Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Welcome to Middle Age...

In response to this - Welcome to middle age. If you get here without an 'interesting' medical history, you haven't lived enough - ItsJustMe wrote:

I've heard that a few times. I have to respectfully disagree, to some extent. I'm just starting into middle-aged at 42, so I may be speaking prematurely, but I really have no health concerns, no chronic pain, I take no meds, I do what I feel like and don't hurt the next day. I eat whatever I feel like, neither gain nor lose weight, and my blood numbers are all on the low side of nominal.

I feel at least as good now as I did when I was 20. I feel like I've been active and do everything I want; skiing, cycling, hiking, camping, etc. I've done my share of stupid stuff. I've never broken any bones, even with all the idiotic crud I did while growing up on a farm and climbing dangerous places.

Some people just are lucky in their combination of genetics and in picking the right dumb stuff to do that doesn't break limbs, or in just not being clumsy at the wrong time.

Reading around here, it seems I should go out and find something really stupid and dangerous to do so that I can have broken bones and chronic pain, because then I "will have lived."

While pain is certainly part of life, I don't think how much physical pain you've managed to dole out for yourself by a certain age is necessarily a good measure of how much you've enjoyed life so far.

Somtimes, I try to write something light and funny, but it falls flat.

I certainly wouldn't advocate that someone go out and do something both dangerous and stupid, just to have some good stories or interesting scars. It's true I have some dumb days, but never THAT dumb. I do have a bunch of interesting scars, though, and I can play the scar story game pretty well. Not that I could beat Quint in "Jaws" with his story about the Indianapolis.

Mary and I both live with chronic pain, hers due to an adult form of muscular dystrophy, mine mostly due to a car crash back in 1983. A teenage driver was showing off for his buddies, lost control, and slammed into my friend's car. I was in the passenger seat, the classic innocent bystander. Both legs and one arm were broken. I can forecast the weather pretty well these days!

I'm aching because of the front that went through here this morning. But the best part is that when I ride, the pain is gone. I feel best when I'm outside doing something. It could be a bike ride, a walk around the neighborhood, or doing yard chores. Even at work, I'm up and down from my chair, walking along my bench, and generally moving a lot to keep my muscles loose. I think that staying active is far more important than we realize. Mild activity helps push the pain aside. We all know people who performed hard manual labor right up until retirement. They stay mentally sharp and physically active as long as possible. My own uncle, for instance, is in his 80s and he could probably still work me into the ground.

There's a group I see riding past the maintenance base now and then. It's the Tulsa Bicycle Club, out for one of their weekday rides. There's a lot of gray hair in the bunch! They're mostly retirees who meet somewhere, ride out for lunch, and ride back. I've joined them on a few weekend rides. They're not fast, but they go out in all sorts of weather.

When I retire, I want to be able to do things like that, and the key to being active after retirement is to be active before retirement. Sure, I have some bad days when I'm aching and miserable, but on the whole, I feel better by riding or walking whenever possible. Too many of my co-workers have retired and sat on the couch, unable or unwilling to go out and be active. Some others have retired in order to do something they feel passionately about. I ran into one of those guys a few months ago. He said he doesn't know how he got anything done while he was still working. He's that busy!

So while I may whine and moan about these aches and pains, I wouldn't wish them on anyone. I'm almost always hurting somewhere, but the pain is something I've learned to live with. It usually responds to a little heat or ibuprofen. And it's not like I have many alternatives. Please don't take that as a statement of depressing resignation. Pain doesn't drag me down into depression. Its just something I have, an itch that I can't scratch.


Blogger Fritz said...

"Sometimes that shark looks right at ya. Right into your eyes. And the thing about a shark is he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, he doesn't even seem to be livin'... 'til he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then... ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin'. The ocean turns red, and despite all your poundin' and your hollerin' those sharks come in and... they rip you to pieces. You know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men. I don't know how many sharks there were, maybe a thousand. I do know how many men, they averaged six an hour. Thursday mornin', Chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player. Boson's mate. I thought he was asleep. I reached over to wake him up. He bobbed up, down in the water, he was like a kinda top. Upended. Well, he'd been bitten in half below the waist. At noon on the fifth day, a Lockheed Ventura swung in low and he spotted us, a young pilot, lot younger than Mr. Hooper here, anyway he spotted us and a few hours later a big ol' fat PBY come down and started to pick us up. You know that was the time I was most frightened. Waitin' for my turn. I'll never put on a lifejacket again. So, eleven hundred men went into the water. 316 men come out, the sharks took the rest, June the 29th, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb."

11:24 AM  

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