21 December 2008

Observations on Getting Old

Yesterday I got up with every intention of doing some quick reading on-line and then getting to the chores for which I have fallen woefully behind. Woefully is an understatement. Between work, being poked and prodded by various doctors and being on the cusp of one viral illness or another, I am exhausted. I need to dust, vacuum, iron, do laundry, mop floors... the whole bit. So, when my sister called and asked if I wanted to go to Costco with her, I said yes without hesitation.

My sister has been going through it. She is trying to rescue her parents from 2400 miles away, providing them with the most graceful, comfortable and respectful ends to their lives. She had just flown back from California and we were both in need of some sister time. Before I left, I mentioned in my favorite chat channel that I was headed for an adventure and one of my dear cyber-siblings bade me farewell and told me to come home and write on my blog. I have to say that gave me a double blessing. I got to see my sister and someone I love and respect misses my ramblings here. Now, he may have been being kind- but it worked. I felt all connected and appreciated and isn't that the point of kindness?

This time in my life has me making all sorts of observations about transitions. Some of them might border on TMI, but you'll just have to deal.

I came home one day to find a message from the nurse of one of my new doctors. First observation: One little near death experience and although I haven't been to a doctor in 5 years, suddenly I have 5 different doctors that each want to evaluate aspects of my health. This is how elderly folks get started. One day they were fine. Next day they have a NDE and that opens the door to doctors and their tests. You wake up one day and suddenly your kitchen cupboard is full of prescription medications.

Second observation. When a doctor's office or nurse calls and you're not expecting them to, your mind immediately goes to bad news. The routine tests they have done have found some dreaded disease. When you call and the nurse tells you that before your next appointment the doctor would like you to have a chest x-ray, it's because you have lung cancer. You know it. You knew if you let just one doctor in they would all want to have a disease to work on and now they are searching for them without your having had symptoms or complaints. Chest x-rays? That's lung cancer or tuberculosis for certain. You try to talk yourself down. If the doctor saw something in the neck x-rays she ordered that was problematic, would she allow you to wait three weeks before coming in to see her? Probably not. Sounds like you have a doctor that wants to be a good health partner and advocate. Take a deep breath, calm down and you might as well go get the x-rays done.

Third observation- for women only. There is a magic time in a woman's life when comfort is more important than fashion. Oh sure, you want to maintain your femininity but you are no longer prepared to torture your body to achieve that 'youthful' feminine look. Ladies you know what I mean. No more kill your feet high heels, no more tummy control constrictive devices and no more bras with stiff underwires and metal stays. It sort of sneaks up on you as little by little you make more comfortable choices and then one day, as you are going in to have chest x-rays for your new doctor, it hits you. You have taken off your bra for the films to be made and as you're getting dressed you realize that things are in the same place they were both before and after you put your clothes on. There's no more worrying about lifting and separating, it's about modest propriety and comfort. I say we need to enjoy this time. This is our most empowering moment because we consciously choose comfort and femininity. Too soon we will care less about the femininity part. We'll know when that hits because we will have our stockings rolled down on our legs, while wearing 'house coats' and tennis shoes in public. The next stage is carrying lots of coins in a coin purse and paying for $25.78 of groceries (consisting mostly of cat food or tuna) by picking out the correct number of quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies at glacial speeds. I only hope that knowing I am so close to this stage will give me a new patience for those who have bravely gone before me.

Psalm 71:18-19
18 And even when {I am} old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Thy strength to {this} generation, Thy power to all who are to come.
19 For Thy righteousness, O God, {reaches} to the heavens, Thou who hast done great things; O God, who is like Thee?

Proverbs 16:31
31 A gray head is a crown of glory; it is found in the way of righteousness.

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