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Perspective: My body, my machine


Getting older made me realize how dependent I am of my physical condition. In the past I could live without much concern about my teeth, knees, ankles and wrists. Not to mention blood pressure or cholesterol.

But things have changed. I can still walk distances without running out of breath, just not as fast. Also, I must be careful about my back and hips, and control what I eat. All of this comes from the relationship with the doctors I see. In the past they were like bumpers in a bowling lane, now they're telling me what to do. And it's non-negotiable. I have to lose weight, floss every day, do low-impact aerobic exercise and avoid salt. They have it all covered. Now I feel as if my body were a leased car that needs to be returned with a full tank and free of nicks and dents. In fact, visiting them makes me feel as if I were seeing my parole officer.

Don't get me wrong, they're all very nice and understanding… but they still have a way to guilt-trip me. Is this what getting older means? Is this because of our obsession with looks and youth?

Honestly, I believe it's that healthcare has changed for me. Back then, it was there in case I needed it. Now, it prevents my need for care. That's one thing I remember every time I want a second serving of anything.

I am Francisco Solares-Larrave, and this is my perspective.

A Guatemalan native, he arrived in the United States in the late eighties on a Fulbright Scholarship to do graduate studies in comparative literature at the University of Illinois in Champaign Urbana. He has been teaching Spanish language, literature and culture at NIU since August 2000, and his main research interests are 19th-century Spanish American literature.