to the one pregnant women see. It was at this point I noticed that the door to examination room had no lock and that anyone could walk in to see me pulling this grotesque pose. The thought then occurred to me that this was all part of an extreme adult version of ‘Punk’d’ and that any second someone would burst in with a video camera to shame me for ever.
Mercifully for all concerned that never happened and I was informed all was clear. And on that life affirming point I’ll sign off. I hope you enjoyed this weeks blog, especially since my recollections have forced me to write it with my legs crossed, and providing I don’t wake up with broken wrists next week I’ll have another written soon.