Forever young

Last week I went to the doctor’s office for a routine visit. Prior to seeing the doctor, a nurse took my blood pressure and pulse. “Wow,” she said, staring at me in near disbelief.


“Great,” she said. “And your pulse too. I’m surprised!”

“Alright,” I said, becoming uncomfortable with her level of astonishment. “It’s not that amazing. I know I don’t look like I’m in the best shape of my life, but I’m doing okay.”

“I guess,” she said, smiling.

I get this reaction from nurses all the time. They take one look at me and assume from my fire hydrant shape that my blood pressure will be off the charts, when it is usually around 100/80. And my resting heart rate tends to be around 60, which it was last week. Both of these numbers are very good.

Incidents like this make me realize how people’s perceptions of me change as I get older while the perception that I have of myself do not. I still think of myself as a young, athletic man, and though I have a rotator cuff problem and a bad knee, I’ve had the knee trouble since high school and the rotator cuff tore while I was diving for a ball, so it was hardly an issue of age. And while I also would like to lose some more weight (I’ve lost about 25 pounds in the last year but would like to lose another fifteen), I am still able to run 2-3 miles with relative ease, spend an hour or more on the elliptical machine, and play hoops with kids half my age.

In fact, the same day of my appointment, I stopped by the basketball courts near my home and joined a pickup game with some kids of high school and college age. We played two on two for about an hour when four other guys showed up, forcing us to reconstitute the teams. It was quite a scene, a 39-year old white guy playing alongside six young, black guys and a young white guy who carried himself like Eminem.

Captains were chosen, and as the choosing began, the first captain, one of the new arrivals, asked the second captain, a guy who I had been playing with, about me. “What’s up with the old guy?” the kid asked.

“Well, he’s not too fast and he can’t jump, but he knows how to pass and when to shoot, and you can’t move him once he’s under the basket.  And he fouls hard.”

I was still picked last, but I didn’t mind the assessment of my skills, and I managed to hold my own that morning.

Nurse Judgmental can go to hell.