Overheard at a wedding 5 years ago: when you reach your seventies somehow it all starts to go to shit. All the stuff that came so easy before becomes harder and you just don’t bounce back like you used to. .
My husband turned seventy-three last week. Coincidentally, on his birthday, he had an appointment with the orthopaedist to see if a cortisone shot might alleviate the ache in his right hip that he has endured for the past two years and had become increasingly worse over the summer. His daily five-mile walk on our town’s boardwalk was now an exercise in Jack vs. pain rather than the pleasant early a.m. jaunt where he’s made a cadre of friends who like him, like to rise at dawn and swap stories while they get in their daily exercise. I’d noticed him limping more, wincing as he rose from a chair or picking up one of our one year-old twin grandchildren. I’d been surprised when my stoic and stubborn husband had sought out treatment rather than accepting what he’d accepted for the past three years when his previous primary care physician told him his hip hurt because he had ‘sagging buttocks.’ ( welcome to my world husband)
My text pinged as I got out of my own exercise, my daily barre class where I too have made new friends and community. You’re not going to believe this. Dr. says I have to have hip replacement. Appointment with surgeon on October 4. Whoa.. what?
So while not earth shattering or life altering (we hope) this seems to be another new normal of aging: your plans get put on hold while you wait to find out next steps. Today is September twenty-sixth so we have another 8 days before we meet with the surgeon (‘we’ because that’s another thing you do as you age: you go to major doctor appointments together so there is another set of ears in the room. FYI: bring a notebook too) So far we have had to cancel a much-anticipated weekend in Vermont to celebrate our fortieth wedding anniversary with our children and the jury is out on whether we’ll make it to two weddings in mid-October. ( note to karma : please don’t let my fabulous dress go to waste ) You’ve got to grab a surgery appointment when you can. There is no ‘let’s wait until after…’
As I write this my own seventieth birthday is looming in October as well. I feel.. fine-ish about it. Fine because-well crap what’s the alternative? -Ish because yes, what were little twinges in my joints before, can quickly evolve into full-on pain that is not easily shaken off, in spite of what Taylor Swift exhorts. The facials and ‘treatments’ (read Botox and Juvederm) don’t seem to be as effective and God knows I don’t want to cross that line into whispers behind my back.. ‘she’s had too much.’ At my last doctor’s appointment the medical assistant noted my height as 4’11”. Oh HELL no!-I crossed that out and wrote 5’ because I KNOW she measured wrong.
What’s that word? What did you say? Why do I want a nap? Where did I put that? Why did I walk in here?.. There are dozens of different daily assaults-err reminders- that this aging process is real and is taking a toll that I need to constantly be on guard for. Laughing and (light) self-deprecation and commiserating with friends help. So does treating myself with kindness but not letting that devolve into self-pity.
In the meantime I have had to type this essay with two fingers because the arthritis in my wrists has made a full hand QWERTY an impossibility. After I finish I need to do some neck exercises to stave off the dowager’s hump. And then I think I will take that nap.