Saturnino P. Javier, MD, FPCP, FPCC, FACC
“Maraming salamat po, Dr. Javier. Dahil po sa inyo, umabot po ng 102 years ang tatay namin”. (Thank you very much, Dr. Javier. Because of you, our father reached 102 years.)
THE family’s profuse expression of gratitude for Mr. C took me aback. It made me pause for a while – and prodded me to launch into a series of self-formulated introspective questions – “Did I actually do that? Did I really cause him to go this far? Did the family just attribute the old man’s longevity to my medical prowess?”
Quite frankly, I was, with a full inflated ego lurking inside, just fully tempted to take all the glory and savor every minute of the collective expression of gratitude. I was on the verge of getting onto a maniacal ritual of chest-thumping to declare I was indeed the reason for Mr. C to reach this far – when all his contemporaries have long passed away. But I held my horses and thought about how this man managed to reach102.
Mr. C remains my oldest patient to date. He started seeing me when he was about 80 years old. He was hypertensive with some cardiac rhythm abnormalities – and was maintained on a number of medications. Surely, I must have been a factor in his longevity. But while I can be one of the many reasons, it is utterly delusional to claim full credit for Mr. C’s long-term survival.
As an earlier article published in the New England Journal of Medicine a few years ago had concluded, the population today is bound to reach the nineties and hundreds. Blessed are those with such good longevity genes for they shall literally inherit the earth. Mr. C’s genes, I surmise, have been a vital reason which has enabled him to reach this far. A sister also lasted till 97.
Mr.C also lived a healthy lifestyle and paid regular attention to his health. Not exactly a carnivorous man, he always had normal total cholesterol and LDL -cholesterol levels. He had regular clinic follow-ups and visits, regular intake of medications, and periodic screening examinations, which surely must have contributed to his 102 years.
Equally important, I believe, is that he has a good and reliable family support system all these years. He always has two or three daughters accompanying him during clinic visits. A son or a daughter occasionally calls if a bad cough or painful urination bothers him. (Lately, I have advised them to see me far less frequently to avoid hospital-acquired infections. Furthermore, because of frail conditions and walking difficulties, I have brought up the possibility of house visit by another physician I can recommend.)
Science and technology, with its array of new drugs and discoveries, have generally paved the way for people to live longer and die older. Advances in medicine have bred more geriatric patients as the population keeps getting more seniors to enjoy more quality lives.
Most importantly, the Divine Almighty, who ultimately defines and designs everyone’s timelines and departure times from this earthly journey, must have blessed Mr. C quite bountifully. The physicians are but instruments of a more powerful Divine Healer who imparts His healing hands and merciful compassion to all those who call for Him in times of desperation and need.
To date, Mr. C is about to celebrate his 103rd birth anniversary. Though limping, he remains ambulatory with assistance. He remains sharp in mind and in hearing. He has expressed he is ready to go anytime I want – to which I retort, “That is not for me to decide.”
Some guys are truly blessed.
Vital Signs Issue 88 Vol. 4, June 1-30 2016