Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Mid-Life, or, So This is 50

I guess I'm middle-aged.

The way I feel lately, though, I think I'm more toward the end of mid-life and closer to the beginning of old-age, than the reverse.

I"m 52. My eye-sight is very poor, I have a chronically bothersome tooth (with cap on it), a bunion that has a life of its own, and 5-10 pounds of unwanted weight that just won't budge.

The thing is, these phenomena are fairly recent.

Until I was about 48, I felt great. I felt much like I always had, through adulthood.

My weight was steady, and I was slim; slim without thinking about it. I had no aches, from bunions, teeth or otherwise. And although I wore contact lenses to correct my vision, my eye-sight was still OK.

Then, I approached 50, went through menopause, and BANG. I was old.

I can barely see now, even with contacts. That's because I've become so far-sighted that I need to wear reading glasses, while wearing my contacts, in order to see anything close-up. Without contacts, I try wearing progressive-lens glasses, but they fail miserably.

One eye has marked astigmatism, only partially corrected by toric contact lenses, and the other is full of floaters that block my view. You can't do anything about floaters. And the older you get, the more likely you are to have them, little bits of inner eyeball floating around in the jelly of your eye. Whee.

My tooth cracked a few years ago, as I was chewing candy and waiting for a flight in the Kookytown airport. I ended up getting the tooth fixed while on vacation, but despite repeated tweaks by my dentist, it has never been the same. To wit, it hurts every time I bite down on it.

As you can imagine, it sucks to eat food when you also experience pain while eating. Despite this fact, I've gained weight over the last couple of years, and now am 10 pounds heavier than I ever was in the last 15 years.

In the past, if I gained a bit of weight, I'd lose it. Easily, immediately. I'd eat less, exercise a bit more and voila, off the excess weight would fly.

Not now. Now, I can starve and work out, starve and work out, only to see no results on the scale. It sticks like the proverbial glue.

The bunion has grown exponentially during the last few years. Although it doesn't hurt too much, it's causing difficulty in fitting shoes, and I no longer want to wear sandals in summer, due to its looming size.

At 50, the medical community starts running tests on you. One of the first is a demand that you undergo a colonoscopy.  I repeat, whee. Of course, as a female, I've been undergoing mammograms and pap tests for decades. These too, must continue. Various immunizations must be updated: polio, tetanus, etc. And new ones rear their heads:  have you heard about the new shot to protect against shingles, an apparently extremely painful condition that can surface in mid-life, if you've ever had chicken-pox?

And then there's energy. I don't have it. I can't concentrate and learn like I used to be able. While the fat sticks like glue to my body, very little sticks in my brain. A brain that used to be like a steel trap. It's just regular memory deterioration, but it, too, sucks. 

Come the evenings, I am so tired I don't want to go out. If we have evening outings, I try to sneak an afternoon nap in, so I can stay awake long enough to socialize.

I won't even begin to describe the insomnia that stalks me during the nights.

I guess what I'm trying to really say with all this, is that middle age is a definite condition, and I've hit it. And I didn't expect it. I really didn't understand that such noticeable, marked changes would happen over a relatively short time-frame, and that I would become someone I'd never been before, someone I don't recognize as the old me.

It sucks a bit, and I'm not liking it, and don't want to accept it.

But there's nothing to be done, except to try to continue to hold back the tide. So I try to eat well, and do my exercise to stay sort-of limber and ache-free.

What else can you do?

If I'd known this was coming, I'd have cherished more about my old life: my carefree, pain-free body and mind. So that's my advice to anyone younger than me.

Don't waste your youth obsessing about silly things. Work hard, play hard, don't sweat the small stuff.

You're going to have plenty of time to regret this-or-that, to think about what could-or-should-have been, when you can no longer breeze through the day. Enjoy! If you don't like something, try to fix it, and if you can't, ignore it!

And I mean that.


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