After a certain age (or uncertain age, in the case of women), you begin to develop an easy familiarity with your body parts. Not the stuff you see outside – I mean, at a few months old you already knew your hands and what they did, and your legs and so on. No, I am talking about the internal body parts. The heart, for example. Or the liver. After all, how many people below a certain age think about their pancreas or lungs?
These reveal themselves to us (in a manner of speaking) only when something goes wrong. And then our conversations are full of them. As a youngster, did you ever accidentally land up in the midst of a conversation between two people both over a certain age?
It is often a lesson you will have to pay a lot of money for in medical college. Once the mandatory weather-talk and we-must-catch-up topics are exhausted, they slip into the how-are-you mode. And this could take some time, as one of them begins with a short introduction to his troubling liver and moves on to such things as medical tests, medication, and the list of celebrities who have died of liver disease. It is at once illuminating and off-putting. You get a peep into the next stage of your life with the helplessness that comes with the realisation that the stages so far are irreversible.
And then you hit the magic figure – whatever the magic figure is that tips you into that section of your life known as "being a certain age". Now you get to know about such things as your kidneys and thyroid and intestines and you simply have to take an interest in them. Like old friends you have been ignoring for decades, they appear keen to resume a relationship. "Remember when you treated me so badly in college," one of them will say in a language you learn to understand, "well, here’s how I am going to get back at you." You may not know for a while just what it might do, but you can be sure that comeuppance is round the corner.
And so it grows, the knowledge of your internal organs which you thought wouldn’t matter when you were studying their names in school. Being ignored in school is one of the biggest insults for some of them, and they lie in wait, either expanding or contracting, whichever is the opposite of what they are meant to do, to trouble you.
Look after your heart when you are young, and it will look after you when you are old is an old saying which I just made up. But you get the idea.
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