Aging should be for wine, cheese, and balsamic vinegar, not people. My mother used to tell me not to get old but she didn’t tell me how to avoid it. If she knew she surely would have used every trick she could lay her hands on. She fought it kicking and screaming. She used to say, ”Getting old isn’t for sissies.” I’m beginning to understand what she meant. She also said, “Getting old stinks but it’s better than the alternative.” I always understood what that meant but now I’m not so sure I agree with her. Not in every case anyway. Now that I’m getting old I’m desperately trying to reverse the process. I’m spending a fortune on anti-aging creams but all they do is make you feel greasy. Lubrication is good I suppose. I still look like parchment but don’t crack quite as much.
Being retired is looked upon by the young as Nirvana. Nothing to do and all day long to do it. I must admit that’s what it was like at first. Plenty of time to do whatever I wanted. Unfortunately it didn’t last long. Pretty soon I was spending time making repeated trips to the store to get things I forgot the first time. Then I started making lists, which I forgot to bring. Then I started to remember the lists but there is always something I don’t write down because it is such a necessity I know I won’t forget it. Ha! By the time I get home I’m exhausted and need to take a nap. I’m retired for heaven’s sake. I don’t do anything. Why should I need naps? And if I don’t get my nap why am I so cranky? You’d think I was a toddler instead of a sophisticated, urbane woman of sixty five.
Soon your health starts to slip. Most of the people I meet on the ferry are going off Island to a doctor’s appointment. Along with all the normal requirements to stay healthy, mammogram, colonoscopy, cholesterol checks, etc. aging adds a lot of neurotic worries. Palpitations? Everyone has them but at my age what do they mean? I made the mistake of asking my doctor. After an EKG, cardiology consult, cardiac ultrasound, 7 day heart monitor, and a trip to Boston for a nuclear stress test, all of which cost approximately $11,000, I got a message on my answering machine from the cardiologist that there was no organic cause for my palpitations so I shouldn’t worry about them. Is that supposed to soothe me?
I have developed a terrible fear of falling. You have no idea how hard this is for someone who used to ski, ice skate and dance every chance I got. You’d think this fear would come after a fall. No. This fear came from watching too many commercials for new osteoporosis medications. Aging boomers have become a target of the pharmaceutical industry. If you don’t have it they’ll convince you you’re going to get it; probably sooner than later.
I can’t wear high heels any more due to plantar fasciitis and a Morton’s Neuroma. If I drink wine with dinner I doze off during the evening news. And then when I do go to bed I toss and turn and get up with the birds. Speaking of dinner--the old digestion isn’t what it used to be. I’m practically back to Gerber unless I want to be up all night with GERD, something we used to call heartburn.
Nobody warns you that these things are going to happen. That everything will change and things that were good for you when you were young are now poison. Ice cream for instance. When you’re a kid it’s good for you, loaded with calcium and protein. When you get old it’s full of cholesterol, sugar and fat which will kill you. The same with peanut butter and jelly which I wouldn’t touch when it was good for me but now I crave it like water in the desert.
My mother used to admire my hands. I couldn’t figure out why. Now that my body has settled into its self destructive mode I see all the things she used to fret about. What she used to call liver spots I prefer to call sun spots and if I had known what I was going to look like I would have worn a burka every time I left the house. I was never a sun worshiper but even the little exposure I got took it’s toll.
I had a cataract removed last week. The upside is I can see clearly without glasses. The downside? I’m going to have to spend more time cleaning my house.