Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Fountain of Youth

From head to toe captures my recent medical worries - ears, eyes, teeth, chest, abdomen, hips, legs and feet. Except for the last, each recital has been prodded, analyzed and largely remedied (or at least repaired to the extent possible). I'm presently inclined to think that the neuropathy affecting my lower extremities is irreparable, presumably the fallout of genetic abnormality or years of abuse. Otherwise my carcass is the subject of a Fountain of Youth - more pointedly described as a waterfall of retail enterprise into my coffers. Surmounting the limiting detail of the public health system means having to absorb some responsibility of one's own, a defeat which in my case is accelerated by impatience and absence from the jurisdiction for half the year.

All is not lost however!  Considering the preposterous and superfluous expenditure I willingly endured over the years, the application of a portion of the treasury to such compelling matters as physical well-being is by comparison hardly offensive. Truthfully the decision is not entirely a question of choice. At a certain age things predictably disintegrate. Unless one has a peculiar tolerance of deafness, blindness, heart failure and any other number of internal destructions, the only meaningful undertaking is a series of appointments with one's GP, various specialists, laboratories, X-ray, ultrasound and other prognostic centres. The pay-off of surgery, medical implants or other devices surpasses the pain killers (and I have tried them all - from constipating narcotics to psychedelic cannabis - with equal disappointment). Seemingly science is the answer - synthetic additions or replacement parts, the installation of which is governed by near-robotic machines of unprecedented capacity. There is still some room for artistic features to lighten the burden of demise - a choice of materials and colours. And of course there is the pervasive influence of technology generally - Bluetooth, internet and SmartPhones.

The appeal lingers - even after the most thorough rejuvenation - of healthful eating, sleeping and exercise. One can't pretend to snap one's fingers at Fate and expect to survive unscathed.  For this reason I feel a degree of embarrassment when asked by my medical questioners (who are mostly younger) about my history with alcohol and smoking (both of which I assume are unfashionable). It is too late to retard those particular errors. As far as I can tell my only recurring violation is the occasional red meat and cheese. Celery and steel-cut oats are my new vernacular.

It is lucky for me that I haven't abandoned my interest in bicycling. It is the combination of movement, mechanism and distance which I adore. The latest medical improvements have contributed to the entertainment.

The Fountain of Youth is a spring that supposedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks or bathes in its waters. Tales of such a fountain have been recounted across the world for thousands of years, appearing in writings by Herodotus (5th century BC), the Alexander romance (3rd century AD), and the stories of Prester John (early Crusades, 11th/12th centuries AD). Stories of similar waters were also evidently prominent among the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean during the Age of Exploration (early 16th century), who spoke of the restorative powers of the water in the mythical land of Bimini.
The legend became particularly prominent in the 16th century, when it was attached to the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León, first Governor of Puerto Rico. According to an apocryphal combination of New World and Eurasian elements, Ponce de León was searching for the Fountain of Youth when he traveled to what is now Florida in 1513. The legend says that Ponce de León was told by Native Americans that the Fountain of Youth was in Bimini and it could restore youth to anyone.

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