Hitting a Nerve

Dusty, but still cool


When I was 16, keeping my car shiny was a priority. I washed it every weekend and waxed it once a month. I was pretty good at it and got paid to do the occasional job for a neighbor, too.

Dr. Allan M. Block, a neurologist in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Dr. Allan M. Block

In college I was busier, and my car was back at the house, so it didn’t need to be washed as much.

In medical school I think I washed the car once a year. Residency was probably the same.

Today I realized I couldn’t remember when I last had it washed (at my age I don’t have time to do it myself). So I looked it up in Quicken: Nov. 14, 2018.

Really? I’ve gone almost 5 years without washing my car? I can’t even blame that on the pandemic.

It’s funny how things that were once so important to us fall by the wayside as we get older and other stuff takes their place. I mean, I still like my car. It’s comfortable, has good air conditioning (in Phoenix that’s critical), and gets me where I want to go. At my age those things are what’s really important. It’s hard to believe that 40 years ago, keeping a polished car was the center of my existence. Of course, it probably still is for most guys that age.

It’s a reminder of how much things change as life goes by.

Here in my little corner of neurology, multiple sclerosis has gone from steroids for relapses, to a few injections of mild benefit, to a bunch of drugs that are, literally, game-changing for many patients. And the Big Four epilepsy drugs (Dilantin, Tegretol, Depakote, and Phenobarb) are slowly fading into the background.

But back to changing priorities – it’s the way life rewrites our plans at each step. From a freshly waxed car to good grades to mortgages to kids – and then watching as they wax their cars.

Suddenly my car looks dusty. Am I the same way? I’m certainly not 16 anymore. Realistically, the majority of my life and career are behind me now. That doesn’t mean I’m not still having fun, it’s just the truth. I try not to think about it that much, as doing so won’t change anything.

In all honesty, neither did washing my car. I mean, the car looked good, but did it make me one of the cool kids? Or get me a girlfriend? Or invited to THE parties? Not at all. Like so many things about appearances, very few of them really matter. There’s only so far that style will get you, compared with substance.

Which doesn’t change the fact that I need to wash my car. But procrastination is for another column.

Dr. Block has a solo neurology practice in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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