A Letter Sent to a Friend

darling girl:

as you aware i am 81 (in my 82nd year!) and pain is creeping over me like ivy over an old building. my partner of 33 years is 60 (now in his 61st year) and because of his HIV diagnosis is in worse shape than me.

we have been studiously going to doctors every time our primary physician refers us to a specialist.

we discovered over a third of our time is spent in waiting rooms, imaging centers and hoping for cortisone injections.

yesterday it all came to a merciful stop.

my partner, whose insomnia is world class, had been referred by our primary physician to an allergist's office in the hope of clearing his nostrils and allowing him to sleep.

we always attend each other's doctor's appointments so that one of us will hear what is said
and one of us will hopefully retain whatever it is that we hear.

the allergist's waiting room in culver city (why?) was airless and had eight chairs, all of which
were occupied by snifflers, coughers, scratchers, and two wretched children who played with drums.

i immediately became allergic to children and drums. is this why one goes to an allergist? to get
allergies?

i waited for someone much younger than i to leave their chair in the waiting room to be
tested, probed, have their various orifices inspected, so i could sit down.

once this was achieved (a 15-minute wait for an elderly queen without cartilage in both knees) i reached for a magazine to while away the hour i knew it would take for us to be summoned. the first magazine that i was able to wrench from a rack was a 1975 issue of Architectural Digest featuring an avocado kitchen in Arlene Francis's NYC apartment. the alternative was a magazine called Golf with Arnold Palmer on the cover...

why do doctors do this, i wonder? it should be ordained by Obamacare that they keep their magazine subscriptions up to date and, indeed, have more interesting magazines available to their patients.

doctors' offices serving the gay community should have subscriptions to Inches and Jock or Freshmen.

but instead they seem to specialize in Popular Mechanics and Auto Digests with Edsel cars as the car of the year.

i mused over the possibility that the doctor's medical knowledge may be as outdated as his magazines. it certainly gives one pause for thought.

after an hour of waiting and watching everyone who arrived after us be ushered into the office, we were called...

... to see a doctor who, apologizing for his asthma (really?) and using a Bounty paper towel as handkerchiefs, came barging into the office. he offered me his hirsute hand for a shaking, coughed without covering his mouth, pulled his trousers over his Michelin-boy torso, and mistook me for my partner's father.

i have never seen a doctor in such urgent need of care himself. about 70 lbs overweight, coughing and spluttering throughout the interview, a face blood red -- a heart attack inches away, my partner, cowering in a corner of yet another windowless and airless office, allowed his ears and eyes and throat to be examined by this man who looked like a carpet salesmen or one of those people who bother tourists in Turkey ("wanna buy a carpet?" "meet my sister?" "meet my brother?")

he told my partner that his nasal passages were white, and he should be tested for allergic reaction to carpets, pillows, dogs, cats, foods and many other things, which would take possibly a year to get to the end result.

we made an appointment for two weeks hence for these tests to start, knowing full well that we would cancel them the moment we got home. ("we will be in Bucharest!")

then we went to what we call the Jessica Lange restaurant because we have seen her eat there a number of times, and decided to hell with doctors, waiting rooms, out of date magazines -- just let nature take its course.

the medications we have now we will refill, but unless we break a leg or an arm, or have a kidney stone, we have decided not to address any medical issues we have. we both believe that doctors are keeping people alive too long. the thought of getting two more years of gnarly old age is not an enticing future.

Arlene Francis lived to be 93 -- her avocado kitchen in NYC long forsaken for a hospital in San Francisco.

i don't recommend this for you, but after complaining to you on the phone this morning about medical treatment you asked me to commemorate my decision in an e-mail. (i guess you have finished the Tina Fey book).

so here it is duly commemorated.

cough, cough, sneeze sneeze, itch itch and love

mmmm