Arsène Voisine, my first patient this morning, rose from his chair as I entered the exam room. At 89, he has a strikingly energetic way of moving and speaking. His eyes squinted as he vigorously shook my hand and said “Good Morning, Doctor”.
“How are you?” I inquired.
He flashed a grin that quickly reverted to a frown, shrugged and turned his forearms outward, exposing the palms of both hands in a Gallic-looking gesture.
“I stayed up all night trying to think of something I could complain to you about, but I couldn’t think of anything. I am quite well, thank you. I feel like forty-five.” His pretended frown turned into his usual grin again.
Arsène is a slender man with deep facial wrinkles and large, knotty hands. I see him often in the office; he is a Senior Volunteer, who brings other, less mobile seniors to appointments and helps them with their shopping, banking and other errands.
He is an informed health care consumer, who always reads up on any concern or symptom he might have before deciding to contact our office. His favorite reference is the Mayo Clinic.
There is no mistake, this man is proud of his vigor and good health. He often points out how he lives well and practices moderation, although I sometimes think he expends more energy than I do. He thinks nothing of driving on snow-covered roads an hour each way through moose country to go ballroom dancing on a Saturday night. As he talks about his favorite dances, his shoulders rise, his elbows and knees bend and he looks like he is getting ready to jump.
He never did seem to retire; a master plumber and electrician, he still seems to be the one people around here call on to fix things, and he revels in telling me about his diagnostic triumphs.
“I could have been a doctor”, he sometimes tells me. “I love solving problems.”
He may not be a colleague in the classic sense of the word, but when I hear him talk I do think of him as a mentor and role model. He loves his life, is grateful for his good health, enjoys fixing things and helping those less able-bodied than himself, and he still does the cha-cha at 89.
Arsène – I want to be like you when I’m 89; I’d like some of that attitude!