Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)


Medically speaking, 2008 was a year to forget

Don't you just hate it when you ask somebody how they are and they actually tell you? In detail? And show you incisions?

Well, I won't do that, but I will regale you with the story of the year I turned 76, when the glass was way less than half full. I don't want to do 76 again.

Last year I fell down a lot. I was on a walker awhile. I had doctors' visits and tests and CAT scans and colonoscopies and all that kind of fun. I was forced to go to the emergency room because a famous blood thinner made my blood too thin. I was attached to a catheter at the time. Are you thinking "poor thing" yet?

There's more.

They thought maybe there was something wrong with my stomach. It was bigger than usual, so I was sent to a gastroenterologist, a guy who knows all about big stomachs — or was supposed to. He took one look and said, "You have an abdominal hernia."

I said, "Oh, no!"

He said, "We don't do anything for it. We don't operate. You don't have to worry about it unless you plan to do male modeling."

That was supposed to be funny. Ha-ha.

I found out, several tests later, it wasn't a hernia.

They had me lying flat and keeping very still in the middle of CAT scan machines. They sent me to a facility where they knocked me out and took a look at my insides to see if they were still there, and in what order. They found a stomach bacteria that they treated with pills that my pharmacist told me were contrary to the regular stuff I was already taking. Oh, happy day!

Oh, I've forgotten some of this because they told me I was incoherent. I didn't quite get it. Who am I and why am I here?

Tests then showed I was anemic — so anemic I could barely function. I was finally sent to an anemia doctor who also happened to be a cancer specialist. Literally, he took one look at me and said that was no hernia. It was a kidney backup. It was the beginning of renal failure. It had to be drained. A urologist had to attach me to a catheter day and night and drain all that fluid away. And I had to start a round of injections to make my hemoglobin pick up.

To put it succinctly, the anemia/cancer specialist saved my life so one day I could sit here, coherently, and tell you all about it. Ain't this a wonderful world?

I forgot about the blood transfusions. They're not hard on you but they're time-consuming. You just lie there while they slowly, slowly, slowly drip new blood into your body.

By the way, because I ended up at a cancer center didn't necessarily mean I had cancer. I didn't. I was talking to a woman while waiting to get my next appointment lined up and I told her some of my story. And she said, "You had no chemo?"

Well, no, because I didn't have cancer.

I still go there for tests every three months, and to see the doctor every six months. So far, each time I'm tested, my results are better and better.

And I helped myself by adding protein drinks and nutrition bars to my diet, and trying to get at least 70 grams of protein daily. That's a lot of Michael Phelps eating!

I can't tap-dance now but, then again, I couldn't tap-dance when I was 75. Today, at 77, I feel like a little soft shoe might just be the thing.

But, enough about me. How are you?

New Port Richey resident Jim Aylward was formerly a nationally syndicated columnist and radio host in New York City. Write him in care of LifeTimes, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

Medically speaking, 2008 was a year to forget 01/26/09 [Last modified: Monday, January 26, 2009 9:55am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Winter Haven police investigating armed robbery at Dollar General


    WINTER HAVEN — Police are investigating an armed robbery Friday night of a Dollar General store on W Lake Ruby Drive.

  2. Rowdies settle for draw at home


    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  3. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays scored that many in a single game during their two-plus week numbing stretch of offensive impotency, and in a home game in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  4. 'Free speech rally' cut short after massive counterprotest


    BOSTON — Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned "free speech rally" a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.

    Thousands of people march against a “free speech rally” planned Saturday in Boston. About 40,000 people were in attendance.
  5. Police pull unconscious New Port Richey man from SUV in Cotee River


    NEW PORT RICHEY — Police rescued an unconscious driver whose sport utility vehicle plunged into the Cotee River on Saturday.