Ageing-The Truths you’d Rather not Know

I have kept quite well to my promise not to produce a continuous blog documenting the woes of ageing-an unceasing fountain spurting hypochondria; but I realise I may have gained some kind of watershed where age is concerned-one that may never be drawn back from.

Since I entered the grand decade that is my sixties significant and not altogether beneficial changes have begun to manifest, which I feel are relevant to Anecdotage and the Views from the Descent. For, from here it really does begin to feel like a descent.

Google ‘ageing’ and you will be bombarded with information and opinion. Often, in publications such as Sunday supplements there will be interviews with older celebrities- in any sphere. It interests me that the overwhelming majority of ageing ‘celebs’ are anxious to stress the positive aspects of growing older-how much more experienced they are, how much happier than when young, how grounded, how advantageous it all is. Reader, I am more than suspicious of these people. To me they are missing one overriding, enormous elephant of a fact. However blessed, fortunate, experienced and ecstatic they feel, the spectre of death has not only appeared on the horizon but grows larger as it approaches.

Of course as we all know-it is best to ignore the scythe-bearing one and concentrate on living life to the best of our frailties, but still-aspects of one’s demise will keep popping their heads over the balcony, such as:

Things Hurt More than they Used to

Joints hurt. Old injuries hurt. Vague unidentifiable bits hurt. In an ironic twist [the reaper having a laugh?] many of the hurty bits have been caused in younger incarnations by enthusiastic bouts of fitness.

The Hurty Bits Take Longer to Stop Hurting

Related to above; whereas a familiar, old hip/back tweak used to come and stay for a few days, now it overstays by weeks. An intermittent back injury overstays. Wrists that used to be a little sore are aggravated by carrying anything heavier than a sheet of paper. It becomes tricky finding a comfortable position to sleep, sit or be.

Knowing you are Turning into Your Parents does not Stop you Turning into Them

All the traps you have sworn not to fall into are impossible to avoid-repeating yourself, telling hackneyed stories, being curmudgeonly et al.

Those you have Known begin to Shuffle off the Mortal Coil

Once he became elderly my father began every visit with a tale of who had died that week. In his absence we smiled about it. Now that the clogs of people in my own life are popping it no longer carries the comic appeal it once did. No doubt my offspring are benefitting as I did.

The Recession of Middle Age

Remember all that ’40 is the new 30’ thing? We like to stretch our age back into youth as far as possible. I considered I was ‘middle-aged’ up until I was 60. Then it became far-fetched. Maybe someone could invent a term for between middle-aged and elderly, like ‘milderly’? Except it sounds like mildew-which is actually quite appropriate.

These are just a few aspects of ageing. Perhaps you harbour some more? Add them in the comments and I’ll compile a ‘bottom 10’-you have to laugh-what else can you do?

Confession of a Hypocrite

                Anyone who has followed Anecdotage since the start will know what my opinions are on the National Health Service. It was a wonderful concept and is a precious resource to be preserved at all costs. I still think this. But after eight months of crippling heel pain and having followed all instructions as to exercise [no impact, stretch the Achilles, roll the instep, bottle of ice] and having exhausted all the options the NHS can offer [ultrasound and steroid jabs], I am now faced with waiting yet another 6 weeks to see a specialist or going against my principles and seeing someone privately.

                I wouldn’t be doing this but for the facts that: a] I have yet to see the same GP twice regarding the problem, b] I have had to return to the GP surgery despite the physio’s recommendation for referral and c] The latest locum doctor-a young man called Sergei, handed me some sheets printed from a website with information I had ingested many months ago at the start of my own research and d] He concluded this brief consultation by shrugging his shoulders, indicating in no uncertain terms that he is unable, unwilling and uninterested in the difficulty.

