I have come to a realization that I think I thought I'd never have to. I am getting old. Old-ER. I will be 50 years old this month. 25 years ago, that sounded ancient. Now, it sounds pretty young. I have officially become one of those women who says things like, "50 is the new 30," and other lies like that. There are people who live to be twice that age, some even older. But I must say I have come to some sobering realizations, especially this year.
I take pretty good care of myself. I exercise at least 5 days a week, at least an hour a day but usually longer. I mix both cardiovascular exercise and weight training. For the most part, I eat meals that have a proper balance of protein and complex carbs. I take good care of my skin (doing penance for years of sun worshipping), and I do my best to take good care of my spiritual, mental and emotional health. And even with all this do-gooding, my body has started to implode, to betray me. This year has been especially difficult.
First, my ophthalmologist dealt me a crushing blow back in January. I was seeing him for my annual appointment (I have been terribly near-sighted since I was a child), and I casually mentioned that I find myself peeking over the top of my glasses to see things up close, like a book or a sports car. He snickered knowingly and told me that he thinks I need bifocals, but that I am not "emotionally ready" for them yet. What does that mean, exactly?
Second, and I will spare you all the graphic details here, but I am having hormonal issues. Some manifest themselves as physical demons, and some (so I'm told) emotional demons. In other words, I am either cramping, bloated, angry, sad or irritated most of the time. My husband has done the math; apparently I am bearable about 26 minutes out of each month. Two surgeries and a birth control implant later, I have sort of calmed down – but I believe some irritation just comes with age and a shorter fuse.
Third, I woke up one morning a few months ago with my right arm tingling, numb, aching. Running through my mental list of health emergencies for which I am ripe, I quickly eliminated the possibility of a heart attack. I explained the phenomenon to my doctor (who is also a woman), and she laughed and said, "I know. It sucks, doesn't it?" A quick X-ray told us that I have a reverse-S curve thing and spurs in my neck, probably from my head spinning around 360 degrees during certain times of the month. She prescribed muscle relaxers (which I thought might come in handy, but apparently they have no effect on me whatsoever) and physical therapy. So now I am committed to two 2-hour sessions per week of pulling on rubber bands, massage and neck stretching, all of which I get at my gym anyway, but who's counting?
I was hoping the physical therapy and muscle relaxers would take care of the ever-present aches and pains which greet me bright and early every morning and tuck me in each night. All of my moving parts hurt, all the time.
And fourth, I just left a ridiculously expensive shoe store. I purchased two pairs of ugly, sensible shoes and spent almost $400. You see, I have never had arches in my feet. All the banging around I've done in the gym over the years had pulverized them into weak, unstable, pronated, flat appendages. I may as well walk on my hands for all that's left of my feet. I spent another $400 on orthotics, inserts for these ugly, sensible shoes. So now, for the price of some killer Chanels, I am forced to wear shoes that look more like mid-sized appliances than footwear. My husband has always bought me beautiful, feminine things. He has begged me for years to wear heels, the higher the better. He tells me that they accentuate my calves and look very sexy. I get that. I see women wearing beautiful, come-hither shoes and my heart just aches. If I were to strap some on, I'd have to sit the entire time I'd wear them. Those days are over for me. The most attractive pair of shoes I now own (and can actually wear) is a pair of Birkenstocks. Maybe I'll wear them with fishnets on his next birthday and surprise him.