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MS and Aging I

Updated on May 4, 2019
Thomas Vetto, MD profile image

A thought-piece, I think, more than anything else. I ‘enjoyed’ another flare and put up with its’ month-long recovery. Now I’m writing again

Self-portrait, sans glasses; late-evening.
Self-portrait, sans glasses; late-evening.

Dante, MS and Fighting the Good Fight

It hasn't been just sloth which has slowed down my writing in the last six months or so. I have found myself dead in the water, entirely unmotivated. Today, after a shave and shower, I sat down in my chair and signed onto HubPages out of habit and, having got so far in the past week as to build a framework of topics and pictures, I began to fill it in. Habit. Useful, I am finding more and more, in Multiply Sclerotics. Without a medical practice to goad me onward, it helps me get out of bed. It has me avoid Netflix or Hulu or YouTube before the sun has crossed the yardarm and such evening divertimentos are allowable.

Dante, a very political man whose The Prince should be read by any literate and educated person, was banished from his home (Florence) and went off into the country for a period of rusticant, eremitic, agricultural pursuits. But in the evenings, after the needs of his vegetable patch and, I guess, his comestible animals, had been taken care of, he changed his clothes and donned the robes of his previous office as a high-middle-level advisor and sat at his desk as the night closed in, lit his lamp and wrote commentaries on the workings of politics in his day as he saw it. The Prince was fruit of that period.

I am in an analogous situation; it would be so easy to give up a scholarly role and descend into a life of movies, shows, inactivity, food: sleep unending.


I receive a prodding from the Almighty whenever I review my disability insurance. One of my sources dries up, ends, when I am 65. In two months, I will be 59. With mortgages and Federal loan payments for the kid's college unending, I had better find a new source, one I like and which moves me along on my path of independence and 'worthwhileness' and, like Dante, keeps me alive, awake, somewhat disciplined and in the Game.

What I used to do.
What I used to do.

Milestones and the Fighting of them

Time Passes. In the five years since my retirement from the active practice of Medicine I have watched as my honed knowledge of Emergency medical care has become inevitably blunted. Thank God for the Internet, which provides me all the CME (continuing medical education) I need to keep up with my field and keep my Arizona license bright'n shiny.

I have carried an active DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) number for over twenty years. It has never been a financial burden for me until this year. It was a milestone and giving it up nearly as wrenching as my decision not to re-re-board when my Boards expired over a year ago. (Much too expensive, when continuance of my insurance income depends on relinquishment of active Emergency Medicine practice.)

My DEA number allows for non-ER practice, which is allowed. I could write meaningful prescriptions, if I needed to. My dad has his number, unused for 25 years. My brother, a Professor of Surgery, recommends my keeping it active since it was such a big deal to get in the first place and so easy to renew on-line. My regular Internist points out that the registration, good for 3 years, is not too expensive when amortized over such a span.

I agree with this. Killing the number, removing all chance at a continued career in the Unseen Future, is short-sighted. Time to act like my American countrymen and bury the expense in a convenient credit card, to be paid at a better time. I know I will sleep better doing this.

Big Earl's in Cave Creek, AZ. 5 miles north of home. Simply Fabulous. Bad for my figure.    Remember: It is easier to change your body image than your body.
Big Earl's in Cave Creek, AZ. 5 miles north of home. Simply Fabulous. Bad for my figure. Remember: It is easier to change your body image than your body.

Small Concessions in the Ongoing Struggle

Anyone who has reviewed my Magnum Opus, the collection of my published blogs, will see a gradual surrender of my position on How MS Will Affect Me. Early on I wrote about walking trails with my cane, limiting my walk to four hours/day, plodding along at 2 MPH. Wow. Not freak'in likely. Not yet, anyway. Give up on the idea of backpacking? NEVER!! head is bloody but unbowed...

I think I mentioned Once Upon A Time that 1) preparation for a Walk was justifiably an integral part of any outdoor sortie and 2) much of my backpacking could remain in my mind and a record of my daydreams placed in this blog was one of it's legitimate uses.


Colin Fletcher died recently, a late result of a horrible traffic accident which caused subdural hematomae, the last one of which finally ended his life. In his eighties, having revised The Complete Walker into its third iteration, he was from the age of fifteen my Magus, whose words were spilled gold and whose books entertained and instructed me into college and beyond. I still read him with nostalgia. He had planned on living to 120 and was in fabulous shape, all things considered, at his death. He is and can be a guiding post for me in my life with MS.

The Practicalities of My Life With MS

Making firm, unbending statements, poking holes in the air with my finger, is part of a formula for failure. The following points might act as suggestions for my future, in an effort to be fair to myself and my too-few readers:

1) I will try to substantially blog once each week. This may allow for better-thought-out scribblings with better spelling and grammar correction!

2) I think I have figured out how to include more pictures. I have a lot of pictures and would prefer using my own.

3) I can act as a mentor to others, since I have, in the not-too-distant past, backpacked, climbed, biked, trail-run in the very God's Country of the Pacific Northwest.

4) I am a Licensed, formerly-boarded physician; this aspect of my life is an integral and essential part of who I am.

5) Inclusion of various paragraphs in my journals about planned/imagined walks may be included herein.

6) I am a member of my culture, my society. I may occasionally rant political, as Dante did. My robes are the Doctoral Red and Black, from my School, OHSU, but I'll limit their use to the less-embarrassing public situations.

Christmas in La Jolla.
Christmas in La Jolla. | Source
Phoenix glow. Taken during a nighttime sojourn.
Phoenix glow. Taken during a nighttime sojourn. | Source
Cave Creek, AZ
Cave Creek, AZ | Source
Another eatery in Cave Creek.
Another eatery in Cave Creek.

Final Notes

When I first set out the framework for this blog, I left plenty of holes which might or might not be filled with text. I have run out of text for today. Thank you and God Bless.

An Arizona Plethora
An Arizona Plethora | Source
Feed me, Seymore!
Feed me, Seymore! | Source
And keep yore shootin' arn holstered!
And keep yore shootin' arn holstered! | Source

© 2013 Thomas A Vetto MD


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