By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
From the outside, the sleek building in Lakewood looks nothing like a medical office. But the high-tech location makes sense: Inside, I'm being poked and prodded and wired up and calibrated and deconstructed and reconstructed like a very complicated machine.
I haven't been allowed to eat or drink anything in twelve hours, but my early-morning stupor dissipates with the arrival of a tray full of needles and empty vials, courtesy of a very cheerful medical assistant named Paula Florez. As Paula inserts what appears to be a spigot into my arm and begins filling vial after vial after vial, I watch my fingers for signs of withering. When a sizable quantity of my plasma rests on the tray, she hands me a bottle of fluorescent orange liquid and tells me to drink. As I down the sickly saccharine fluid, she explains that it's used to gauge my body's reaction to glucose. That's why the spigot stays in: She'll have to take more blood later.
Before I have time to complain, an even more cheerful medical assistant, Diane Henry, pops in and wraps a blood-pressure meter around my arm. "Is your blood pressure always like that?" she remarks at the results, then hurries away. Now Paula is back, carrying a bowl of ice water. "Stick your hand in this." One minute, then two minutes tick agonizingly by, as the ice in the water seems to seep, burning, into the pores of my hand. Finally Paula takes my blood pressure again: "You react to stress!"
I'm told to lie down and take off a sock. Paula places one electrode on my toe and another on my hand, to somehow measure my body fat. Before anything seems to happen, the electrodes are off and she's angling a pair of scissors toward the back of my head. As she snips a chunk of hair that will be used to assess my concentration of internal heavy metals, she says it's a good thing I have long hair: "If people have short hair, I can really jack them up." Then she's gone, leaving me sitting there, a spigot in one arm, a cold numb sensation in the other, with one sock off and a lock of hair missing.
The path to immortality doesn't feel glamorous so far, but it's worth it to people from all over the world who pay $3,000 for a one-day "longevity evaluation" or $6,000 for the two-day regimen. The program is run by Dr. Terry Grossman, co-author, along with noted inventor Ray Kurzweil, of the 2004 book Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever.
The book makes a bold claim: that technological advancement will eventually reach a point called the "singularity," where computers will allow people to live forever and change human existence to such a degree that people today can't even imagine what the ensuing world will be like. And it will happen, say the authors, in roughly forty years.
As weird as the assertion seems, it's catching on. Fantastic Voyage has sold more than 100,000 copies and has been translated into Chinese, Czechoslovakian, Portuguese and other languages. The book's attraction isn't just that it describes eternal life, but that it also lays out a road map to reach it. All we have to do, write the authors, is stick around long enough to witness the singularity — and they explain over 400 dense pages and 2,000 footnotes exactly how to do that, using precise diet, exercise and natural therapy recommendations. If that's not enough, people can come to the Grossman Wellness Center, a clinic that's described on its website, www.grossmanwellness.com, as one of the largest longevity centers in the country, to be treated by Dr. Grossman himself and his staff of nine.
That's why I'm here, subjecting my 29-year-old body to the most physical of all physicals, to determine my biological expiration date — and what I can do to avoid it.
But first I have to undergo more tests. Diane's back, with another bowl of ice water. My hand is once again throbbing when Paula looks in with surprise and lets Diane know she already ran this test. "Oh, you poor thing!" the two exclaim, giggling, before cheerfully changing the subject. "Almost time for you to get poked again!"
Terry Grossman doesn't look 61. His tanned face — one that may look familiar, since it was recently featured on a Barbara Walters special about aging — is noticeably lacking in the wrinkle department. In fact, you could say that his thin, healthy physique is actually just forty years old, since that's what medical tests at his clinic suggest his age is biologically, based on his physical and mental health.
Grossman is also remarkably calm and collected for someone who spends three busy days a week looking after patients at his medical practice and the other two days in his home office writing books. But that's the way he is: ardent about control, down to every crease of his button-down shirts and slacks, every well-coiffed thread of his hair.