Lying in bed I go through the same progression every morning. I wonder if I move, “Am I going to break?” I begin by wiggling, first one little toe, then the other and gradually work my way up. My goal is to get my feet on the ground and stand erect without making the same noises my father made when he was my age…I am now faced with the realization I have out lived my father by five years. That is a sobering thought. My second goal is to check the local obituaries and find that my name is not listed there.
While I am aware of my age, it has not been an issue until recently. For the past year I have battled an arthritic knee that keeps me from running and rocked a vertebra onto my sciatic nerve while splitting wood that, for a month, kept me from doing just about everything else. Bad enough but a conversation with a friend of mine really made me pause to consider the question of my age. Married, hers is a May-December romance. She is May and he is December…which is not true. She is more April and he is more, say, October. With his impending retirement she has suddenly become concerned about her husband’s age or rather what her husband’s age might have in store them both. Seeking enlightenment from me, I was not able to give it. My mind asked “Why is she asking me? I’m not old?” My body answered “You’re three years older than her husband.” Gee, where is my cane?
Today I got to do my “Medicare Wellness Profile.” It included an eye test, whisper test, walking test and questionnaire with such thought provoking questions as “Can you bathe and wash yourself without help?” Yes, and I can wipe my butt to. All went with the normal check of BP, ability to process oxygen and EKG. “You want me to get out of a chair, walk six feet return and sit down again?” Oh me! The nurse in charge said I passed with flying colors until you consider I am being compared to “really old people,” something the old bat pointed out. Funny, I think like a young person but I guess the mirror doesn’t lie. Why couldn’t I have at least had Sam Elliott’s hair?
Forty years ago during the first jogging craze, I began a haphazard exercise regimen. Haphazard in that I would allow anything to get in the way in order to avoid it. Finally getting my mind right in the Early-Nineties, I got into the habit of exercise…until a side lunge put me in the hospital to have cartilage removed. No more lunges of any type. Later a miss step on the baseball field would require the other knee to be scoped for the same reason and in 1999 I had the second of two operations on an arthritic big toe. I found myself out of the habit of exercise and into any habit that involved sitting on a couch and consuming mass quantities of fried foods and beer. Forty pounds later I could not deny what the mirror was showing me. Two hundred and thirty-two pounds on my five foot nine frame could no longer be hidden. I was sloppy fat. On April 8, 2006 I made the decision that I had to make radical life style changes. My realization would be further emphasized the next day.
In a month I will celebrate another birthday and a ten-year anniversary. “Happy birthday to you…How old are you? F@#$ YOU and your horse!” Family had gathered to celebrate my birthday on April 9. Always irreverent, my brother presented me with a birthday card featuring a grim reaper reflected in a car’s rear view mirror and the warning “Objects may be closer than they appear.” Five hours later I found myself hooked up to a gazillion monitors after having just survived a heart attack and having had a catheter and stint surfed into a clogged artery. One month later the original stint would be joined by three more in three different arteries. I was six months away from a loss of seventy pounds and running a 5-K. Yes, it was a radical life style change. My brother was so broken up about the card he had given me, I got it again the next year. It is now framed as a constant reminder of what I am trying to outrun or out walk at least.
For ten years now I have drug myself out of bed and done something. Now at least I wait until the sun is up. At any age, walking, running, cycling, stretching and strength training, I guess it’s all about movement. Moving your ass out of bed and onto something more productive. If I happen to live to be ninety-five I want to be mobile and not in bed…wait. Bed? I just thought of a great way to die…traumatic as it might be for the other individual…or group. I would have to stay in good shape to do it. I believe I will get out of bed in the morning and do what I have been doing for the last ten years.
Move that butt Lard-O! Time’s a wasting!
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