Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Suck It Up Cupcake


I used to believe growing older would be like living on the set of the Golden Girls. Spry, sassy women, active in their community, sexually active with the men in their lives, and living a life gracefully, oh and with massive shoulder pads  Very massive. 

I've watched my mother in law age nary a complaint in any given day of her life.  I had hoped it could be like that.  Alas, but it isn't.

I know I'm not alone either.  I recall as a child listening to my grandparents as they listed their aches and pains, seemingly intent on outdoing each other.  I have listened to my high school friends complain about various ailments as they age right there along with me I have even watched my parents combat their own issues through the years.  As I deal with my own aging, I  have come to the conclusion that growing old really sucks a wad. There is just no way to sugarcoat this. 

Last Saturday, on my parent's 55th wedding anniversary, my 74 year old mother hurt her knee, perhaps twisting it the wrong way.  After sitting for a while it was very painful and by dinner out with friends it was excruciating.  My dad took her to the emergency clinic and there was so much swelling, the x-ray was inconclusive.  She was given a full leg brace and told to ice it until she could see a specialist.  This morning she called to let me know it was much better and she was walking normally again.  She is still going to see the specialist, but for this news I am truly thankful.

It seems my brother and I stagger our own vacations around visiting our parents to assist with their ailments and chores that are needed around the house.  He's up next month, I'll be up a couple months after that.  As Gilda Radner's Saturday Night Live character Rosanne Rosannadanna always used to say, "It's always something." 

Last summer my parents had to miss my son's graduation because my dad was having disc problems in his lower back which had deteriorated over a couple months from him walking normally, to walking with a cane, to walking with a walker and soon he would be headed for a wheelchair. Thankfully surgery was able to correct the situation and he is nearly back to normal.  At 82, he displayed far more courage, grace, and patience dealing with his pain than I do my own. In his 60s, the man had both knees replaced at the same time and was up and walking the next day.  What a trooper.

On the eve of my annual with the family doctor, a kind and devout Muslim I have seen for years, and my gynecologist, the woman who delivered both of my sons and quite literally knows me inside and out, I lament my own arthritic body, even tearing up over the permanency of some of the bullet points I went over with my husband. I contemplate living each painful winter after winter with this for the rest of my life, decades I presume, and the reality of it all is a bit overwhelming.  I suppose I could one up my dad since it is different than battling disc issues which often can be fixed.  There is no surgery that can fix my ailment, so I use a modified aerobic exercise program now and have added a round of late night stretching to my routine because it makes me feel better as I lie in bed, especially the stretching part which is almost as good as sex some nights. 

I suppose it's time to suck it up cupcake.  If I cannot handle this one thing at age 49,  how will I handle all the other ailments of aging at 74 or even 82? Growing old sucks, but I am going to do my best to fight it every step of the way.  At least I will keep the makers of Aleve in business anyway.