Friday, December 23, 2016

Aging, Not So Gracefully

My high school seniors Marching band (I'm to the far left in the back with my Sousaphone wrapped around me) and my best friend Bill B. is to the far right in the back behind his bass drum) - 1959

This post is yet another one about me facing the challenges of aging. Something I didn't give much though to when I was in my glorious youth.

This evening I called my longtime friend Bill B. (from school days) to wish him a happy birthday (his birthday is Christmas Eve).  

Our first topic of conversation (we had already agreed not to talk about Trump politics, or more accurately he warned me NOT to bring up any anti-Trump rants lest "there not be much to talk about") was our health. 

"How are you doing Bill?"  And this time I meant it. "Any falls?" "What prescriptions are you taking now?" "Who's the latest classmate to die (quite a few this year)."

You know the usual topic of conversation of 75 year old men.  Ah for those halcyon days when we used to board the band bus for those AWAY football games.  Bill played the bass drum and I played the Sousaphone

Me far left with my fellow Sousaphone players - 1957

(not tuba as many mistakenly call that spit producer I lugged around for three years in marching band).

Me and my Sousaphone - 1959

I reminded Bill that we were past our "sell by date".  We're "working on gravy now."  

For a couple old dudes, we're in pretty good spirits.  In fact, except for the aches and pains and daily medications, we're having the best times of our life.  Bill and his wife are traveling with friends.  I'm traveling with a friend (the ubiquitous "Pat" from Toronto).

Me and Pat - 2013

After I got off the phone with Bill I read my other friend Larry's blog. Larry is also an old high school friend of mine and one of my best friends during my school days until his family moved out of our school district in third grade at which time I took up with the aforementioned "Bill B" the bass drum player.  Yeah, I know I was very "easy" during my school days. 

Larry, as my regular blog followers know was recently diagnosed with ALS.  He's losing muscle control.  In his latest blog (see HERE) he described his difficult in putting on his underwear after getting out of the shower.  He writes:

"Once out of a shower, dried off in all my natural glory, I face the challenge of dressing. I lasso my toes with the leg opening of my underpants like a cowboy trying to rope a running calf. The first leg may be caught, but the other then resists capture even more ferociously."

You should see me getting out of the shower.  Well, maybe on second thought you wouldn't want to see me because I no longer possess that rock hard six pack abs but I digress.  You should see me trying to put on my underwear.  Lassoing the opening to the leg of my underwear is becoming more and more of a challenge. 

My problem isn't ALS, it's the arthritis mass that has built up on my lower back.  My orthopedic surgeon showed me that mass when he took X-Rays of my body for my leg injury.  I knew I was stiff getting up in the morning.  Oh no, not THAT "stiff" but stiff in the back.  But I didn't realize I had that much arthritis in my back. And you know what folks?  It isn't going to get any better.

A representation, NOT ME folks! I'm flabbier now but not THAT flabby

That stiffness in the morning is one reason I take a daily walk of at least two miles, weather permitting.  I at least get some of the stiffness out and can reasonably function the rest of the day.  As for the pain, it's been so gradual over the years I guess I'm used to it now.

I remember when I was a paper boy and I used to deliver the paper to this old lady who was all gnarled up with arthritis.  She was so nice.  She lived by herself at the end of a lonely road near the outskirts of the small town (Downingtown, PA) where I lived growing up.  Her hands looked like claws and she was always seated in her comfortable recliner, with a shawl around her shoulder and another on her lap.  Once I week I knocked on her door to collect my thirty cents fee for delivering her the Philadelphia Bulletin newspaper.  She always asked me to come in because she was too crippled to go to the door to let me in.  The two things I will always remember about her was she was always smiling and friendly and never complained about her constant pain.  But I could tell she was suffering.  And I wished I could do something to alleviate her pain but I couldn't but that image of her, twisted in constant pain but always smiling, has never left me in all these years.

These days facing the challenges of my aging body I frequently think back to the days when my body was young and full of energy and I didn't give a second thought to dressing after taking a shower.  When I didn't give a second thought to being careful not to fall.  

These days I think about the increasing challenges I am facing because of my arthritic body.  I fear the snow and ice and hope we get a pass this year.  But still, I fear falling.  I've already torn my quadricep muscle in my left leg.  This past November 9th, during my birthday celebration in Philadelphia I fell flat on my face just crossing the street to my friend's co-op.  All those years I lived in Philly and I never once even stumbled.  Now I live in fear of falling again.  I was just lucky I didn't break my nose and a car didn't run over me (Pat stopped the traffic as I lay in the street).  

Pitiful me after I fell flat on my face (hit my forehead hard) on 21st Street in Philadelphia

Ah yes folks, that's what I think about these days even more frequently.  And I am reminded of that old adage my favorite movie actress Bette Davis said:

"Old Age Ain't No Place for sissies!"

Tell me about it Bette.

By the way, while I was doing a Google search of images of Bette, I found I was in Bette's Google search.  What's THAT all about?


Travel said...

Merry Christmas!

Ur-spo said...

You will bury us all.

Ron said...

Right back at you David! Have a wonderful Christmas!

Ron said...

That is my goal. I am using reverse psychology (which you know already)