The Elder Law Forum

The Elder Law Forum By Michael Myers Baseball Hall-of-Famer-and-Philosopher Satchel Paige once asked, "How old 'wuz' you be, if you didn't know how old you 'wuz'?"

He made that observation in 1965, at the age of 59 and the oldest player to have ever played in the major leagues. He was affirming the bromide that �a person is only as old as he (or she) feels!�

He was striking out batters young enough to be his grandsons. In his 1962 autobiography, �Maybe I�ll Pitch Forever,� he offered his six �Rules for Staying Young�:

(1) Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood.

(2) If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.

(3) Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move.

(4) Go very light on the vices, such as carrying on in society.

(5) Avoid running at all times.

(6) And don�t look back � something might be gaining on you.

As I turn 69 this week, thereupon entering the 70th year of this incarnation, I find that I am adhering to much of what Satchel recommended. First and foremost I remain allergic to physicians, hospitals, and places where highly-compensated persons invade the body with needles, scalpels, scopes and other devices.

My Catholic-Buddhist orientation has led to a scrupulous avoidance of the stuff passed through the drive-up windows of commercial pharmacies. I wince as my colleagues spend thousands of health plan dollars on statin drugs, incurring the risk of statin myopathy and memory loss. Satch would not approve.

Rather, he might ask us to ponder this question: �How sick ?wuz� you be if a doctor wasn�t there to tell you how sick you ?wuz�?�

A recent study confirmed what many of us have long understood: that over the course of a lifetime each of us experiences cancer from time to time, only to have it repulsed by our self-healing immune system. I can only assume that since I was last treated by a physician 33 years ago I have had one or more such encounters.

But because I didn�t have a doctor to tell me I had cancer, I didn�t know how sick I �wuz�. Nor would I know how old I �wuz� if I didn�t have a calendar. But I do. And now I�m going to start thinking �cool thoughts� and doing some gentle �jangling.�

(Pro bono legal advice and information are available to persons 55 and older at USD Senior Legal Helpline, 1-800-747-1895; mmyers@usd.edu)

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