I’m squirming in my seat, waiting for the verdict from my internist. She looks puzzled at my blood-test results, and I think I know why. Despite medication for my cholesterol and a diet limiting my meals to 1,500 calories, the scale registers me still at 140 lbs. I have not lost a single pound since my last visit, a month ago.
How can that be when I have been so serious about dieting? We hardly ate that month! We, in fact, avoided eating out, always an occasion for great temptation. There were absolutely no more buffets, a definite downfall of mine, and I was conscious, deadly conscious, of my intake at wakes, where they seem to be serving better and better food since word got around that funeral expenses, catering included, are deductible from the estate of the deceased.
Actually, my doctor, if not exactly pleased, is neither alarmed. My sugar, a concern since my late mom had been a diabetic, presents no problem. My cholesterol is down, impressively, although still above the normal count. I’m to continue to medicate until my next appointment, in far December. Whew, another reprieve!
Before letting me go, however, she turns very serious and says, indeed almost pleads: “I can’t tell you how important it is for you to walk 30 minutes a day and spend another 30 minutes on the treadmill three times a week.”
How could she tell that the rains have kept me away from the gym? She goes on to alert me to such little time left between now and 80, when physical deterioration escalates such that sensible motivation and resolve could count for little. That’s in fact the time when we start asking ourselves the defeatist question, “Whatever is all this for?”
As in most of my visits with my doctor, we come to reminisce about Mom, her patient for many years. It’s true that after 80, Mom lost all interest in doctors or any of their advice. She went instead for herbal teas, and ate what she liked. She even stopped the prescribed daily pricking of her finger to watch her own blood sugar.
As soon as I became aware of the neglect, I took her back to the clinic. As expected, she tested so badly a kidney assessment was recommended, which she refused. Her worst nightmares were any and all of the following: being sentenced to a lifetime of dialysis, amputations, and kidney transplant, all of which, she imagined, would doom us her heirs to penury. “And for what?” she’d ask.
She never wanted to see a doctor again.
At 85, avoiding all those nightmares, in fact without medication, save for those teas, she went to sleep, after one final dinner of lechon, and woke up in heaven.
I have myself started drinking okra water, a tip from a friend, for controlling my sugar. Imagine drinking raw egg whites. But I’m not one to take chances like Mom. In fact, I take no chances: I take teas with medicines. But do I tell my doctor now, or do I first give the okra a chance?
She now shifts to my non-life-threatening issues, my droopy lids and eye bags. Having also confessed here before about them, I’m now offered advice and referrals for repair by women who, I must say, are themselves attractive specimens of their own espousals.
I may have seen too many botched-up jobs to have a predisposed eye to well-done ones such as these ladies exemplify. Still, one thing has kept me from going for it: They all confess to having had it done at least twice.
In any case, it seems a bit late in the day for me. In seven years, I’ll be 80. How much time does the preparation and recovery time alone from at least two cosmetic eye surgeries take? What if I don’t scar well? And what about the all-important consideration—costs?
Just thinking of those things gives me a wiser appreciation of my eye hoods. Some days they’re not so bad, really. And I’m in good company, I further realize—company that’s increasing by the day.
So, welcome to the world of friendly hoods, Vergel! Look, you’re starting to lose your hair yourself, and your lids are getting droopy, too. It may not look good, but at least, on us, it looks natural. Don’t the droopies go so well with the rest of our faces?
There’s just no escaping or reversing aging. A Faustian deal may beat it, but, again, it costs one no less than one’s soul.
So, when my doctor asks what I have decided to do about my droopies, I reply, quite promptly, “I think I’m going to allow myself to look old.”
Old age is definitely not for sissies, I think—though I don’t tell her. Surrendering to it takes about as much guts as going for broke to stop it.
She doesn’t push me one way or the other, and she’s now smiling impishly, announcing, “Oh, my secretary tells me, something’s wrong with our scale. It’s off by at least 4 lbs. I had to ask because you actually look like you’ve lost.”
Another day, another battle. Today, I win.
So sorry: In my column last week, I rather lost it, and had Vella partnering with Eric V. Cruz for her last tango on stage on the night of her Parangal, Oct. 5. Eric in fact has been gone for some years, and, much as surely he’d have loved to, he couldn’t rise, let alone dance, for the occasion. The one who did, as evidenced by the picture, was another of Vella’s original partners, the perfectly alive Ricky Ella, who had flown in from Australia for the occasion with nine bottles of champagne for the grand toast.