Not for Sissies

So the last six months in particular, I have had a few odd breakouts of ailments including two bouts of bacterial infection in my sinuses. Don’t worry, this won’t be a list of what’s wrong with me; I am fundamentally pretty healthy.

I am not used to getting sick and I am not used to be knocked out and fatigued when I am sick. I am an energetic, active person and this is alien to me. Yes, I know, it has only been a week, but really.

Nobody really tells you or describes to you the specific and detailed changes that happen to you as your body ages. Maybe that is for the best. Maybe if we knew in advance, we would live in terror or perhaps take the easy way out. I don’t know.

It starts in such a subtle way, little things you don’t really notice at first. Then the changes start to cumulate. Some bother me more than others. It bothers me that my skin is no longer smooth and beautiful; my arms and legs look as my grandmother’s did. My neck which is long and was beautiful is now pouchy and inescapably old. All the sun damage from long ago is visible. Arthritis has snuck in a bit to various parts of my body. It doesn’t hold me back but it does mean I don’t spring out of bed in the morning, I stretch and give myself a minute.

On my bad days, I completely understand people’s compulsion to “correct” surgically the signs of aging; the things they don’t like about themselves. I sometimes think there are just a few small things…

The funny thing is, I loved my Grandmother more than almost anyone and her skin being crinkly didn’t bother me one little bit. And when I look at my face on a good day, at the lines on it, I think I have earned them -laughing and crying. When I am able to be kind to myself I think I have used this body hard and long and by some miracle it serves me still and mostly pretty well.

I'm glad I didn't know that growing old was not for sissies. I am also glad to know that I am not a sissy. I am working at aging as gracefully as I possibly can because I am keenly aware that it is so much more wonderful than the… Click To Tweet

I’m glad I didn’t know that growing old was not for sissies. I am also glad to know that I am not a I’m glad I didn’t know that growing old was not for sissies. I am also glad to know that I am not a sissy. I am working at aging as gracefully as I possibly can because I am keenly aware that it is so much more wonderful than the alternative. I am not done yet. sissy. I am working at aging as gracefully as I possibly can because I am keenly aware that it is so much more wonderful than the alternative. I am not done yet.

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On Becoming September 2016

It is an odd thing, this life.  Just when you think things are settled and you feel as if you have a sense of knowing where it is all going, BAM it changes.  And even stranger, just when you feel as if you know who you are, BAM, you are shedding your behaviors, people and places like a snake shedding its skin.

I think being part of a couple gives you this odd sense of safety, of invisibility and of belonging.  No matter how difficult your relationship may be, you are not “single” in a world of doubles.  So what to do? Shed my “double” skin and set about discovering where I am in the world, in my life.

I was listening to public radio and heard a story about an amazing exhibit of Matisse and his various contemporaries, essentially his career, being brought to the art museum in Oklahoma City from Paris.  Without stopping to think about how odd that might sound, I made a reservation to go to Oklahoma City for the weekend.  I am, after all, single.  My son is a grown, sort of, man.  I can do whatever I want and could afford to do it.

And before I could get too scared, I went.  And I went all over, did many things, ate, listened to music, visited art, gardens and memorials, talked to strangers and had a great time.  People are curious about you when you go places by yourself, especially as a woman of a certain age, and that makes it easy to talk.

I have a most dear friend who, when I say I am afraid to do something, or can’t do something, says “remember who you are, you can do anything”.  What a wonderful thing to be reminded with love and admiration.   So it isn’t really about “becoming” it’s about “getting back” to the self you lost, suppressed, ignored, forgot about.  It is about doing the things you love, the things that bring you joy; it’s about rediscovering those things and the pleasure they bring.  Or as my brothers would say, it’s about getting your groove back.

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Ad Culture in America and other addictions

For some time now it has become obvious that ads are targeting the wallets of baby boomers.  No longer do you see prime time ads for diapers and other baby and toddler accoutrements or youthful clothing (unless you are watching Stacey London), for example.  I assume that many of the “baby” ads are on during the day as the bad assumption that all good mothers stay home and watch soap operas still seems to hold some sway in this country.  Even most of the cleaning goods ads seem to be on at odd times with the exception of those that are geared to us “older” folks and our limitations.

