Lou dresses up for treatment at the VA hospital

For the 17th time I was at the Wade Park VA Medical Center today for yet another injection of medicine in my right eye to keep my age-related macular degeneration (the wet variety) from worsening. As usual, I wore my black baseball cap with an embroidered patch on the front indicating I am a Vietnam veteran of the U.S. Army’s First Infantry Division. When I arrived at the clinic, I noticed a large whiteboard near the check-in desk with a greeting printed in LARGE letters of course–it is the eye clinic, after all. It said, “Welcome!! We are happy to see you.” I mentioned to a couple of the doctors that the pun was not lost on me.
     First there was a vision test of both eyes. No red flags. Vision was essentially unchanged since my last injection eight weeks ago or so. Nothing to worry about. Around 20 minutes later, with my pupils dilated, Myra, a technician in the eye clinic, took photos of the retinas in both eyes. She forwarded the images to the doctor who tested my vision. I told Myra I had missed her during my two previous visits. She had been on a cruise with her husband the first time I missed her, and the second time I missed her, they were on a brief trip to Nashville. She said they took the trips because her husband had recently retired from his job at Summit Racing, which is based in Akron, although he worked from home.
 Myra noticed my birthdate on her computer screen and said, “You don’t look like you’re 81.”
     I said, “I think I inherited my mom’s ‘health gene’. She lived a few months past her 100th birthday and did not even need a wheelchair to get from her bedroom to the bathroom, using a walker.” (Coincidentally, Mom’s maiden name was Walker.) (Other factors I didn’t mention to Myra are my plant-based diet, exercise regimen, being a non-smoker and drinking alcohol EXTREMELY rarely.)
     While waiting to meet with the doctor who tested my vision, a veteran walked up to me and mentioned he also served with the First Infantry Division in Vietnam–coincidentally during the same time frame–July 1967 to July 1968. He told me he was a combat medic and I said, “Tough gig. The only blood I saw was my own if I nicked myself shaving. But I lost a lieutenant during the Tet Offensive three days after his 23rd birthday. His whole life blown away. We went to Vietnam to kill communists and now Vietnam, a communist country, is our ally against China. All those lives wasted.” I told the veteran I was drafted, and he said he was too, then I said, “Ya gotta do whatcha gotta do.” He nodded in agreement.
     Whenever I go to the Wade Park VA Medical Center, I feel grateful not only for the excellent care I receive but also grateful for my relatively good health. For example, while waiting between appointments today, when one veteran’s name was called for his appointment, I noticed when he got up from his chair, both of his lower legs were missing. He walked on prosthetic lower legs. Another veteran in a motorized wheelchair was missing his lower right leg, but had no prosthetic. Other veterans were using walkers or canes to move. One man’s eyesight was so bad he was using a red and white cane while he walked. So, I am VERY lucky, despite my right hip joint reminding me for the past few days that it is 81 years old. (The soreness is gradually abating.)
     On a lighter note, the waiting area between various appointments has an HD TV on the wall locked on the ION channel. I said to one of the veterans, “Can you change that to the Playboy channel?” The quick-witted vet said, “I can, but whenever I do that, I get hollered at.” I smiled and said, “I don’t want you to have to do pushups.”

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