We’ve all seen that greeting card…so appropriate on big-number birthdays…that highlight adding another year to the pile we’re already dragging behind us, “Remember, you’re not getting older, only better!”
Hold that thought! There I was, still merrily celebrating the start of a new decade without noticing that a few additional birthdays had piled on. Time doesn’t just fly as one ages, it telescopes! How could those few months of the recent past that I dimly recall have swiftly morphed into…several years? Was I a female Rip Van Winkle? A time traveler?
I do admit, however, that even with my dimming eyesight, inescapable signs mark the passage of years and bridge memory gaps. Hard to miss extra wrinkles, shrinking stature, my face and body’s slides and sags. Still, much like upgrading an older model car, a few new parts to replace those wearing out help slow down the wear and tear. Not the scarier slicing and dicing of face or bod; neither lip-plump nor lift-up would do much to shore up my sense of self-worth. I shun any youthful urge that would hurt!
Instead I opt for the plastic molar that daily slips into my lower jaw. It will never get a cavity! I can better weed out real words from crowd chatter through my new hearing aids. And as long as I don’t completely bend toward the lowest shelf in the linen closet, or try to skip upstairs, whatever magic potion was pumped into my collapsed knee still smoothly slides in place—well, depending on the weather.
My “old school” internist and I discuss the “less is more” theory of aging. He’s careful not to over-medicate, and abstains from prescribing trendy health aids like probiotics or diuretics. We both agree on an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach to self-maintenance. Ditto for highly touted supplements or vitamins.
I’m careful not to be cavalier or somewhat smug when all goes well. “You don’t look your age,” I’m often told. “I never had chemo or radiation,” I quickly counter, “ditto for joint replacements or operations,” all of which I know can quickly erode the heartiest among us.” Like the model who blessed her great beauty on good genes, I’m grateful to my healthy forebears.
At any age, however, expect the unexpected. Merely to shorten a routine treatment, a dentist once gave me an antibiotic that almost did me in. I immediately stalked my doctor on-line and downed three different pills! I welcomed every available test and each heavy-duty prescription. Both the medic and medicine saved the day! “You’re lucky,” a nurse told me! “This cutting-edge cure might not be so readily accessible in other parts of the world.”
However, once back to regular check-ups (because that’s what seniors seem to do and what Medicare pays for), my results happily wind up with the doc’s usual refrain. “Everything’s fine, watch the blood pressure, forget any minor aches and pains.” These days, my parting reminder to my semi-retired doctor whom I so appreciate, is, “Don’t forget, Doctor, you can’t totally close up shop until I’m gone!”
Always pleasant but never overly personal, on this visit the good doctor gave me a hard look, thought for a minute and semi-whispered more to himself than me, “Well then, I may just have to bump you off!” What better compliment and positive proof than a physician’s confirmation that most likely, I still had a long way to go!