142) Jack’s 60th

July 3, 2007

El Milagro:
I arrive a few minutes after 2:30; an early time Ron the Nurse has given me since I am taking the day off in honor of my birthday. Jennifer the Dietician says, “Aren’t you early?” and I report that it’s my birthday, and she replies, “Really? 55 or so?” and continues by asking about the party at Lake Marble Falls, which I explain has been cancelled due to flotsam and bacteria in the water. I move to my favorite chair in the corner and Gladys cannulates me and wishes me a happy birthday. I put new batteries in my radio and tune in to KUT and start my new birthday book: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, by Christopher Moore.

About an hour into my dialysis I begin to feel tingly in my lips. It’s the kind of feeling you get when your extremities are asleep and prickly. I ignore it for awhile but it spreads to my brain and fingers and then, of course, I begin worrying about it. I stretch to see my last BP on the machine and it reads 104/58. Aha! My BP is so low it’s making me tingly. I lay low, trying to imagine my BP rising. The tingles are spreading over my entire head and I would be okay with that feeling, but I am also starting to feel clammy, faint, and slightly nauseous too. I don’t like the idea of calling someone over and complaining about this cause I don’t want them to “take me off” (stopping the dialysis) or lengthen my time today. I close my eyes, focus on my breath, and visualize my blood pulsing harder in my veins.

Finally I call Herman the Nurse over and tell him I think my BP is too low. He pushes the BP button and waits the few minutes it takes the machine to check my BP. Now its 94/50 and he asks if I’m ever hypotensive and I explain my recent increase in my BP meds cause my BP has been higher than normal. Oh yeah, “and I took 1/2 a Toprol this morning.” Herman gets a shot of saline and pokes it in the tubes on the machine and tells me to see how I feel in 15 minutes. My BP is now up to about 105/58 but I don’t feel the difference. I lay back all tingly and faint and try to enjoy the sense of light-headedness. It’s a quarter after 3. By 3:30 I’m feeling the same. Then I look up and it’s 5:45. I feel okay and my brain tells me I must’ve fallen asleep. Herman is gone and the BP reading on the machine is 110/74, so that tells me things are back to normal. I turn on the TV news and finish out my time. By the time I leave my BP is normal.

My Birthday: So, it’s my 60th birthday! I am having a harder time thinking about being 60 than I did at 50. 50 was a celebration of survival and perseverance. 60 seems OLD, even though when I search my insides for oldness I can’t find any. My dad said on the phone that 60 even sounds old to him. Katie arches her eyebrows at “60”! She is over for my birthday dinner of green chile and chicken enchiladas (the boycott is broken) with not so much cheese. And for dessert, of course, pineapple upside down cake. The kids all give me gifts: KT a Texas State T-shirt commemorating the fact that she decided to go to a big college after all; Shayna a build-it-with-your-daughter project (Palm Chime) and a book; and Lizzie more books, a Texas map, and Cowboy bandaids since I use so many. Earlier in the day, before dialysis, we celebrated by visiting the Blanton Museum of Art* where I was excited by Morris Louis, (early) Mark Rothko, Thomas Hart Benton, and Jan Brueghel the Younger.

And so this 60th birthday includes family, dialysis, prickliness, and other physical sensations that prove to me that I am still on the planet… alive and kickin', as we say in West Texas. And very happy to be here. I recall a verse of one of Ferlinghetti’s poems:

Yes the world is the best place of all
----------------------------------for a lot of such things as
--------making the fun scene
----------------------------and making the love scene
and making the sad scene
------------------------and singing low songs and having inspirations
----and walking around
-----------------looking at everything
-----------------------------------and smelling flowers
and goosing statues
-----------------and even thinking
-----------------------------------and kissing people and
-making babies and wearing pants
------------------------------------and waving hats and
---------------------------and going swimming in rivers
------------------------on picnics
-----------------------------in the middle of the summer
--------and just generally
--------------------------'living it up'

So, there you have it.
Notes: In at 74.8 and out at 72.8 Kgs.
New Readers: For A Welcome Post, click August 2006 on the Sidebar.
* The Blanton retrieved July 2007 online from
** Ferlinghetti, L. (1955) Pictures of the gone world 11. Retrieved online July 2007 from lyrikline.org,


Anonymous said...

Happy 60th Birthday Jack! Here's to at least 120! Just wanted you to know that I've become an avid reader of your blog. I wish you a wonderful year filled with good health and happiness.


cheryl martin said...

Just had to read about your 60th birthday - and just got a "hint" of how you're feeling about being soooo old!! It sounds like you had about the best day you could of had - family and feelings (maybe you could have done without the "tingly" stuff)and lots of love. Happy Birthday, again. your cheryl

ps. I liked the poem - alot...