Dog Years

From the other end of the leash

Our dog, , is about 90 in dog years.

She no longer gets up from her bed each time I come into the kitchen, and she doesn’t hear me when I call her to come.

If she takes a corner too quickly on the hardwood floor, her back legs slip out from under her like bald tires on black ice and she lands with a thump on her side.

The other day, instead of standing at the backyard door to signal she needed to go out, she stood patiently waiting for me with her head and shoulders in the utility closet, one door over to the right. She seems to have canine Alzheimer’s, or at least a touch of doggy dementia.

It’s scary to watch, and her veterinary bills are equally daunting. It just doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that we adopted her as a puppy from the  

Worst of all is that if Frances is heading around the bend, I am starting to realize that I might be a leash-length behind. In my head I am still sixteen, or at least under thirty. But the years are slipping by and the evidence is everywhere.

Case in point: The other day, I was chatting with a much younger friend who attended a Hollywood Oscar party where she met Tom Hanks.

I was starstruck. I love Tom Hanks – smart, humble, human and a Skyline High local boy. (Two of my favorite movies are You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle. I wanted to be Meg Ryan, walk down that wooden pier, onto that houseboat and fall into his arms forever.)

My friend said, “Oh, I just love Tom Hanks, too! He reminds me of my father.”

Father — I kid you not. She said that. Then I realized that she was probably young enough to be his daughter, closer to my daughter’s age than mine.

A while ago I saw a picture of Robert Redford’s son in the Parade section of the San Francisco Chronicle. He looked older in that picture than how I picture his father should look. My world is changing.

I am not sixteen, nor under thirty. Last September, my doctor authorized my first colonoscopy exam – a right of passage to the second half of a century.

After reassurances from several close friends that it wasn’t so bad, I stopped procrastinating and gathered the courage to schedule the procedure, then postponed when I found out that my co-pay would be $1,000.

Now don’t start lecturing me because I know it’s important. I don’t want to die from colon cancer, or any cancer for that matter, but a test that has waited for fifty years can wait one more.

A year flew by and last week I received an email from our insurance agent: “Good news, Alice! Your medical premium is increasing by only 4.65 percent. I think you should renew as is.”

The sad part is he’s right. Compared to the last several increases, 4.65 percent is actually reasonable. Our average increase over the past several years has been 14 percent.

I got home from work and stood in the kitchen whining and moaning , about the cost of healthcare in a post-healthcare reform world. I told her it was just plain wrong for someone to have to postpone a test like a colonoscopy for budgetary reasons. Sarah said, “Shouldn’t they have a Groupon for that or something?”

Leave it to the younger generation to save us all. This is brilliant! Medical Groupons! Depending on your age, you can get all your friends to sign up together for C-Sections, mammograms, colonoscopies or hip replacements.

Advantages: 1.We wouldn’t allow each other to back out; 2. Think of the savings; and 3. You can bet we would all have a much better time if we were in it together.

Given the right meds, it would be just like a cocktail party, right? With backless gowns for all, you wouldn’t have to worry about getting a new outfit, or having to wear uncomfortable pantyhose or high heels. Works for me!

But until someone grabs that Groupon idea and runs with it, I will renew the health insurance policy, schedule the procedure, and find a way to deal with the co-pay.

And if the Buddhists are right and I come back in the world again one day in dog form, I pray my human companion swallows hard and pays my vet bills, gently pulling me out of the utility closet and leading me out the right door and into the garden. 

Tori Bray August 31, 2011 at 04:27 PM
I literally laughed out loud, this was hilarious!
Denise Shelton August 31, 2011 at 04:53 PM
A $1,000 co-pay? Yikes! I'd be thinking about clinics in Mexico if I were you!
Nancy Klein September 01, 2011 at 01:09 AM
Alice this one made me laugh and I thank you for that!!! Loved it.
Barbara Mooney September 01, 2011 at 03:53 AM
With your outlook on life, Alice you will never grow old.
Victoria September 01, 2011 at 05:23 PM
Although I laughed out loud when reading this I have to be a Debby Downer. If I had the $1,000 I would have given it to you yesterday. If the government wants to know why health care cost so much, this is one small example. I could go on for days on the subject of health care costs, but in honor of the one year anniversary of Daddy's passing away from colon cancer, I will stick to the subject. If medical insurance was forced to pay for preventative care, especially colonoscopies, they could save tenfold, or more, on treatment. Colon cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, given regular screening. The first thing they do when they expect colon cancer is a colonoscopy, so why not have one before you are sick and prevent it all together? From first diagnosis the treatment only becomes more invasive, painful, humiliating and quite frankly deadly. A five year life expectancy is still dying to me. Daddy's treatment over his three year survival, a miracle for his age, cost Medicare and BC&BS over 1.5 million dollars! That does not include the costs of taking care of him outside of the doctor’s office or the pain and suffering he had. Do you think it would have saved his insurance money to have paid for his colonoscopies every 3-5 years from age 50 on? And one more thing to think about, a tumor can grow 1cm a month, that 1cm could be your colon wall. It may sound harsh but it is only because I care. Love you with all my heart.
Alice Lewis September 01, 2011 at 05:57 PM
How good is it to have a sister-in-law who wants you alive?! Thank you, Vicky. I will not postpone...


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