The Wear and Tear of the Human Condition

Are You Prepared to Grow Old?

Photo Credit: Myself

I have a memory as a child of when we would go to my great grandmother’s house. This was a big deal for us. It was the only time our extended family would come together. I remember ten year old me thinking the adults were dinosaurs with their un-hip style, set ways, aging faces and mundane lifestyles. Even my cousin who is less than a decade older than me appeared prehistoric back then.

Now that I’m in my 40’s and have life experience under my belt I’ve come to the conclusion that every adult must physically feel like shit, even if they don’t admit to it. It’s as if once the human brain is fully developed at age 25 it’s only an inconsistent pace of decline from there.

This is somewhat common to present itself after the age of 40, the ophthalmologist said to me while explaining what Corneal Degeneration Disease is.

I’m 38, I responded in a tone sounding more like a cower than a confident statement. I had no vision issues before 2013.

After wearing a cast, boot and brace on my foot for 19 months I was diagnosed with Osteoporosis just last week. I broke my foot, it healed. I broke my foot again, causing more damage than the first time. The orthopedic doctor insisted I had Osteoporosis. I insisted he was a drama queen.

A bone density scan proved me wrong. Let’s get to the root of the problem, he said. The root of the problem is I’m totally fine until I see a doctor. Only then is something wrong with me.

There is no cure for aging. At best I can prolong the worst of its condition by taking care of myself and leading a healthy lifestyle. So, basically everything I do every day already as I steadily fall apart nevertheless.

I’m fucked.

The doctor recommending stair climbing as the best weight bearing exercise in defense of Osteoporosis progressing. It’s not the physical activity that concerns me. It’s the fact that I live in a four story house and stair climbing at this point has little effect.

I still have to get through my 50’s, 60’s 70’s and potentially 80’s and 90’s. I’ve got a ways to go. Who’s to say I’ll still be making it up all those stairs as the years carry on?

I imagine my own children now see me as I once saw the adults in my family — outdated, tired and boring but they’re wrong. I’m still full of spunk and have a relatively fashionable wardrobe.

My teenage son found me binge watching Atypical on Netflix the other day and all of a sudden I was cool to hang out with, if only fleetingly.

My 23 year old daughter and I shaved our heads together in July for a bit of relief during the Midwestern summer. Here we are four months later with our hair growing out. She looks like a trendy 80’s punk rocker babe and I look like the Crypt Keeper.

I used a dead seaweed, mud mask I saw when reading an outdated edition of Vogue at the library. The finished product did not turn out quite as computer graphic generated as it did on the woman in the advertisement.

Why is it that if men have gray hair they’re considered distinguished and sexy but when a woman does we consider her an old hag?

I still feel young and now that I’ve hit the prehistoric age group I remember as a child I wonder what I was thinking.

I’m a self proclaimed Blue Zone girl. Food is fresh from the garden and there’s yard work to be done. There’s no television. We sit down and eat meals together as a family. The house is big and the chore list is long. Exercise is whatever physical labor chores happen to be that day.

I walk laps around the pond out back all four seasons of the year. It’s three flights of stairs from my bedroom to the laundry room. I use an ax to chop wood. 15 rooms equals 15 floors to clean.

I was blowing leaves when our elderly neighbor from across the way came over to bitch at me. Apparently my electric leaf blower was creating a terrible cloud of fumes in her living room. She then said it was too loud after I explained that electric doesn’t produce any type of fumes.

She wanted me to stop but I wouldn’t. I had already planted it in my head that the leaves must be cleaned up, hauled and dumped for no reason other than I want to do physical labor and be active.

It’s not that I want to stay young forever or avoid the inevitable. It would seem much healthier to live focused in the moment than to aim for longevity. As a society we tend to blame a great deal on mid-life crisis, but with no definitive life span how do we know when our mid-life even is? It’s better to assume it’s all down hill once we hit the age of 25. If we do, at least we are prepared.

Some days it takes all I’ve got to fight off periods of depression or the wear and tear of post menopause, and that’s without forcing myself to accept that old age is coming and everything I do now strongly effects the condition I’ll be in when I become a geriatric.

As my body begins to deteriorate and my hormones make me crazy my mind feels young at heart, alive and free. Maybe that should be my focus in order to improve my physical health, if my body can keep up with me.

Reporter based in Eastern Iowa. Pro- equality. Anti- AR15. My hobbies include emotional eating, petting cats, hibernating and farming.

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