Five Things that Go to Hell after Fifty
You're probably familiar with the expression in the above photo, and for the most part I have to agree. At forty I was in the best physical shape ever, having lost a bunch of weight thru diet and walking every day. I didn't get sick with even a cold for an entire year! It seems like once I rolled past that magic number my body began to fall apart, and after 50 it only got worse. In the spirit of Five on Friday I present five ways my body has turned on me in recent years...
1. I've worn glasses since I was 17 so I'm used to them, despite them being a pain in the butt cuz they seem to attract dirt, dust, and fingerprints thus frequently requiring cleaning. Somewhere around 40 I "graduated" to bi-focals so I could continue to read voraciously without going blind. By 50 I was needing tri-focals so that I could drive, read and spend hours staring at the computer screen. When you first get bi-focals they drive you nuts, but you soon adjust. Tri-focals are no different. The only problem is when you are walking and look down, such as on steps - they tend to distort your depth perception and I have very little of that to begin with. Steps are now a scary adventure! I've tried the "Invisiline" versions and although they look great, they don't work worth a damn, so I settle for the "uber-glam" kind with obvious lens divisions, but what the hell, I wasn't planning to try out for covergirl anyway. I've tried having different pairs for driving/reading/computer too, but constantly changing glasses throughout the day drove me nuts. Now it's gotten to the point that I can't read the tiny squiggles of text on my iPhone without my glasses, so they have to be on the bedside table at night in case I receive a very important text... or want to check the latest blog updates as they pop in! :-)
2. Most people's ability to hear well diminishes as they get older, but mine was obviously not cutting it in my early 40's. I worked with a bunch of women who tend to gossip in whispers and I'm a lousy lip reader so often ended up smiling or laughing along with the group, though I had no idea what they said. It was probably about me! The doctor told me my hearing loss is quite possibly the result of chemical poisoning. More about that later. I got hearing aids, and hated them, more background noise than I could stand. So I tossed them in the drawer for a few years.
By 55 it got to the point that I couldn't understand phone calls or conversations clearly enough to perform my job duties so I swallowed my pride and back to the audiologist I went. I now sport hi-tech hearing aids that cost well over $5000, and live in fear that some dumb ass will push me in a pool and short them out! They are insured of course, but being without them for any period of time is torturous. It's like living in a muffled world similar to having stopped up ears when you have a cold. Every now and then one of them experiences problems and has to be sent in for repairs, for that week I have to function with one "good" ear at work, and it's maddening and so very frustrating!
I didn't realize how much I couldn't hear anymore until I got them. When they are out at night I can't hear the cats meowing at the door, and probably wouldn't hear someone who broke in and removed half of our possessions. I don't have them in on Saturdays when I am home alone, since I don't need to hear well then, I can enjoy my quiet world. Being dependent on them is another blow to the ego and another pain in the arse. Hearing aids aren't a perfect answer either - sharp sounds, whistling, and loud background noises like a blaring tv make me cover my ears! Not being able to hear clearly in noisy situations doesn't help my social anxieties either.
3. I don't recall having allergies as a child, although my older sister was plagued with them. But by my thirties I began to experience problems with strong perfumes and hairspray - much to the delight of my teenage daughter who would bomb her room and the car with said aerosols. Surprising she lived to see 20, but karma happens, and now she has the same problem with people wearing perfume at work!
By 40 I was experiencing problems with plant pollen, dust mites, and cleaning chemicals, and by 50 I was breaking out in hives from external chemical exposure and an array of food substances, not yet completely identified. Chocolate makes my throat itch, but no - that doesn't stop me from eating it. Probably not until I end up in an emergency room from overdoing it someday! I am also allergic to black and white pepper which are in many things, and we're still trying to figure out the rest. When I eat something "wrong" it not only makes me cough and itch, it makes my ears block up, gives me indigestion, and intestinal issues and sometimes increases my heart rate - really "fun". We use fragrance free/dry free everything at home, and my beloved Papa Bear must put on his wonderful Armani Code cologne after I leave for work. By nighttime it has worn off enough for me to enjoy just a whiff left on his skin but at first it gives me terrible headaches if I'm near it. I can actually taste fragrances, and they don't taste good!
Not surprisingly, asthma came on the heals of increased allergic reactions. Allergies are one of the common asthma attack triggers, along with stress, excitement, exercise, and cold. I now take a high-powered asthma medication that costs $300 per month without insurance. My health insurance for my new job kicks in May 1st, thankfully!! In the mean time I've been reducing the amount I take cuz that is beyond our budget. I can sympathize now with elders on fixed incomes who can't afford their meds.
4. There there is the sore, creaky joints caused by osteoarthritis, and the painful muscles and chronic fatigue of fibromyalgia. When I walk down the hallway at work you can hear my knees and ankles going snap-snap-snap! If I push a vacuum cleaner for 30 minutes, or get down on my knees to scrub a floor, I'll barely be able to move the next day. Thread crochet and writing letters by hand are now out of the question, but thankfully my hands and fingers still tolerate the hours spent daily at the keyboard fairly well! Walking the half-block across the slightly inclined parking lot to our office building in the morning is a slow process, it takes awhile for my joints to get moving, and I feel like a snail as the young folks pass me by.
5. Last but not the least of the indignities suffered in my 50's is waking up one day to find my mom's hands attached to my arms, and my dad's drooping eyelids looking back at me in the mirror!! I remember those features so well in their older years and now I see that I look exactly the same. The aging process is gradual so you don't really notice it until one day and the shock hits you. My skin has lost it's elasticity and is getting that crepe paper feel. Just lovely!
So what is one to do, but to grow old gracefully, accepting that these things are part of the cycle of life... we are born, we live, we age, we die. No amount of plastic wizardry can erase the tell-tale signs, and they have yet to discover the famed fountain of youth. Those who try too hard to retain their 30-something appearance often overdo it end up looking totally ridiculous. I don't mind aging really, I have no desire to be 21 again, and I do realize how blessed I am that these are the worst of my complaints and problems, it could be so so much worse! I'm not throwing a pity party here, just stating the facts... after 50 the body goes to hell! It sure is too bad we can't requisition factory replacement parts!! I was going to add that my mind remains sharp and fully functional, but I fear there are some who would beg to disagree! :-)
Happy Friday everyone, I'm headed out to Cracker Barrel with the Papa Bear to enjoy our traditional Friday night fare. Have a great weekend, and remember to count your blessings! No matter how many things in your life aren't exactly as you wish they were, look around and see that you still have some wonderful blessings to be thankful for!