Now, almost without exception, we seem to be bombarded with ads for products for women who have urinary urgency or accidents, for getting and keeping an erection (and no, the women having sex with those guys do NOT look like the women in those commercials).  Likewise, commercial for “manly” incontinence underwear, hair replacement, hair color to correct gray, supplements for every ailment, pills for everything under the sun including vaginal dryness; all of which have hideous side effects.  These side effects, to my mind, are far worse than the ailments that they are intended to correct/cure/affect.

So I was watching television the other night, thinking about these very things when a commercial came on that I had not seen before.  Mind you there are lots of laxative, bowel, digestive and urinary tract commercials but this one stood out.  It was a commercial for a laxative marketed to relieve opiod dependence related constipation.  What?  I thought.  The news is full of the “new” American heroin problem.  First, heroin is not a new problem but its prevalence among new classes of users has brought new attention to it.  Today the news is all about those who become dependent on pain medication and when they either can’t get enough or can’t afford it, they turn to the cheaper alternative, heroin.  And we know that pain medication can be obtained from multiple doctors since mostly they don’t talk to each other although some states, mine included, are getting smarter about tracking these things, making it harder to scam the system.  All of these drugs cause constipation apparently. So some bright ad person’s idea is to take advantage of this new scourge of the dwindling middle class and market to addicts to alleviate this particular side effect of their addiction.

Oy vey.  It seems that the money spent on this particular advertising would be better spent on treatment but greed is the American way, especially if you can capture a few of the baby boomer dollars.

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blogging is weird

So… once again, life has intruded on life and I have been away too long.  Here on some part of the downhill side of life there is so much to do that it is hard to know where to start, or continue.  Bloggimg is weird because it feels very private when you are doing it.  But you know, somewhere in the back of your mind, that there is at least the possibility that someone you have never met will read what you wrote.  It is a most public activity in the end.  So, all you readers out in radioland, I am hoping to be back.

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Its All My Fault

Ok, I’m a slacker. Life got busy and I abandoned my blog, two whole weeks. Bad blogger! So I am off the Walmart kick, at least for now. It seems to me that, frequently, it is all my fault. This is what comes of benmg a “sandwich generation” caregiver. I have learned to accept blame without really taking it on. I used to argue about these things but it isn’t worth it as it is crystal clear that I can’t win any argument on this score. Whenever my dad and I get into an argument of any kind his brain seems to skip to a new subject whenever we are about to arrive at a dead end or he is going to be wrong. He just gets confused and starts talking about something else. Mighty convenient I say. Our most recent example. I was going through his checkbook for the eight thousandth time trying to find the error. I notice that he was still paying union dues to a number of locals. So I ask him why. Other than his “retired status” dues from the union that pays his pension, there didn’t seem much point. My dad says he pays his union dues because he still wants to work. Now he is eighty two, he is quite slight and hasn’t worked for at least five years. He doesn’t remember that he hasn’t worked for five years. He thinks he needs more money so he should work. He doens’t need more money and he can’t work, although he is pretty healthy; his work involved serious physical labor. So, he says, he can’t work because he doesn’t have a car. After his last hospitalization he stopped driving. The reason he doesn’t have a car is because I am driving his car. In his mind I have stolen his car. Never mind that the doctor says that he cannot drive again. Because he hallucinates, can’t remain focussed or concentrate on what he is doing. He hates the doctors I took him to because he believes they are in a conspiracy with me to steal his car; to say he is crazy. He claims that he failed the neuropsych tests because he was having a bad day and he “has always been bad in math”. He believes the doctor he never met before rigged the test. He still speaks of the car as his prize possession. He believes I am keeping him here because I want his car. Now, while it is nice to have no car payment, the car just isn’t all that. I have tried to explain to him that a nine year old, stick shift station wagon with a hundred and twenty three thousand miles on it just would not be sufficient to convince me to do this. But it is all my fault that he can’t work, can’t drive, can’t fly an airplane. That’s ok, I don’t mind.

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