                Of course I do understand that the condition is not life threatening. It is neither high profile [as, for instance, cancer] nor unusual. It is, however debilitating, painful, miserable, quality-of-life depriving and impacts hugely on overall fitness. If you are unable to exercise over a prolonged period you become unfit. Does it not make sense to enable people to exercise and thus keep themselves as healthy as possible?

                In a similar, parallel action I succumbed to my long-held, shallow, frivolous desire for whiter teeth by setting up an appointment with my own National Health dentist. Motivated by an approaching wedding, I was unaware that a certain amount of time would be needed to complete this cosmetic treatment, so waited one week for an assessment appointment to be told there was not enough time!

                I rang a local private practice. ‘Of course!’ affirmed the receptionist immediately-‘and we have a special offer for April!’ Result! My appointment was next day. I sank into a soft, leather armchair and watched TV until called. I was offered tea [rejected due to having clean teeth]. The dentist took photos-‘Yes-there is still time!’ BUT [of course there is a ‘but’] you will need this, this and this done before the process can begin’. This, this and this, naturally, cost stadium proportions of money. Still-there is TV on the ceiling above my head where I lie in the chair, Robert [the smiley dentist] and Lara [the smiley nurse] are friendly and reassuring. ‘Bread’ plays quietly in the background. It’s just as well it is comfortable, given that I will be spending almost as much time there as at home next week, that is, except for the sessions at Physiotherapy having my heel pummelled.

                So there! My principles are compromised. What is a health hypocrite to do these days?               


It’s Torture on the Trail and Suffering in the Saddle…

                In the doomed interests of resurrecting my bicycle fitness, my personal cycle trainer, [aka Husband] has begun the general cajoling, wheedling, persuading, justifying, soothing and encouraging needed to get me back into the saddle and off into the great beyond along the tracks and byways that make up France’s cycle-paths.

                In preparation for this annual event he has cleaned and prepped the bike [a wondrous bike-not in the least responsible for my ineptitude], gathered together any equipment that may be likely to make the entire business less arduous and painful [for both of us, you understand], organised as much as possible in the way of safe, flat, sheltered routes offering respite along the way-in other words-bars, and prepared himself for the slow, pathetic, whimpering would-be cyclist I always am.

                The ‘pistes’ are superb; flat [due to the terrain], tarmac, off-road, signed [mostly]. Husband is an expert cyclist, swooshing effortlessly through the half barriers and up over jutting kerbs with no perceptible reduction in speed. He offers an occasional glance over his shoulder to assess my progress and is rewarded by the sight of me back in the distance, affecting an undignified paddle through the chicane or lifting the handlebars up to scale the pavement. He offers strategic stops to assuage the soreness of the backside and the undercarriage; my own upholstery soon becomes tender, even with the gel-padded, hi-tech cushioning of the lycra cycle shorts that are wedged, nappy-like under my nether regions.

                “Keep your speed up…and just GO!” he exhorts as I attempt to negotiate yet another obstacle. In the past I have endeavoured to follow this instruction, resulting in my crashing into the sides of narrow bridges or parting company with the bike [painfully on to gravel] on a particularly sharp corner and rashly into a night-time clump of aggressive nettles. I seem to have an innate inability to steer, needing to dismount completely whenever a complete turn is needed, or any sudden change in direction.

                The traffic, thundering around the occasional roundabout where the path has momentarily disappeared, terrifies me. “I’m going to walk across”, I announce and he eyes me wearily as he waits for me to catch up.

                Somewhere there will be an incline, perhaps to cross a bridge, or a cross wind-or a head wind, where I fall further behind. “Low gear!” he advises, unaware no doubt that I’ve been in low gear since we started out and have, now, no more gears of the low sort to change to…

                Despite all this pain and effort I know that by the end of the month I will have racked up the kilometres and have returned to a semblance of my slow, summer, fair weather, recreational cycling persona, with a slightly more resistant derriere, sturdier legs, wind-blown skin and appetite for beer. Then I will be home and be able to take up the reins of Zumba where I left off……

Oh dear!