I turned 29 on Monday. It’s one year less alive, but still young. I know this, but my body’s unwillingness to cooperate with the day-to-day rigors of existence won’t validate it. I celebrated the occasion by going to the doctor and being reminded I’m still overweight, which I’ve been since I was born (I was 10-plus pounds at birth), and going blind. I also knew this, but the old eyeballs are drying out quicker than I’ve realized.
The poor physician’s assistant, God bless her, made me read the eye chart in the hallway first. With both eyes, I could barely see the third line. I mumbled some shapes — “Uh, three bars, a star and a heart” — that were actually supposed to be letters.
“Try again,” she said.
“Um, holy hell, E, A, M.”
Then we did one eye at a time. I could only read the top line. You know, the one that has two letters the size of saucers.
“F, P,” I said with some sort of pride, but I was embarrassed. “It’s been over a year since I’ve seen the eye doctor.”
“Maybe you should go soon,” she said with sincerity, but I sensed the pity. How does someone so blind even get dressed in the morning, she must have thought. A friend recently suggested Lasik, or laser eye surgery, but that’s terrifying. Laser eye surgery? Seriously? It sounds like a type of torture employed on the Death Star. I’ll stick with wearing magnifying lenses on my face.
Driving at night without glasses has become a public health concern, as I can barely see the front of my hood, let alone pedestrians. Wildlife darting out onto the blacktop? Forget it. Immediate road kill.
Then there’s strolling the sidewalks and walking past people I know.
“I saw you at the post office the other day.”
“Really? Did I have my glasses on?”
“Then I didn’t see you. Sorry.”
My lack of vision has also made me obtuse to any nonverbal communication, especially provocative cues at the bar.
“Dude, she’s been looking at you.”
“I don’t know. She seems into you.”
“Jesus. Are you blind?”
“Just go over there.”
If I do take a third party’s word for it, then I must first apologize for literally not seeing them. By then, the magic and intrigue are gone. The moment’s passed, and I return to my drink no better or worse.
Speaking of drinking, my triglycerides are high, which essentially means my blood is also overweight.
“How often do you drink?” the doctor asks.
“Uh, usually just on the weekends. Friday, Saturday, Sunday … sometimes Thursday. Maybe a Monday here or there.”
“How much do you drink when you do?”
“Well, high triglycerides means too many carbs, and all alcohol, especially beer, is a big one. Practicing moderation is important.”
I know this, too, but I’m terribly impressionable sometimes when it comes to peer pressure. Doc explained that consuming more than two 12-ounce beers per session is considered binge drinking. I then admitted I’m a binge drinker.
Plus, if the triglycerides get too high, pancreatitis is a threat. Thanks to Google, I learned that means the pancreas basically tries to digest itself, which is “very painful” and often requires hospitalization for several days, doc explained.
My liver quivered. I will never touch booze again, my brain said. Putting less alcohol into my body will also lower my uric acid levels, meaning I will have fewer gout bouts.
Lord knows a gout flair up makes a man consider amputation. Every time my feet and ankles swell, I think about that scene from “Saw.” You know, the one the whole franchise is named after, when the guy shackled to a pipe is given a handsaw in order to free himself by, well, you get it. At least my situation is not life or death, just pain relief.
Gout is called the “disease of kings” since it was most associated with overindulgence during medieval times. Can you imagine a fat-footed king gnawing on wild boar, while watching knights joust, guffawing and carrying on among the peasants? Man, times were simpler. Gout was a status symbol back then. Now you’re a sloven. Too much drink. Too much red meat. Too much seafood. Too much too much.
My daydream ended when doc said they’d like to test my blood again in a couple months, a procedure that also makes me nervous and nauseous.
We are all sacks of expiring meat. We become fat and flabby, gaseous and gangrenous, dried out and dead. Sorry if that sounds so somber. It’s not a case of Cotard’s syndrome, just nature. I actually enjoy my life in the deli display case — vanishing vision, expanding waistline and all. Here’s to cutting out those carbs.