55 and Alive

November 18, 2010 | By | 4 Replies More

A couple of years ago I became aware I was approaching 55 when all the AARP ads started arriving in the mail. If the US wants to find Osama bin Laden, tell the AARP he’s 55 and has diabetes and they’ll get a piece of mail to him at whatever address within a week! So, on December 6, 2010, I will be 55.

I met with some of the old crowd for lunch and then for the Rams’ football game last week where we bet on what new way the Rams would invent to lose in the last three minutes to break our hearts; no one picked a bad pass interference call. Most of my friends married much earlier that I. My friends talked about their kids in and out of college, their grandkids (yikes!) and ceaselessly gave me grief for having a 12 and 9 year old at home. We talked about business, the economy and stupid things we did when we were young that we never told our wives or kids about for fear of fury or fatal repetition after our own undeserved good fortune.

We had brief discussions of politics but, my friends have nearly all lost their minds to Faux News, vote Republican against their own and their kids and grandkids’ economic interests and don’t want to stop drinking the Kool Aid. I referred them to facts, posts at this blog and other reality based content but, to no avail. Really good chicken wings, decent ravioli and continued good company and wait service mellowed us all until we left with promises to meet again soon.

I will now qualify for the “senior discount” at AMC Theaters where I see most of the movies I watch. Apparently, there’s a “senior coffee” at McDonald’s but, I’ve never drank coffee. Maybe others are aware of benefits I may now have and will let me know!

Ooooh, the Pain!

My dad had white hair at 55. My hair is still blonde, no gray. My dad had 10 children, I have two. I have noticed that I am shorter than before, I don’t know if that’s age or the surgeries on my groin, ankle and neck that have somehow shortened my stature.

Oh, and there’s more physical pain. I know that’s from the car accident, neck surgery, slip and fall, the ankle surgery and a botched hernia surgery.

I was in what I thought was a minor fender bender in May of 2008. I saw a chiropractor friend of mine but, didn’t get relief for pain and restricted movement and he had told me that I needed more imaging to address issues in my neck. I went to my internist and got a referral for PT but, no help with pain and movement. I didn’t get the imaging done right away so I quit PT until we did that. The CT scan showed abnormalities in my cervical spine (neck) and these were serious enough for me to be referred to a neck and spine specialist at the Center for Advanced Medicine at BJC Hospitals. I eventually had two vertebrae fused and a disc removed. Now I have a scar on my neck, less pain, some better movement but, continuous pain. I will celebrate my birthday by going to the doctor’s office for my follow-up to my physical from last month when I suddenly developed a Vitamin D deficiency. I got a postcard in the mail and set up an appointment with a physical therapist because I had the same neck surgery as my friend Erich Vieth.

I had injured my ankle on the way to court. As I walked with my plaintiff client to the City of St. Louis courthouse, I stepped on an uneven piece of sidewalk, slipped, fell and broke my leg, ankle, tore my ligaments and tore my tendons in my right ankle. I know all of these happened because I later was treated for and had surgery to repair the damage. The surgery repaired the damage but, my ankle is weak, frequently hurts and clicks when I walk up stairs. Oh, I got to the courthouse, finished the trial, (in a soft cast up to my upper thigh) after spending the night in the ER at Missouri Baptist Hospital, and the jury entered a verdict for the other side.

I also had “The Interesting Case of the Vanishing Hernia.” I had a very bad case of the flu in 1999; I was hospitalized at “one of the top hospitals in the country” and took six bags of IV fluids. As my body explosively rid itself of its contents at both ends, I had developed a serious sharp pain in my right groin. The pain was familiar to me, I had the same symptoms twice before and saw surgeons twice before and twice before I was told my problem wasn’t a classical hernia but a situation where some “adipose tissue” (read-fat) had extruded through an abnormally large part of my physiology. I had twice before, on the advice of my doctors, successfully managed the problem with diet and exercise.

