Advice From an Old Man

His name reminded me of a town where I spent a fun weekend a long time ago. Maybe his distant relatives settled there and it was named after them. Who knows? As I walked up the corridor I wondered what kind of shape this octogenarian was going to be in. As I called out his name a head turned my way indicating recognition. He slowly stood up and began to walk in my direction. I sent him to the loo. 


As with all tests and especially with all first timers it’s important to explain what is going to happen. The issue that brought him here was to see if a bone in the ball of his foot was injured. As he got his shoes off it was evident that there were other things that were plaguing him. His swollen feet indicated some their problem which he indicated came from having a few growths removed from his calf. He said that ever since then his foot has been swollen. 

“This was from when I was stationed in Singapore!” 

He exclaimed and proceeded to tell me about how much fun it was to spend time over there. I was getting him comfortable for the fifteen minute whole body sweep. 

“The detector is going to move close to you but it won’t touch you and then it’s going to contour around your body as you move out.” I told him. 

He closed his eyes as I moved him in underneath the detector and pressed start. I watched from the control room as the camera moved down towards his face stopping when the light rails were breached. 

I couldn’t help but feel fondness for him. He had this sparkle in his eyes and a vigor that was only attenuated by his body. I could tell by looking and talking to him that he lived life to the fullest and age is the only thing holding him back. His aura had strength and this may be what is holding disease at bay. 


I positioned him for the next scan and we chatted about things other than what brought him here. He told me about his time in the army. He was stationed in Ceylon for a year and then Singapore for three. The blotches on his skin that covered his whole body were a result of continual exposure to the sun. 

After finishing his scan I helped him off. He was laying in the bed for forty-five minutes and his bones stiffened up a bit. He had this gleam in his eyes. It spoke of the positive nature inside of him. He launched into some of his adventures as a youth when he cycled up to Newcastle on the east coast of the island and then south to Southamption. 


“You just have to go out there and do it!” He exclaimed. He must have been a precocious kid. His younger siblings are living in other parts of the world. One is in St Louis and the others in Perth. He was slowly putting his shoes on. I didn’t want to rush him. He asked me if I had ever ridden a motorcycle. I lied and said yes for some reason. He told me of a time when he was at Euston station sitting in a train.  The carriage was empty and a train manager lead this girl and sat her accross from him at a table. They chatted and it turned out that she was his bosses niece. I was waiting for him to tell me that they fell in love and got married but he remembers taking her on a ride on his motorcycle. “You just have to go for it.”

His blue eyes sparkled as his face expressed the joy of those moments all those years ago. He asked me if I ever sailed and said that it was a fantastic experience. He bought a sailboat at fifty and used to take his kids sailing around the south coast. It was a wonderful experience. As he was telling me all these snippets of stories I wanted to interject and say something if my own story. I wanted to tell him of my tree planting days, or of the time I went to Woodstock and even of my journey here. He asked me if there was anything that I wanted to do and there are loads of things but they aren’t the adventurous thrilling things. I’ve done many already in my life. 

When you encounter a person with such a presence and hear about life full of adventure it makes you think about your own life. I think about my project and about the move to the praries. I think about the opportunities that I have taken and where those opportunities have taken me. 

He was one of the millions that voted to brexit. He believes that the UK is better off just getting on with it on its own. I quipped that you can’t move the island. He gave me a funny look. He limped away back to the waiting room so that his daughter can take him back home. We shook hands and wished each other all the best. The next patient was waiting outside. 

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