Trying to Dodge (But Also Deal With) Health Issues and Aging

Last updated: May 2023

Thirty years ago (can it really be that long?) I was working at ABC News and was a frequent visitor to Sarajevo during the Bosnian conflict. You may recall all the journalists stayed at the much-bombed Holiday Inn that had been built for the 1984 Winter Olympics. The Serb forces were ranged above in the mountains that surround the city. Outside the hotel was Sniper Alley. You had to drive at top speed to gain access to the underground car park before a sniper decided you might be an interesting target. It was an adrenalin rush, but not one I’m keen to repeat.

Now at the age of 68, I have a new Sniper Alley where bullets are traded for prostate cancer, heart attack, stroke, and shingles, just to name a few. Prostate cancer caught me, but so far I’ve managed to dodge the other bullets. Other friends and colleagues also cruising (or stumbling) down this new alley have not always been as lucky.

My prostate cancer experience

Let me bring you up to date with my prostate cancer experience. It’s now a little over 5 years since I was diagnosed and in August 2020, I had my final hormone therapy jab. I’m now on 6 monthly checks and despite a gradual increase, my PSA level remains low. When I last had blood drawn, it stood at 0.50. My next check is in August. I remember a doctor telling me a heart attack was still more likely to carry me off before prostate cancer completed its task.

The term 'a full recovery'

Now I’m not sure whether it’s the result of contracting prostate cancer or just old age, but there’s one phrase that unfortunately can no longer be applied to me. You sometimes hear it on the news, perhaps following a serious traffic accident: The victim is expected to make a full recovery. Or in the early days of COVID-19, those suffering were sometimes said to have made a full recovery.

For those of us approaching our three score years and ten, a full recovery is not something we can always look forward to. Setting aside prostate cancer, my hearing loss isn’t going to get any better, my eyesight won’t improve, and as to my prostate, I guess that’s going to be monitored for the rest of my life. A full recovery back to energetic youthful health is beyond my grasp.

Now of course I hear you cry, Jim cheer up, there are reading glasses, contact lenses, hearing aids, a whole plethora of stuff to help you mount the summit of old age before you reach the top and plummet down the other side. To which I can also now add a cortisone injection which I had last week to reduce the grinding pain in my knee.

My morning routine has changed

My morning routine would make my teenage self laugh out loud at my current inadequacies. First up, I take a statin pill, followed by two further tablets to help lower my blood pressure, and then a Vitamin D tablet to make up for the lack of sunlight in my cloudy northern town. Then I realize I can’t see anything, so in go the contact lenses. That's followed by my wife telling me something I can’t hear, because I’m yet to fire up my hearing aids. What a tragic, walking wreck!

Still up for a challenge

Apologies if readers think I’ve gone off topic. I admit there’s not much mention of prostate cancer in this article, but if you have prostate cancer, you may be older, and it might not just be that malicious disease that is occupying your thoughts. There will likely be a whole swathe of other complaints that have decided to make their presence felt.

How we navigate our way along our own Sniper Alley needs careful thought and determination. Back in Sarajevo in 1992 I was scared but up for the challenge. I still am. Are you with me?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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