At the hospital a surgeon told me that he knew one of the doctors which had told me “no hernia” before but, that they were “both wrong.” I was given a stark scenario where I could suffer the future of an “incarceration and lose a foot or two of intestine” if I didn’t have hernia surgery. I scheduled the hernia surgery for two months later. I woke up three times on the OR table. Someone was cut during my apparent thrashing about and my wife had to give permission to allow me to be tested for HIV or whatever (this consent form was never turned over to me after I requested the medical records), and lo and behold…NO HERNIA! It was some “adipose tissue” (read-fat) which had extruded through an abnormally large part of my physiology! I was sewn up, carted off to recovery and left in pain. The next day, I went back to the flu hospital via ambulance where they gave me morphine or Demerol to kill the pain but, it didn’t work. I left their “care” as quickly as I could!

The pain continues until this day and will continue until I die. It’s called “chronic neuropathy.” Without the medico jargon it means it feels as though someone has hit me in my crotch 24/7/365.25 since July 22, 1999. My groin pain averages about a 2 or 3 on a scale of 10 and goes as high as an 8 when a kid or cat or anything hits me there and the extra pain can last for days.

I am highly annoyed with the fact my injuries and pains are not because of my own stupidity. “Stupid me” is a condition I can live with and one which I attempt to confine to special, extremely limited circumstances which seem always to involve my family and more particularly my wife (blessed be her name!).

On Friday, November 19, 2010, I start a new course of treatment with the goals of alleviating pain, increasing movement and reducing my weight. I’m gonna beat those rotten kids to the bus stop, soon! Right now, I can only beat them down the hill if I drive, and “that’s not fair!” says my son (rightly). To make up for one recent win, I had to lose another 1,000 Lego battles to my son. It seems that “little boy rules” apply here and daddy always gets immediately wiped out to the last man, animal or vehicle! My daughter is basically embarrassed by my existence except when she wants me to do something for her. I am told by my friends this won’t get much better for me until after college but that her mother, my wife, will have it worse than I.

Hey, it hurts, but life sure beats the heck out of the alternative. There are others far more worse off than me. I have my family, good friends, work that is mostly satisfying and comfortable surroundings. I am thankful for all I have as I turn 55.


Category: Health

About the Author ()

imothy E. Hogan is a trial attorney, a husband, a father of two awesome children and a practicing Roman Catholic in St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Hogan has done legal and political work in Jefferson City, Missouri for partisan and non-partisan social change, environmental and consumer protection groups. Mr. Hogan has also worked for consumer advocate Ralph Nader in Washington, DC and the members of the trial bar in the State of New York. Mr. Hogan’s current interests involve remaining a full time solo practitioner pioneer on the frontiers of justice in America, a good husband and a good father to his awesome children.

Comments (4)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Tim: Glad to hear that you're keeping that second foot out of the grave, at least so far. Your writing reminds me of my elderly grandfather, who I visited in a nursing home 2003. I asked him how he was doing. He said, "Almost every joint aches. I can't stand up very well at all. I don't sleep much. I get dizzy spells. I'm not doing badly for a man who is 95 years old."

    We do share several unbreakable bonds, including the fact that we went to the same high school (this is somehow a big deal here in St. Louis), we had the same neck surgery, and we are about the same age. We are on the same treadmill, moving on toward the end of life. It's at the end of that treadmill that I'll wave goodbye as you head toward those pearly gates to determine whether you get to sit on one of those big comfy clouds, or whether you will go to hell where you might get to meet Anne Frank. http://dangerousintersection.org/2010/11/17/did-a… At my death, it'll be like a big light switch being flipped off, and then, for me, it will be like it was before I was born. Sweet peaceful nothingness. No alarm clocks. No bills. No Tea Party. Sometimes, when I drive past a cemetery I utter, "Lucky bastards!" I'm joking to myself, of course. But I'm aware that it might not be as easy as the first 55 years, but I'm eager to see where it all leads.

    BTW, Tim. You look pretty good for a 55 year old guy based on your author photo. Or is that an older photo? When the heck was that taken?

  2. Tim Hogan says:

    Vieth, you dog! YOU put that photo up when you got tired of my no getting you a new one; it's my senior high school yearbook picture.

  3. Ben says:

    I just turned 35.

    Noticed that you did not mention religion in your post. Congratulations!

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