Close To the Bone

Well, in the race to the end, failing eyesight has been overtaken by lack of oxygen. Now, after coughing up an obscene amount of money, I have a magical unit I can sling over my shoulder and manufacture oxygen out of thin air, even on battery power.

I have this other digital device that reads my oxygen levels through my index finger. If I’m sitting quietly, like reading a tedious Victorian novel, I measure in the high 80s (that’s a percentage of oxygen concentration, I guess) but if I get up, move around, go to the bathroom, my oxygen drops to the 70s. The physician has clued me that low oxygen starves the brain even if I’m not rolling on the floor panicking for breath (ROTFPFB). This I definitely don’t need so by blowing a few units of oxygen through a cannula, I raise my level to a healthy mid- to high-90s.

I guess the new oxygen concentrator is more efficient than my aging lungs.

Since I might soon find myself on full life-support systems, or worse, I’m probably going to get more serious about those big fat books on my bucket list. Although I mused about a magical machine that would concentrate my reading, I tragically only revived my fear and disgust for Reader’s Digest. Note that my response is tied to my thrice-a-week trips to the antiseptic allergy clinic where I encountered Reader’s Digest, big sharp needles, the smell of alcohol, and the squish of nurses’ shoes. Also, it’s good form to avoid edited literature (read all of Moby Dick!).

As a side note, sometime around 1955, the allergy clinic asked my father if he would authorize an early injection of the Salk vaccine to fight-off polio. He, of course being a real man who was concerned for the safety of his son, signed me up for the trial. I remember two things: that needle was huge (I think the early injections were prescribed close to the bone) and it really really hurt. Oh yes, I didn’t get polio even though I occasionally ran through the sprinkler of a hot summer day.

Remember polio? No? Thank vaccines for that.

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