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From The Desk Of Clarence Bass

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Back to Cooper Clinic, a Brief Report

The most surprising and satisfying outcome of my 7th visit to the Cooper Clinic last month (March 2004) was a personal best on the stationary-bike stress test. The other was learning that my new doctor, W. Lynn McFarlin, MD, has the eyes of an eagle. Like Dr. Arnie Jensen, my friend and longtime physician who moved to the Mayo Clinic for family reasons, McFarlin specializes in preventive medicine--and doesn’t miss a thing. I don’t know him as well as Arnie, but enjoyed my first visit. He's shooting for 25:30 on the dreaded treadmill test, which shows he practices what he preaches. Hope he makes it.

I’ve been concentrating on indoor rowing and haven’t been on a bike for months. (I’ve been tested on the bike the last few visits, because the treadmill stirs up my lower back; see article 105.) I didn’t know how I’d do and, frankly, was a little afraid I might embarrass myself in front of the new doctor. I hoped to match the 21 minutes recorded on my last visit (top category Superior for my age), but wasn’t at all sure I could repeat without specific training. I just got on the computerized Monark cycle and hoped for the best.

Happily, I didn’t have anything to worry about. The technician asked me to tell him when I was near the end and could only last another minute. (The resistance increases each minute.) At 19 minutes, I told him I could go two more minutes. But, I was still going strong at 21 minutes and announced: “One more minute.” At 22 minutes--and 23 minutes--it was the same story. I kept going and finally called a halt at 24 minutes. That put me in the top 4% for my age, according to Dr. McFarlin. He added that I could’ve done more. I think he was right, but not without a major effort. I was very happy with 24 minutes. Like Bill Pearl says, it’s good to save a little for next time.

A physical exam is part of every visit to the Cooper Clinic. It was amazing what Dr. McFarlin could tell from simply looking at me and poking here and there. His first pronouncement was, “You’re obviously not the usual 66-year-old I see.” No surprise there, but that was only the beginning. Palpating my abdominal area, he noted “great development of the abdominus recti.” No great surprise either. But he kept going, uncovering my weak left shoulder and a mild atrophy of my left triceps, things no physique judge ever mentioned--and without a hint from me. There was more but you get the idea. The topper was something no other doctor ever mentioned, something I didn’t think was visible: “A right clavicular deformity consistent with previous history of clavicular fracture.” I told McFarlin my dad accidentally backed the family car over me breaking my collarbone when I was about 4—but only after he spotted the “deformity.” Eagle eye is right. I’m impressed.

I miss Arnie--we still stay in touch by phone--but I’m in good hands with Dr. McFarlin. Maybe he’ll stop calling me “Mr. Bass” when I go back next year.

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Copyright © 2006 Clarence and Carol Bass.  All rights reserved.