On Thursday morning, I began the preparations for my upcoming 50th birthday. The first order of business was a guarantee that I would make it through the next few weeks to reach the milestone. There are no guarantees, of course, but a clean bill of health from a qualified physician would at least ease any irrational anxiety about my odds. Since I am not much of a gambling man, I needed some extra reassurance before planning any celebration. I needed my pre-50 physical.
Just making the appointment was a step towards maturity since a younger man would have procrastinated indefinitely. Getting my car oil changed every 3,000 miles seems prudent. Getting my pre-50 physical seemed like nothing more than a pain in the…let me rephrase. It was not something I was looking forward to.
The good doctor got right up under my hood (so to speak), and it looks like I am cleared for another 50,000 miles. Some wear and tear, some chipped paint, a few squeaks, but all in all, it was a successful visit. I probably won’t be back to see him until something breaks completely, or until I require a full system flush – whichever comes first.
My initial prognosis was positive (blood work still pending). My sitting pulse was at the world class athlete’s pace of 46, which coincidentally might also be my Wii Fit age. Since it is typically a net negative that things slow down metabolically as we age, it’s nice to know that a slower pulse is a good sign. As Father Time’s clock speeds up, I need to employ the Dean Smith 4 corners stall as a counterbalance. A slower heart rate should extend the game, although I am aware that my ultimate competitor, The Grim Reaper, is an impressive 25,000,000,000,000 – 1. Not a bad winning percentage.
The nurse who took the reading asked if I worked out. That was almost as much fun as being asked for ID when purchasing a six pack of beer, something that happens less and less each year. It is infinitely better than being asked, “Is there any blood in your stool?” Once you get that question, the pride in the healthy pulse rate goes right down the toilet (so to speak), and you’re one step closer to pureed meatloaf and strained succotash for Sunday dinner. That question also raises the sitting pulse rate to the point where it sounds much like the percussion intro to Van Halen’s Hot for Teacher. Not healthy.
The good doctor asked plenty of other emasculating and humbling questions about my condition, habits, and general dysfunctions. He probed about my sleep patterns, my frequency of urination, and the appearance of any new bumps, lumps or skin tags. There were a few more inquiries from the doctor that I’ll spare my loyal readership, lest you think that you may ask me for my answer. Not asking will save me from invoking my 5th Amendment right against self-humiliation. Thank you, Founding Fathers!
I took the good health diagnosis as a sign that I was capable of chasing down kids half my age for several hours, so I spent Friday night playing inline hockey against kids born in the 1990s. I participated in the final Iron Man tournament at my rink.
Here were the rules:
· Start at 9 PM.
· Guaranteed minimum 4 games plus playoffs.
· Each team has 4 skaters, 1 goalie, no substitutions.
· Each game is 12 minutes running time.
· Round robin format, then single elimination playoffs.
Since I was medically cleared to be an athletic stud within 36 hours of the tournament’s first face off, I must blame the officiating for our poor showing Friday evening/Saturday morning. It couldn’t have been that the competition was younger, faster, stronger, smarter and “did I say younger already?” than me. Not possible. Once we lost in our first round playoff game at 2:30 AM**, I was thrilled to lose and go home. But I survived.
On Sunday night game, I repeated the Iron Man feat, but not by choice. My regular team suited up without any bench players, so we Chosen 4 had to skate the entire 44 minute game. No substitutes and only a 60 second intermission, enough time for a drink of water. Thanks to my resting pulse of 46 and the will to not let those young punks show me up, I survived.
On top of all of this sports excitement, I lost an hour this weekend. I have no idea where it went, but hopefully will gain that hour back at the end of my road by staying in shape. It was a long (albeit shorter) weekend, but I survived.
I am full of youthful arrogance that I will continue to thrive and remain indestructible. The doctor thinks so, those punks on the other teams think so now (I hope), and the Wii Fit thinks so. I am not a gambling man, but I am liking my odds that I’ll make it until the 3rd of next month. The betting window is closed after that.
That arrogance could fade over the next couple of years of course. I am a little more tired on this Monday than usual. I am craving a nap. I sure need it. As I sleep and recover, however, I am keenly aware that rust never sleeps. That may be true, but rust doesn’t have a sitting pulse rate of 46. So there.
** - I would have been out of the rink and on my way home by 2:15 AM, but Pat screwed up the scheduling. There you go, Pat.