I talk to my mom on the phone at least five times a week. Ok, if I’m being honest, probably more and sometimes a couple times a day isn’t unheard of depending on what’s going on in my life. It’s awesome, and most of our conversations revolve around family matters, what the grandchildren are up to, what travels are being undertaken and the positive living of lives. However, my parents are in their seventies and live in a community which is predominantly older. In other words, my dad is one of the last guys around and does a ton of handy man work for the widowed ladies in the neighborhood. From what I understand, he’s the best thing since sliced bread.
Of course, because of their ages and the ages of their neighbors, I also hear A LOT about what physical ailments have most recently been added to an ever increasing list. This part can be a bit of a bummer, because I don’t like hearing that my parents are slowly falling apart piece by piece, and I don’t like to think about what might be ahead for me. I remind myself that I’m only 52 and I’m in pretty good shape. My generation has taken better care of ourselves and I’ve always been active.
But then, almost exactly as my mother described, IT started to happen.
I swear on my 50th birthday, the wheels began to fall off when suddenly I couldn’t read the texts on my phone. A wonderful friend showed me how to increase the font size. It was a revelation. Then I started to pay more attention to our conversations and realized that instead of talking about the crazy lady in the carpool, or Johnny’s crappy lacrosse coach, we were discussing hip pain, and creaky necks, hot flashes and plantar fasciitis. People were getting hysterectomies and all types of bone fusions, and new knees. Our lives were becoming a calendar full of colonoscopies, bone density tests, gum disease prevention, new contact prescriptions and physical therapy appointments.
My day started to look like this:
7:30 am: Rise. Well slowly. Do assessment. Stiff neck. Left heel hits floor. Ouch. Breasts killing me and make me feel like I’m 8 weeks pregnant. Not possible, so who knows. But I do feel like I could feed triplets for a week. Haven’t had a period in 3 months…or more, who can remember? Grab glasses from bedside table. Pull on sweatshirt and sweatpants. Be careful not to wrench neck. Make coffee, but only half caff, so as to prevent the hotflashes and palpitations.
9:00: Sit down at table to eat. Grab smoothie…but only drink half because we must balance nutritional value of all those fruits in one drink with high calorie and sugar content. Make an egg because suddenly they are your friend again and cholesterol doesn’t seem to be an issue. NO BREAD. Goes straight to the peri- menopausal ass.
10:30: Sit down to write. Place pillow on straight- backed or preferably ergonomically correct chair. Elevate arms to proper height to protect from the nerve damage you seem to have gotten from sitting in a chair too low which caused the neck pain that has since made your fingers numb and sent you to the ER sure you were having a heart attack. Work for one hour. Stand up and stretch. Do physical therapy neck exercises every two hours no matter where you happen to be. (You should see me at the A&P. I’m deadly serious about my neck exercises).
11:30: Get on treadmill. However, due to neck injury you have just learned that the treadmill can not be at ANY incline and you may not run. Why bother? Because I love food and alcohol, that’s why. Put on specially designed sneakers with insert to protect from plantar fasciitis. Find good sports bra to hold up your so engorged breasts that you look like Kate Upton. Turn on “Scandal.” Walk…
12:15: Do cool down and stretch. Not even sweating…Stretching is suddenly extremely painful. Can no longer touch toes. Feel something pop in upper hamstring on right leg. Great.
12:30: Have lunch. NO BREAD. Stand at refrigerator and make deals with self to only eat a few cheetos. And no they don’t count as bread because seriously, do they look like bread? Repeat neck exercises.
1:30: Call mom. Hear about the number of ambulances that were called in her neighborhood that day. Ask how dad’s cardiologist appointment went. See how her two replaced knees are holding up. Wonder when that day will come for you.
2:30: Ok, so we talked for an hour. Contemplate why neck hurts so much again. Maybe because it’s been cradling the phone for an hour? Do some more exercises and promise self to buy a headset for the phone. I guess we have gotten to that point.
3:00: Do some laundry. Can’t carry basket due to neck and referred shoulder pain and numb fingers. Throw clothes down the stairs. Hold railing on the way down while listening to knees crack on each step. Think, “that can’t be good.”
4:00: Back on phone with friend whose mother is in hospice, whose dog is dying and who has just been to the ER for stress- induced racing heart and high blood pressure. Now on blood pressure medication. Get beeped on the phone from other friend back from hospital after colonoscopy she scheduled due to about 6 weeks of unexplained diarrhea.
5:00: Prepare a hot soaking tub for ingrown toenail from last week’s pedicure. Really??? Pour beer. Best thing that has happened to me all day. I don’t care….or want to hear it.
6:30: Make salad with some barbecue chicken on top. Yogurt dressing. Yum. Contemplate a second beer.
8:00: Place ergonomically correct chair in family room as couch is a big NO NO for me now. Seems to have absolutely nothing supportive about it. Do more neck exercises. Try to survive watching “Survivor” with straight back and pulled in neck. Agony. Watch husband eat cookie. Hate him. Suck on a tootsie pop which may have been enjoyable if it didn’t bother the neck from all the sucking.
9:00: Brush teeth, place Crest Whitestrips appropriately. Put antibiotic cream on toe. Place eye cream carefully so as not to cause the eyelash to get infected causing disfiguring and hideous chalazion experienced on the eye for the entire trip to Europe last May. Apply anti- rosacea cream to nose so as not to look like Rudolph, put on lip stuff, apply body lotion everywhere as skin looks like the alligator you saw on the golf course when you went to South Carolina to escape the northeast winter and it rained and was cold the whole time you were there.
9:30: Get into bed because there is nothing good on TV and you like the book you are reading now. Open Kindle. Grab glasses, increase font size…again. Prop up head wondering if the pillow you are using is actually putting your neck out of alignment and ruining all the so- called progress you’ve made today doing 10,000 neck rolls. Slowly….slowly…slowly let lower back sink into mattress and wonder if mattress you love is really just too hard.
11:30: Snort yourself awake. Damn sleeping on back again. Not good.
1:47: Gotta pee. Shouldn’t have had the beer. Make way to toilet. Knees crack and wake up husband. Heel hurts. Fall down onto toilet. Yup, there’s that hamstring problem.
3:30: Awaken to full body sweat and soaked through t-shirt. Damn. Get up to change. Frozen solid and breasts are screaming for those triplets.
5:30: Awaken to panic that you haven’t heard if your daughter’s plane landed.
6:30: Still up wondering what color to paint hall of new house.
So, what’s your day like now that you’ve gotten to a certain age?
I am a married, stay at home mom of three whom after 25 years of dedicated service has been deserted by my kids for greener pastures. Having always had an opinion and never being shy about expressing it, I thought it was time to write about things rather than yell them from the back of PTA meetings. With the coop flown, it’s just a hen and her rooster going it alone.
Visit my blog at www.theflowncoop.com!