Aging gratefully

There’s an old saying that goes “growing old isn’t so bad once you consider the alternative.” While I’ve always understood and agreed with this intellectually, the truth of this adage has really struck home with my diagnosis. In addition to the cancer, cancer treatment, diabetes, and diabetes management, I’ve also had to contend with some of the natural shocks that flesh is heir to. Put more prosaically, I now find myself dealing with some of the common and not so common complaints that come with growing older.

When I was younger, I had two ears, a left ear and a right ear. They sat there, on either side of my head and I never paid them much mind except to occasionally fret that they might be too large. Ah, the vanity of youth! I still have two ears now, a good ear and a not so good ear. I now have to position myself so that my “good” ear is tilted toward the sound source if I want to hear it clearly. Audiologists and ENTs I have consulted assure me that my hearing loss is age-related and irreversible except with hearing aids. I haven’t gone there, yet. In the meantime, I crank up the volume on my radio and television, and find myself saying “can you repeat that, please?” with increasing frequency. Yeah, I’m that old guy. All I need is an ear trumpet.

My vision is also changing for the worse. I’ve worn glasses since I was a kid and tried bifocals for a while. I’ve switched back to single lens glasses because I found that I was taking my glasses off to see anything up close anyway. Now I take my glasses off for just about anything except for driving and watching television. That doesn’t mean I can see well without them, it’s just that I’ve settled for “good enough” the rest of the time. Is it just me, or has 10 pt type gotten smaller? Oh, and I now have cataracts that will need surgery, but that’s not happening anytime soon. My eye doc says that I’ll eventually have trouble driving at night. I’m OK so far, but you might want to get your kids off the street before the streetlights come on. Sidewalk, too.

About two years ago, I noticed a slight bulging just to the left of my groin area. This turned out to be an inguinal hernia. Not everyone gets a hernia when they get older, but they’re much more common the older you get. At first, I had to make an effort to make it bulge, so I put off doing anything about it when I had the chance. Now, the bulging happens whenever I strain, cough or sneeze. When I sneeze or cough now, I cover my mouth with one hand and press in on my hernia with the other. I suppose I look kind of silly doing this, but I’d rather look silly than have the hernia get so bad that I need emergency surgery. I’m trying to avoid any kind “elective” surgery while I’m still under treatment. First things first. In the meantime, I’ve ordered a truss to hold things in until I’m healthy enough to get it surgically repaired. Truss. They’re not just for bridges any more.

I’m sure that I’m leaving out a few of the more minor complaints, but I guess everything is minor now. I’m grateful to be alive, and I’m grateful for my aging body, shocks and all.

About the picture accompanying this post: As I wrote above, I take my glasses off for just about everything. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time trying to find them about the house and other places. This culminated in an incident last weekend where I panicked thinking I might have left them thirty miles away. It turns out they had fallen off my shirt and landed in the back seat of the car while I was stowing groceries. This was both annoying and embarrassing, as I had called my daughter and sent her out on a pointless mission to find them when they were at home all the time. Enter Peeper Keepers eyeglass holders. In the past I’ve associated these things with old lady librarians. Now that I’m probably older now than were the old ladies librarians of my youth, I’ve cast aside vanity for practicality. Besides, I figure they’ll look great with my truss and my ear trumpet.

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