Health report, from head to toe

Golden Oreos

headtotoeI haven’t done a full-scale health report in a while. Actually, I’ve been impressed how Arthur, for instance, here and here and here, has been quite open about his health challenges. So from head to toe, me.

Head (inside): I briefly saw a shrink online in 2021. Part of it was technological, specifically that I was supposed to use my old phone, and it didn’t work to their office’s technological needs. In any case, I was put off by the process. Then the personal connection with the therapist just didn’t happen. Maybe I’ll try with someone else this year.

Skin: As noted, I have vitiligo. I had been getting an annual full-body skin exam for three years running. The next appointment was scheduled for June 2020, but of course, did not happen. I had one scheduled for January 2022, but then got an appointment at the very end of 2021. Except for my feet (see below), A-OK.

Eyes: my vision is such that I need a good amount of light to see some objects. For instance, if the remote control, which is black, were sitting on the dark brown cabinet in the underlit living room, I’d have a difficult time seeing it. If I were driving, I’d probably not do so at night. I’ll likely have cataract surgery in 2023.

Nose: occasionally runny, but the allergies are mostly under control.

Teeth: Cavity in the lower left part of my mouth. It probably would have been caught earlier if not for COVID.

The heart of the matter

Heart: As I’ve noted, I may have a congenital bicuspid aortic valve. At some point in the next year or two or five, I’ll need surgery. Meanwhile, I’ve taken my blood pressure almost every day for nearly two years. It’s amazingly consistent, for the most part.

Body: Too much of it. I’ve been flirting with diabetes and hit the magic threshold. Now I’m seeing a nutritionist. My levels have clicked back down to pre-diabetes levels, but naturally, I still have to be vigilant.

One very bizarre thing I’ve discovered recently is that, when I’m grocery shopping, my desire for certain snack foods is driven by price. I can walk by those Golden Oreos, which I love, when the package is $5 or more. But when they were on sale for $3 in December, I was sorely tempted, especially since my wife and daughter like them as well. But no. And I actually had my hand on a packet of bakery-quality apple turnovers. A four-pack, two for only $5. No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Knee: Specifically, the left knee I tore the meniscus in 1994, and it’s hurt pretty much since. I wore the knee brace back when I played racquetball, and I put it on now when I know I’m going to be walking a distance. If I’m walking on an uneven surface – lawns are particularly treacherous – I use the walking stick someone made for me.


Feet: I was going to say that my feet are my Achilles’ heel but decided against it. Back in Binghamton, when I was 12, a bunch of us walked to see our 6th-grade teacher, Mr. Peca, who lived near the airport, about 10 miles each way. By the return trip, I had ruined the shoes with my pigeon-toedness. I got frostbite in both feet when I was 16.

Wearing hard-soled shoes has been an agony for decades. That’s why I almost always wore sneakers. I made the tactical error of wearing a  pair of shoes, new ones at that, when I was on JEOPARDY in 1998! By the end of the second game, I was pretty miserable. This is why I believe in function over form.

For the last year or more, I have had neuropathy in my feet, especially the left one. For a time, I was so miserable – they felt as though they were burning from the inside – I was literally in tears. Since I’ve been taking Gabapentin, the misery has stopped, but they still as though someone has bound them. I COULD take more medicine, but I am loath to do so.

Only this fall, I got orthotic inserts for my shoes. This required getting better shoes, which I got at an SAS shoe store in the area. GOOD service, BTW. (And not a paid endorsement.)

I tend not to write this stuff often, less out of a sense of privacy and more about not wanting to bore myself, let alone y’all.

Bad feet

During the rehearsal, I was wearing my red Chuck Taylor sneakers, but for the actual games, I yielded to convention and wore this hard-soled, nicely polished black shoes I was convinced to buy shortly before.

When people ask about one’s best physical feature, I have no idea what mine is. But I surely know my worst ones: my feet. They have always troubled me.

When I was in 7th grade, a bunch of my classmates and I walked to visit our 6th-grade teacher, Mr. Peca, at his home near the airport outside Binghamton, NY. The trip was nearly ten miles (16 km) each way. By the time I got home, my shoes were ruined because my heel was worn down at a 30-degree angle.

I was 15 or 16 when I got mild frostbite on my feet while caroling. By mild, I mean I cried only a little when they thawed out.

I’ve gotten shoes that supposedly give better support, but all they do is hurt my feet, and eventually, my back.

Ultimately, my solution has been to wear sneakers as much as possible. Even at work, I wear some brand called Rockport, which is a quasi-dressy black sneaker, essentially.

I remember when I went on JEOPARDY! in 1998. During the rehearsal, I was wearing my red Chuck Taylor sneakers, but for the actual games, I yielded to convention and wore these hard-soled, nicely polished black shoes I was convinced to buy shortly before. To this day, I thought wearing them was detrimental to my play, standing there for thirty minutes at a time, and while I won the first game, my concentration was somewhat diminished for the second. (Which is taking away nothing from my worthy competitors.)

We went to visit my cousin for Thanksgiving and then went into the City (that’s New York City) and spent time with my niece, her husband, and their friends. I didn’t wear my Chucks because I feared my feet would get cold, wet, and possibly frostbitten, based on the forecast. The only other thing I had to wear were these work boots, hard-soled things. We walked all over Manhattan, and I was miserable, in constant pain, including a blister that developed on the side of my left foot.

The next day, I wore my wife’s sneakers, which were tight, but a whole lot more comfortable than the work boots to walk in. Hey, I’m not proud.

When we got home, I dug out this coupon from L.L. Bean I had had since March 2013. I had bought soft-soled boots from them in March 1999 at the store in Maine, but the sole started separating from the heel, and they were not fixable. The coupon was for the full purchase price, though, of course, the ones I bought in December 2013 were WAY more expensive. But they are warm, and, as important, comfortable to walk in for distances.

That same week, The Wife got me a “better” pair of sneakers, one with greater support. I hate spending money on them, because they don’t seem to last much longer than my canvas Chuck Taylors, but we shall see.

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