So far I have one titanium hip, a titanium knee, four titanium screws in my right ankle, and a titanium plate in my lumbar spine.
I prefer titanium to gold. Gold is quite heavy, whereas titanium is light. If I had gold in all those body parts instead of titanium, I would weigh much more. Then I would have to limit my calorie consumption. As it is, I can eat anything I want and still remain relatively lean.
Admittedly, airport security is a problem. I set off all the alarms. I usually explain to the security personnel that my left elbow does not have any metal in it, but so far, this quip does has not produced a smile. Instead, they say, "Wait here please"—as if I had a choice.
I also have plastic lenses in both eyes, but there is little long-term prospect for hoarding plastic. Thus far, there have been only minor increases in the price of titanium, but I am confident that its value will go up. If not, I can always replace the replacements with gold, even though that would make me feel ostentatious. It would embarrass me to tell people that I have several gold joint replacements.
Procuring all of this titanium, a rare metal, may give the impression that I have a lot of pecuniary foresight. But I have to be honest. My lifetime included gymnastics, a lot of skiing, riding horses—including starting wild colts—some mountain climbing, and rodeo competition. All of this probably contributed to a lot of eventual skeletal destruction and resultant acquisition of titanium, but that wasn't what motivated me to do all those things. I simply did them because I enjoyed them.
Well, maybe subconsciously I reasoned, "If I do these things, perhaps someday I'll acquire a substantiated hoard of valuable metal."
Truthfully, I spent a lot of money in those activities, especially skiing. I suppose that if I had started collecting titanium earlier, when the price was lower, I'd be in better shape financially now, but it just didn't occur to me to do so.
I started thinking about all of this because I was at the dentist the other day, and he said, "Wow! You have remarkable teeth for your age. Except for those two gold inlays, your mouth is perfect!"
So I asked him if he ever uses titanium inlays. He said, "No! Why do you ask?"
I pretended not to hear him. He could see that I wasn't wearing my hearing aids, so he didn't repeat the question.
Interestingly, all this titanium is the result of nonprofessional activities. Being a veterinarian for over half a century has not increased the amount of valuable metal I own. Oh, of course, I experienced injuries caused by my patients. You can't work in a mixed-animal practice, including a lot of zoo animals, without experiencing an occasional injury. I even got sprayed by a skunk I was descenting, but that sort of thing isn't solved with titanium.
Robert M. Miller, DVM, is an author and a cartoonist, speaker, and Veterinary Medicine Practitioner Advisory Board member from Thousand Oaks, Calif. His thoughts in "Mind Over Miller" are drawn from 32 years as a mixed-animal practitioner. Visit his website at robertmmiller.com.