Amblin' Alameda: A new game

Amblin' Alameda: A new game

Morton Chalfy

As an integral part of my geezerhood status, I am learning a new game: Waiting For Test Results. The rules are simple: One goes to a medical facility; gives blood, or urine, or both; gets into a machine that gurgles and crackles; or undergoes some other ritual of modern medicine. The technician is unfailingly polite but has been sworn to secrecy by a Higher Power so that no amount of wheedling will draw forth an opinion about one's test results. I am sure that after one leaves the facility the techs are shaking their heads in sympathy, “Poor guy, has no idea what's about to hit him.”

No, test results may only be learned from one's doctor and the only appointments available are weeks hence. So that's the game. One is waiting for results of tests, results which are already known to many but not the testee - tests which may determine the course of the rest of one's life, may shorten or lengthen it, may portend disaster or relief ... but meanwhile, just relax and wait for your appointment.

The heart of the game is “relax and wait.” One can do either, but not both at once. So I'm learning this game because it applies to almost everyone I know.

My personal method of relaxing and waiting is to enter the land of Denial and Forgetfulness. What doesn't exist (Denial) or isn't remembered (Forgetfulness) does not cause nervousness. While this may work for me, everyone has their own personal way of handling the wait. My methods figure prominently among the solutions as do Shopping To Take My Mind Off It, Drinking and Drug Use To Take My Mind Off It, using the story of the wait to increase the interest factor in my conversation and the 'Shrug It Off, What Can You Do About It' school of thought.

I find it's easier to play the game when I'm the one waiting for results and much harder when it's my sweetie, my sister or any of my children. A side rule to the game is never let your children know when you're waiting for results, and the more important the results, the more important it is to not let them know. Children worry, and children have enough to worry about with making sure that my grandchildren are safe and healthy and doing well in school. Besides, the more one's health is shared with one's children, the closer one is to the reversal of roles, and one is nowhere near ready for that.

It is wonderful how life provides these new diversions to keep one's interest up in every phase of the life cycle. Hormones rule our youth, work our middle age and test results our dotage. I want to point out how good that is. For the first time in human history a major occupation which employs nearly 20 percent of our working population is the care of the ill and the elderly. It's better to have test results to wait for than an imminent Grim Reaper. He'll come for us all eventually, but the tests may help stave him off for a while.