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An Old Dog Scratching at the Door


I feel like an old dog who has been wandering aimlessly through the streets of Los Angeles, and finally, worn and hungry, has decided to come home again, scratching at the door to get in.

Well, I may be that weary old hound in some ways, but it has not been a joyful, or even relaxing, drift down the avenues and up the alleys. For almost three months I have been hospitalized with pneumonia, internal bleeding, a severe diabetic attack, a weakening heart and a few other minor annoyances that left me teetering on the brink of eternity.

What made it worse was that it all came more or less simultaneously, making death seem a plausible alternative to growing old and useless. I am also afflicted with COPD, which alone could kill me. So severe was my condition that twice I imagined I could hear a body bag rustling in the distance. God was trying to decide.

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But life is no willow in the wind, my friend, but a roaring, howling miracle that demands to exist. Refusing to die, I was facing death with the same determination to live that I had energized as a young Marine in the Korean War. We yelled our defiance and charged on. Fix bayonets, boys, the gates of hell are opening!

My backups at L.A.'s West Hills Hospital were a pulmonologist, a cardiologist, a gastroenterologist and other -ists who just wanted to be a part of the fun. They loaded me with antibiotics and gallons of chemicals, checked my vitals 24 hours a day and kept asking me my name and age to determine, I guess, if my brain was still functioning. I became so tired of it, I said my name was Lady Gaga and I was 23 years old, but eventually they realized it was a joke. Doctors are not quick when it comes to humor. One or two may have even thought I actually was Lady Gaga.

But the old dog is home again, 30 pounds lighter and exercising like a madman to get back to where he was. It goes to show that at any age - and I'm almost 85 - you can continue to ride the howling winds of life if you really want to. Stand your ground. Be firm.

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If death comes knocking at the door, don't answer. Just curl up in a corner with the old eternal dog. He may even share his bone with you.

Photo: Nicole

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