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  • Writer's pictureLois

Last legs? Lessons in self-control and self-reliance.

Last week after 3 days of terrible allergies, late afternoon on Friday, May 13th, 2022 I tested myself only to find out that I had Covid. I'm 76 years old, and everyone I know who has had Covid has taken the ubiquitous anti-viral medication at the first sign of symptoms. All I can say is since the vaccines and booster had not prevented me from contracting Covid in the first place, I decided to see how my own body would fare fighting this battle that has been going on for over two years.

Good luck trying to reach a doctor on a Saturday. Instead, I reached a lovely nurse who asked me all the usual questions… "age, date of birth, medications blah blah"… “Bio identicals..." I said ...that’s what I take as well as herbs, vitamins, homeopathic tinctures, and remedies. The nurse then congratulated me on being 76 and not being on medication. "I am on medication," I replied, "...they're just not the normal kind prescribed by doctors. These are prescribed by homeopaths, herbalists, holistic doctors, and acupuncturists!" I patiently explained. After she promised faithfully to get hold of my doctor I felt relieved but still texted a doctor friend of mine who told me if my symptoms were mild I should just get the anti-viral to keep on hand for the next time (not very encouraging).

After waiting an inordinate amount of time for a call from my superb (she is) doctor, I called the hotline once again. Two hours later, someone got back to me. I told them I wanted to speak with my primary care physician. I was told they would find the attending physician on call, but first, they asked for my "...age, date of birth, medications…blah blah" once again. "76, bio-identicals," I said - again. When I got to the end of my unimpressive list this nurse also congratulated me. "Why are you congratulating me?" I asked - “76 orbs around the sun," she said, simperingly "Isn’t that wonderful?" - I wanted to reach through the receiver and strangle her. Instead, I spoke kindly. “Do you know that in some countries people respect the elderly, age is not an issue, and ageism isn’t the norm? Please understand that you have just insulted me and made me feel as if I am less because I am older.” Well, that was the end of that conversation.

I called back the next day only to get yet another nurse. That was when I realized I might be barking up the wrong tree and it might be best to reach my doctor through the patient portal - the only problem was that there were new rules about reaching your doctor through the portal and I had forgotten how to navigate the new site.

Long story short. Eventually, the anti-viral was duly prescribed, was delivered by a kindly neighbor, and is now sitting in a drawer untouched. Three days after beginning the whole rigmarole, I figured out how to penetrate the damn portal, got through to my doctor’s hilarious nurse practitioner, and was able to set up a telehealth visit with my doctor.

I promised her I would not go dancing, but I did suggest that there should be a mandatory seminar to teach on-call nurses how to deal with 76-year-old patients who are not on a ton of medications, are still standing, and would like to treat Covid without using medicines whose long-term side effects are still unknown. I am sure most nurses I might reach would just shrug and say, ”Well honey, why would you worry about long-term side effects, anyway? You’re 76 so that shouldn’t be an issue."

To all of us who have rotated around the sun a number of times, I say this: Take control of your medicine, your life, your illness, and be patient. If you do not have any underlying conditions (and you don’t die waiting for a callback from your doctor) you will likely survive. And, while you are waiting, don’t feel like the world has passed you by because you are no longer a teenager.

Be proud of your age, even if the person on the other end of the line believes your days are numbered.


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