Monday 20 October 2014

62: 10, 9, 8…

October 20, 2014. I am 62 years old. Whoop dee do. I am having a non-celebration, although my colleagues at work had a get together with cake this afternoon.

I amusingly recounted to some old friends last week my countdown theory. We start out at 10. Everything is good, we’re firing on all cylinders. Something bad happens, a health issue, and we end up at 3. Oooo, this is so not good. Life sucks. We visit the doctor. We take our pills. We do physio; we exercise; and ever so slowly, we manage to work our way back up to 9. 9 isn’t 10, but 9 is way better than 3, and for that we’re grateful. 9 is good. We can live with that.

Then we have another health issue and we drop down to 6. We do what’s necessary and we manage to get back up to 8. We remember 3 and how bad that was. 8 isn’t 10. Heck, 8 isn’t 9, but we remember 3 and 8 is way better than 3 so we learn to live with that.

10, 9, 8. I think you see where I’m going with this. I have an uncle who will be 99 in November. If he lives, I imagine the family, far-flung relatives, will plan a reunion next year for the big one zero zero. He has so many health issues, I’ve lost count. He’s still mobile thanks to a motorised cart, but he has confessed on more than one occasion to his son that he is tired and would like to leave. In his opinion, we shouldn’t live past 85. Okay, he shouldn’t have lived past 85. The quality of life drops off and from that point onward, it’s more about staying alive for the sake of staying alive as opposed to enjoying life.

The woman of the couple I mentioned above told me of her eye problems. She’s had five surgeries to save the retina in her right eye. She can still see, but her sight in the eye is less than perfect. Not good. A diminished quality of life. But… I told her of my brother. Two years ago, he wakes up in the middle of the night with a stabbing pain in his left eye. He’s been blind in it ever since. The doctor conjectures he had an “eye stroke”; the artery feeding the optic nerve became blocked and the blood supply was cut off. Sometimes we have to look down and compare our situation with somebody worse off. Yes, our quality of life is not as good as it once was, but it could be a whole lot worse.

In 2012, I suffered the worst injury of my entire life. I spent six months locked up in my apartment in pain twenty-four by seven. I’m a better man now, thank you very much, but I’m not the same man. I didn’t get back to 10; I’m sitting at 8, maybe 9. But 8 or 9 is a whole lot better than 3. Can I complain?

I’ve been thinking that all of us suffer from a number of problems later on in life. The body ages. It doesn’t heal as quickly. We have a lifetime of wear and tear to contend with. It adds up. We start to modify our behaviour to deal with new limitations. We may rationalise: 8 is better than 3.

I have not jogged full-time in three years because I hurt my left knee. This past summer, I try to get back at it. I have a regular route of 5.5 kilometres (3.4 miles) I used to run 3 or 4 times a week. - Sometimes, I had inspired moments and did 10 kilometres (6.2 miles), even 16 (9.9 miles). - This time, I start slow and work my way up. I arrive at doing a successful run of my route. No pain, no problems. All good. I do it a second time. Ta-da! The third time, I get to the three kilometre mark and my left ankle starts hurting like I’ve sprained it. It turns out, the pounding displaced the talus bone in my ankle. My kinesiologist gets me straightened out and taped up. I take a break then try to jog again. Once again, I put out this bone but I also damage the plantar fascia, the tissue which supports the arch on the bottom of the foot. Now I’m out of commission for months. My expert, in listening to my history and doing more tests, theorises that I have an inherent weakness in my left foot which would explain an odd issue I’ve had off and on for the past ten or so years.

On the recommendation of the therapist (and several colleagues), I now do not jog but stick strictly with the elliptical machine at the gym. I get my cardio, but I am not slamming my foot down. I’ve been jogging my entire life, and now I have to stop because of knee and foot problems? 10, 9, 8. What’s next? What’s going to leave me at 7? The wheels have started to fall off the wagon. It’s true. Later in life, we spend more time, more and more time with health.

As of June, I have a new boss. We’ve had coffee together a few times and an informal conversation about the future. 65 seems like a reasonable age to retire. Just three years from now. Three more years of collecting a pay cheque then I have to get by all on my own. Two questions come to mind. How to live without a regular pay cheque? What to do with all that time?

This morning when I came to work, I went to the lunchroom to get myself a cup of coffee. I mentioned to a colleague about my birthday and the cake planned for this afternoon. He told me – jokingly, of course – that according to the statistics, a man my age has about another twenty years. Okay, it’s funny, but it does give one pause to reflect. The ride will be over someday. When I was 22, I didn’t think of it. At 62, let’s say it seems a tad more looming.

I previously mentioned how a friend compared turning 60 to entering the fourth quarter. I said that in his football metaphor, the fourth quarter is also the last quarter and nobody knows if there will be overtime.

I have explained both the football reference and my countdown theory to the oldest friend I am still in contact with (50 years). She wrote to me this morning with a positive note. “Glad to know you’re still vertical, old friend. You can still make touchdowns in the fourth quarter.”

Time to tackle the rest of my life.

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my blog: 61 down, 19 to go - Oct 20/2013
19 to go? Yes, it may sound morbid, but based on genes and statistics; it is a realistic estimate of the time left before this ride is over. And if you knew that your vacation was going to be over next Tuesday, would you not plan accordingly? Should you not plan accordingly?

my blog: I’m 60. Now what? - Oct 20/2012
Sixty. Hmph. So the moment is here and this is what it feels like. Hmph. What was I expecting? I do realise however that to a twenty something, I am officially an old man. But just what the heck does old feel like? Are we back to the idea that age is a state of mind? Hey, my puffing because I'm winded or my vitamin supplements or the grey hair showing up in my beard isn't what I would call a state of mind. Nope this is the real deal. This is it.

my blog: My Rocky Horror Birthday - Oct 23/2011
It's your birthday and what could somebody do to celebrate it in an out of the ordinary manner worthy of Monty Python's famous "And now for something completely different"? How about a small dinner theatre which seats a maximum of 88 people and an amateur troop's fourth annual presentation of a 1973 cult classic whose protagonist is a transvestite? Yep, I think that fits the bill quite nicely.

Uploaded on 31 Jul 2008 by doctorzaius77
YouTube: The Beatles - Happy Birthday
Whenever anybody has a birthday, at work, on Facebook, etc., I send them this link. Corny, but it does the trick.


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