Aging Sucks

It’s clear to me that my body is not what it used to be. I’m like an abandoned house that people see and think, “Oh what a shame. Look at those sagging eaves, the rotting porch, the loose shingles. It was such a nice house once. Maybe it can be renovated.”  How lovely is that? I need to be renovated.

I like to think I’m still basically structurally sound. I’d just need a bit of work before anyone would want to live here again (and some rigorous maintenance to keep it that way). The problem is, of course, that I never moved out. So some caution is called for. You have to work harder to live in an aging house.

For instance, I can now, apparently, injure myself by just walking, sitting, standing or sleeping. I’ve been upright, bipedal and nocturnally unconscious for most of my life and never had much problem until fairly recently.  My mother says I mastered all of the above quite young, and I’ve practiced every day since. But apparently for all these years, I have not been doing these things in the most ergonomically ideal fashion and now the damage is starting to show.

So I’m just halfway through my fifth decade on the planet, and I have at least a half a dozen parts that no longer work as originally intended. My conversations with my doctors are starting to sound like that old joke. You know the one: A man says to the doctor, Doctor, it hurts when I do this.  And the doctor says, Well don’t do that. Seriously, it happens.

TMJ is an acronym for one of my unhappy body parts. It stands for the temporomandibular joint that connects the lower jaw with the skull. My jaw joints are unhappy because I clench my jaw muscles a lot and this causes frequent, annoying headaches and painful jaw popping when I yawn or eat. It gets a little worse every year. The solution? Don’t do that. Really. If you look up treatments, you’ll find things like Keep teeth slightly apart, Avoid extreme jaw movements like yawning and chewing, and Learn relaxation techniques – all just different ways of saying, Don’t do that. Or you can take pain killers and muscle relaxants. That’s about it.

A couple of years ago, I went to the doctor because the bottoms of my feet hurt every time I took a step. It felt like the soles were bruised. The doctor said I had something called plantar fasciitis which as far as I can tell means the connective tissue on the bottom of the foot is unhappy because it is tired of holding your arch up all these years. The solution? Buy good arch supports, stay off your feet as much as possible, and lose weight.

Have you ever tried to lose weight while staying off your feet? I suppose I could swim if we had a pool or could afford to join a gym. Or if I could swim. But my exercise of choice was always jogging which I can’t seem to manage since I quit smoking. I’m serious. Five years ago, I quit smoking. Since then, I have gained 50 pounds which caused me to develop plantar fasciitis which prevents me from jogging which means I can’t lose the weight.

I have tried adjusting my diet, but apparently I have the metabolism of a ground sloth now. I could eat a bowl of lettuce and a carrot stick for every meal and I still wouldn’t lose a pound. It was so much easier when I could eat what I wanted and just jog it off. Aging really sucks.

I could go on and on about the legion of fun new physical challenges late middle age brings, but for now I’m trying to focus on coming up with new ways of living in my old body that don’t hurt or take all the fun out of life. I have a recumbent stationary bike, a yoga cd, and a partner who used to be a chef who can make even healthy food taste good. And in the meantime, I suppose I’ll try to remember that approaching old age isn’t so bad if you consider the alternative.

For further brooding on this subject see my post, Aging Still Sucks.

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7 Comments

  1. Sherrie stringer

     /  January 20, 2012

    I am right there with ya sister. Your blog is fantastic!

    Reply
  2. I love your blog….how true it is too!! They say “Golden Years”, but I aint found the “gold” in it yet, except for the gold I gotta sell to pay for all the Doctors!

    Reply
    • I think I’ve been to the doctor more since I quit smoking than the first 40 years of my life. How’s that for irony? And what I saved from not buying cigarettes, I spent on the doctors and then some. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  3. papermudandme

     /  February 15, 2012

    Ah, yes. I could say, “Been there. Done that” But that won’t make you fell any better. But I’m not going to feel to guilty about that since the doctors don’t seem to be able to say things that make you feel better either. ;-}

    Reply
  4. No they don’t, do they? It’s okay, though. We’re all in the same boat, including the doctors.

    Reply
  5. VCUgero

     /  November 18, 2012

    I have to begin by saying I love your metaphor of an “aging house.” It made me really consider what it truly means to age and how we must “learn” to age. I sympathize with all of the physical challenges you are experiencing and know such adaptations require tremendous determination! I just wanted to offer a few simple thoughts to reflect on regarding your aging experience.

    There is no doubt the aging process will present challenges, but then again so has every other stage of life. You have a collection of innate strengths that have brought you this far and chances are they still reside within you. Use them to restore what it is you want for your aging house! Also, despite your physical changes, you still maintain your wonderful humor and ability to reach out to others. Keep on sharing! There is a whole beautiful side of the getting older that can seem hidden beneath the plantar fasciitis and those clenched jaw muscles.

    Reply
  1. Aging Still Sucks | Fork in My Eye

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