Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Deflated and Rejuvenated

This week's annual medical exam, paid for by Medicare thanks to a provision of Obamacare, had a new twist. The nurse asked if I minded having a trainee participate with our regular family doc.

"Not at all," said I, and that was a good call. A pleasant, efficient, and obviously competent woman training to be a nurse practitioner arrived and did a fine job of  poking, jabbing, inspecting and questioning before the doc arrived to analyze things. I could find only a tiny flaw in her performance. As we were discussing the possible need for a colonoscopy, she observed, "You've reached your life expectancy, you know."

I chuckled at that lapse in exam-side manner, and suggested it only meant I was likely to live a little longer. But later in the day the full import of the statement hit me, and I felt a bit depressed by once again being reminded that it is no longer wise to make a lot of long-range plans.

This morning another pleasant woman lifted me from any lingering sadness. I headed for the local favorite breakfast restaurant to take care of hunger pangs caused by fasting before some routine blood tests ordered by my medical examiners. Two attractive waitresses called me Honey, Sweetie, and Darling in the span of about 10 minutes.

Of course, many geezers no doubt are addressed that way. But I'm going to hang around a while longer to confirm that.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

A Pope of Hope

Pope Francis has come to these shores and gone. The evening news can return to over-emphasizing other stories. What did the papal visit mean to Catholics and others in the U.S.? That was the topic of a lively discussion this weekend by a dozen friends.

Our group included one person who grew up as a Catholic, has left the church, and is unlikely to return. Another was once married to a Catholic and has many Catholic friends, although she is an Atheist. The rest of us had various religious backgrounds that did not include Catholicism; most now are Unitarian-Universalists.

Very few negative words were spoken about Pope Francis or his visit. What's not to like about a charming man who champions causes dedicated to helping the poor, reversing economic inequality trends, and living in harmony with our natural environment? And this Pope practices much of what he preaches, living modestly unlike some of his predecessors who favored regal splendor for themselves while telling others to sacrifice.

Now the question is what, if any, lasting positive effects will the papal words have. Our discussion group members advanced several ideas.

One with considerable expertise on environmental matters thought the Pope's statements that global warming is a fact and human activities are a principal cause would help move reluctant members of the U.S. Congress to see the light. Another said any advances toward more humanitarian and less dogmatic characteristics in the Catholic Church were welcome, and Pope Francis is steering the church in that direction.

I thought the most insightful comment was that Francis' appearance at this time in America was a masterful stroke of public relations. The church as been hard-hit by membership and financial losses in the wake of revelations of priestly misconduct. Exposure to a new leader who exhibits personal warmth, tolerance, and a gentle spirit was a positive thing for an organization very much in need of some warm fuzzies.

I agree that Pope Francis, with only a few minor exceptions, rather expertly delivered the right messages at opportune times. There is hope that some of his words will promote lasting changes.