Sam Bauman: Into the medical testing arena with luck



As we age, medical tests seem to come as often as we tear pages off the calendar. I recently knocked off two in one day with VA staffers miles apart. Some good news, some less so.

First exam was for my two-year-old hearing aids. They consist of ear molds that plug into ear canals and battery holders that do the actual sound reception and boosts. The wire loops over and behind the ear.

My problem and reason for the meeting was that the over-the-ear parts keep falling off whenever I put on a hat, ear bands or ski helmet. I recently had tried out a new kind of wireless hearing aid that is small, tucks into the ear neatly with no connecting wires and produces clear amplification.

The VA staffer listened to my complaint about hearing aids falling off and my report on the new smaller one.

First, I would not qualify for a new hearing aid until 2019. Bad news. But she had a suggestion for the current ones: Shorten the connecting tube that goes over the ears.

She snipped away and the parts over the ears didn’t fall off as easily. Then I asked if the VA had the switching device that hangs around the neck and transfers incoming calls from the iPhone directly to the hearing aids. The one I have is old and unreliable as friends calling me have complained.

Nope, the VA doesn’t stock these devices. I should have known that as when they came up with my present aids they didn’t even mention the device. I had to go to audio expert Dr. Wells on Roop to get the device and learn how to use it. Anyhow, that took care of my hearing aid problems.

So then I drove across town to the VA optical exam office. I haven’t had any real vision problems since a local eye doctor removed cataracts from both eyes. That was like a gray curtain lifted; I could now see well enough to read road signs in time to decide to make a turn.

The optical test was more than two hours long and included drops in the eyes to open them up. Final stage was a half-hour photo session looking into a viewer while a camera took photos of inside my eyeball.

I mentioned that I had a minor problem reading the numbers in crossword puzzles and they suggested expensive glasses, but since I get by largely with $1 reading glasses, I decided I could puzzle out the numbers with those.

The final verdict from the eye exam: My eyes were stable, which I guess was better than a report of problems.

So two exams in one day, a veritable triumph. I’ve used the VA for perhaps 10 years. While I have to make the 60-mile round trip to the VA, I have found it to be a good source of medical help.

But I do have to find an updated switcher to move calls to my hearing aids.

Or, what did you say?

‘Live by Night’ is no motion picture masterpiece

Seniors may well enjoy some aspects of the Ben Affleck’s film “Live by Night.” It’s a somewhat disjointed film about the Roaring 1920s when booze was available if you had your own bootlegger.

Some pleasures in the film are social stereotypes of the time and some beautiful automobiles as well as plenty of violence.

Joe Coughlin (Affleck), son of a Boston police lieutenant, breaks with his father and hies off to Tampa, Fla., to break into the local crime world of booze and machine guns. The social sartorial notes are suggested by the wearing of hats by all senior hoods at almost all times. Without a fedora you’re nobody in those crime days. Exceptions are revival meetings where hats are doffed.

Another delightful part of the movie is the use of cars belonging to that era. One beauty is a bight yellow convertible that would look pretty good at any auto show these days. Make is not shown, but a collector’s item for sure. There’s also a boast of a Rolls Royce, stately as an ocean liner.

More is the constant use by both good and bad guys of the Thompson submachine gun, apparently available everywhere in the ’20s.

There are plenty of pretty women as religious revival stars (one gets knocked off) and as gun molls. There also are white-robed KKK horsemen, compete with a burning cross, but they are quickly dropped. Plus lots of cleavage.

Joe is in Florida and during the Prohibition era hods to become a bootlegger. As his operation grows, Coughlin faces off against local gangsters, Klansmen, and religious evangelicals while he fights for Tampa’s criminal underworld. It all becomes disjointed as director Affleck lets things unravel. He makes up for it with many full-face scene of himself whenever a break in the story comes. He’s not a good portrayer of crime problems in these facial outings.

Affleck wrote and directed this adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s 2012 crime novel. The movie co-stars Scott Eastwood, Zoe Saldana, Elle Fanning, Sienna Miller, Brendan Gleeson and Chris Cooper.

Not a great movie, but it has its moments of effused violence when everyone is using his Tommy Gun to make a point. Some beclouded nudity and interracial romance. But above all are those wonderful cars of those days, small beauties and large ocean vessels of cars. Makes our recent array of SUVs look pretty tacky.

Sam Bauman writes about senior affairs, among other things, for the Nevada Appeal.


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