David

He gets anxious behind the wheel of the car, cursing at people who pull out unexpectedly from their hidden driveways; he grips the steering wheel tighter. When his daughter drives, he clasps the handrail by his temple and doesn’t let go until they have arrived at the grocery store. She needs to take him by the arm, because he walks slowly and will stop if she engages him in conversation. If she lets go of him she’s afraid they’ll never leave, he’ll get caught up in looking at the variety of breads, instead of just choosing the multigrain and moving on. With the three girls, he is less serious. Their energy draws away some of the anxiety he carries with him, all the time. The youngest asks him whether he likes a spread of sun-dried tomatoes. He has to adjust his hearing aid before he asks what she just said. She doesn’t mind repeating herself to her grandfather. Her face is intent and her thick eyebrows high when she’s asked him three times. He makes a face at her; sundried tomatoes are not his thing.
The daughter mentions her father’s driving to the physician, conveying her apprehension over the anxiety it causes him. The doctor asks whether he’s been involved in any accidents. She shakes her head. The father adjusts his hearing aid, and it squeals and he flinches. How often does he drive? The patient answers now that he can hear the questions, he drives several times a week, just around town to get groceries, sometimes to the hardware store, and to the senior center where he meets other chess players. The car gives him freedom. Without the car, he would be dependent on someone to take him places. The daughter sees that time coming; the patient cannot conceive of that life.
Quality of life is important, the doctor notes, as he begins the physical exam, and asks when the patient last had his medication. He takes his pills with 2% milk and coffee, Latin style, though he uses instant instead.
The daughter has urged him to try Cremora instead of milk, but he hasn’t tried it yet. She reminds him the milk protein in the coffee competes with his medication. He might have more energy to walk if he used Cremora, he nods, though she has told him before. The physician comments that he needs to try to exercise every day, if not a walk, then at least some stretching. The doctor takes an emergency call and steps outside the examination room, leaving the medical student briefly with the patient and daughter. It is silent in the room, until the student engages the two demonstrating something he has noticed in the patient. A stooped posture, he demonstrates by rounding his head and shoulders, impairs his breathing. He tells the patient he can hook a broom, or cane between his elbows, to open the chest and practice standing against a wall so that the heels, buttocks, shoulders and head all touch, then move away and stand erect. The doctor re- enters the room, corrects his posture and asks whether the senior center offers yoga. The patient smiles and admits he thinks only women attend the class.

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