New Ageing

January 9, 2013

On Christmas Day we had a family festival at our house.  The furniture layout in the front room was modified to accommodate a makeshift table in order to seat 16 people.  The turkey came out wonderful and on time, which is a new feat for us, appetisers were devoured and wine was drunk.  It was a grand evening.

Compared to years past when I would eat at least two servings of turkey and the trimmings before moving on to copious volumes of dessert, I behaved more rationally.  Although I didn’t hold back on the appetisers, I kept to one serving, albeit rather large, of turkey and then one serving of dessert.  I finished with a small but pleasant cup of coffee and sat back quite pleased with myself.

When I awoke at 3 am for my normal bathroom visit, I was greeted by a noise that sounded not unlike a small garbage disposal unit labouring to rid itself of waste.  I sat up, thinking that we had left some appliance on, but was stopped short when I realised the noise was me.  My system was working overtime on my Christmas meal and wasn’t at all pleased that it wasn’t getting its normal evening rest.  Good grief, I wondered, what is this all about?  I sat for a while, walked about the house, took some antacid and went to the living room to read for a bit.

As I sat there with my book in my hand, I couldn’t help think about how different this mid-evening condition was from times in the past.  The only problems I used to have were more related to the condition of my head from drinking too much wine.  As I continued to hear my discontented, growling stomach, I gazed into space and started thinking about the changes in my body and habits that are cumulating as the years roll by.

It looks like the ‘New Age’ is now accompanied by ‘New Ageing’.

Viewing myself in the mirror after a shower, I no longer exclaim, “boy, I’m in good shape”.  Now the statements are more like, “not bad” or “where did that come from?”  It is a puzzle to me how I’ve quickly gone from having a robust, fit body to one that looks remarkably like my Dad’s ageing body in later years.

Then there is the question of my lips.  Where did they go?  I used to have lips like everyone else.  Heck, I even played the saxophone.  Now they resemble the straight line that kids use when they are drawing faces on stick men.  My smiles just don’t look like they used to.

Some women become anxious when they develop ‘crows feet’ beside their eyes, but on my face I seem to have developed a complete three-dimensional road map showing all the associated river canyons.  I even have little anomalies that could represent appropriately scaled versions of small buttes in Arizona.

On the subject of energy, my daily habits have been a-changing.  Logically, I’m still very clear on what is required to keep my desired level of fitness, but there seems to be another part of my brain that is confused.  A typical hour of exercise walking or running on the trails around here or riding my road bicycle has turned into an hour at the coffee shop talking to friends and acquaintances.  Of course I feel very guilty and promise myself to return to the vigorous lifestyle, but I don’t feel the same pressure to do so any more.  In fact, ‘hanging out’ at home or spending time in conversation with someone feels pretty good these days.

Glasses – what a subject of confusion this is.  I have glasses all over the place.  Up until recently, I’ve been able to get away with non-prescription glasses.  I do need different power glasses for reading versus using the computer, but what I have seems to work well.  The new challenge came about when we bought a new, high definition TV.  When I watch high definition movies on this thing, nothing is perfectly sharp.  When I look at something in the sunlight without any glasses and at the same distance as I watch TV, everything is crystal clear.  However, when I watch TV in a darker room, the image edges and print are fuzzy.  I can see another set of ‘special’ glasses in my future.  Unfortunately, they will be probably be prescription glasses and will most likely cost a fortune (which really means “more than I want to pay”).  Let me see now, we buy a nice flat panel HD TV for $450 and then I need to spend $600 on glasses to appreciate the high definition.  What sort of economics is that?

Lately I’ve been struggling to hear my grandkids speaking to me when we travel together in the car.  I knew my hearing was letting me down and about a month ago I finally decided to have an audiology test to find out the facts.  It turns out my ears are superb at lower frequencies.  In fact, the audiologist said, “Better than most people of your age.”  (They always do the ‘feel good’ thing before lowering the boom.)  “However,” she said with some sternness, “You are going to need some help with the higher frequencies.  A hearing aide for each ear is definitely in your future.”  I certainly heard that, but all I could think about is another $3000 flying out the window.  I will hold off on that financial adventure for a while yet and continue to be annoying with “pardon me” and “there is a lot of noise in here and I didn’t quite hear you” until I can’t stand it any longer or others start complaining.  Some good news is that I can still enjoy music, either live or recorded.  Nevertheless, I won’t be buying any more fancy loudspeakers for the stereo.

You would think all this would get me down, but it really hasn’t.  I seem to be accepting it as part of life’s path, but maybe that is just another factor of ageing.  Maybe I’m slowly forgetting how it used to be.  Which brings me to the subject of forgetfulness.  This has also taken a new twist in the more recent past.  We all know the routine, when you get up from your living room chair and walk into the bedroom to get….something, then find yourself standing there trying to remember what it was you came to get.  The trick has always been to go back to the living room and start to sit back down in the chair.  That always used to bring it back.  Or when you leave something somewhere and then realise you’ve forgotten it.  The trick then was to go over all your steps in your mind until you come to the point where you left the object in question.  This is sort of like going back to the RAM (random access memory) in your mind and replaying it.  Well, in my new world, I go back into the RAM and find there is nothing there!  Sometimes I can’t even replay all the steps I took.  And in the case of going to a room and forgetting something, I’ll sometimes need to go back and forth two or three times before there is a result.  Heck, in desperation, I even go into other rooms thinking that maybe I went to the wrong room in the first place.  This is all very confusing to me.  Although there are no equivalent aides for this challenge, like glasses for eyes and hearing aides for ears, there is a new feature to our house that comes out of this forgetfulness and it is called ‘lists and notes’.  All I can say is, “thank you 3M for inventing the yellow sticky.”  However, I am a little concerned that, in time, our walls will look like new yellow-spotted wallpaper.

So there it is, my ‘New Ageing’.  By the way, I have noticed that when I talk to many others that are at my stage of life they say they can write the same story.  It is always gratifying to know that I’m in line with my fellow man.

Now, I’ve been sitting around writing this for a while so I’d better get going with some exercise, but, what the heck, the coffee shop will have a few of my buddies gathered, so I think I’ll put off exercise for a bit and go for a visit.

Ah, the new life in this New Age!