Aging: Does the Golden Age Have a Silver Lining?
As soon as I walked in the door, I dropped the wet grocery bags in the sink, started some water boiling, and changed from my rain soaked clothes to a faded gray sweatsuit and thick socks. I set my wallet on the table to dry out. Then the phone rang... it was the doctor’s office; worse than I expected. After hanging up, I plopped down in front of the fireplace with a cup of coffee. Slouching there, I tried to look for the silver lining; I tried to be philosophical about everything. I sighed and wished it were a real fireplace, not just gas logs. I sipped the last of my coffee and looked at the fake logs – I really should order some fuel for the tank and learn how to operate the dang thing. An actual fire might comfort me somehow. Maybe tomorrow. Right now I have other things on my mind.
The chain of events started on Monday, November 8, a week and four days ago. I got tired of an unfriendly pain in my mouth when I drank anything so I finally saw the dentist. There was good news and bad. The good news: no cavity. The bad news: I would just have to live with it. “It happens when we get older,” the old goat said with sympathetic eyes as he set my x-rays down. But I'm not old, only 43...
One week ago, on the twelfth, I visited the optometrist to carry Larry, the elderly man I care for. I decided to have my own eyes checked too because I was having headaches. Come to find out, not only did I need glasses, they tried to talk me into bifocals. No way dude, that's for old fogies. After all, I’m only 43! I ordered the regular set.
Five days ago, on Monday, I got worried about a strange sensation so I went to my General Practitioner. The symptoms were: painfully sore nipples (They look normal but hurt on the inside), lethargy, and weight gain. A skinny new assistant gave me the immediate diagnosis of obesity and high blood pressure. He then said that my blood pressure issues were due to my weight; he made very sure I understood that I was not just overweight; I was officially and egally obese. It seemed to worry him that it might not come across in his communication that I was obese. He explained the height to weight ratio and showed me the chart. I was certain he was going to have me spell it with him (O-B-E-S-E) while I looked in a mirror. I managed to change the subject; I never thought I would be so glad to start talking about my own tender nipples.
He asked to look. I hesitated at first: “Just relax and trust me,” he said. It was all very odd. I lifted my shirt up and this weasely guy grabbed my nipples and poked and prodded and pinched. A tear came down my cheek from the actual pain. I imagined that it would have looked to a third party ( except for me being a hairy fat guy) like a heart-broken, down on my luck, run-away virgin being cast for her first “big break.” He didn't find anything obvious, so he ordered some blood work. A nurse came in for the sample. While she drew blood, he watched her work and made a face like I make when I watch fat being liposuctioned in one of those TV shows. I looked down at the syringe. By his expression, I expected my blood to be waxy gray with a tint of red, but it looked normal to me. He sent some blood away to the lab for analysis. He’d call me with the results in a few days. “You're not as young as used to be...” he said as I left.
Three days ago, I returned to the optometrist’s shop to pick up my glasses. The crispness of all creation amazed me, until I got home and looked in the mirror. OH MY GOD! How did I get to look like this? I had hair growing out of everywhere; my ears looked like a piece of sticky candy that a kid had dropped underneath the barber’s chair. And my nose...Tarzan could swing from nostril to nostril on the smaller hairs, ones he could get a grip on. It took me half a day and a change of batteries in my trimmer to get rid of the fuzz. Then, I noticed “old man bumps” on me, the same kind of red bumps I always noticed when I saw Grandpa with his shirt off! The more I looked, the more things I found, and soon was so depressed I had to lay down, turn the TV way up loud, and eat a bag of fun- sized Baby Ruths.
Today I got the phone call about my blood work. I have high cholesterol (no surprise) – but the second thing, as they say, was the icing on the cake. Turns out, I have what a current TV commercial smoothes over as “Low T.” That explains a lot now that I think about it. Low testosterone. I feel like less than a man. Maybe this is what some women feel like when they hit menopause? Old, useless, weak? Yet, I thought all this stuff happened gradually. Instead, it seems that life has pushed me down, has straddled my chest and is slapping me. “Look at me,” it says, “you are old.” It slaps me again. “Say it... say, ‘you're old.’ SAY IT!”
I know I really need to go put up the groceries, but right now all I manage to do is sit here and pout and think about the electric 'old fart' scooter looming in my near future. I want it to be white to match my Velcro shoes, sport a bright orange flag, have a custom- made over-size pill box and the biggest motor they make to haul my fat ass around fast. Oh yeah, and a vanity license plate that reads: ONLY 43!