From Where I Sit – Best Before

Have you ever felt like your “best before” date has come and gone? I certainly have, on occasion.

Most days, though, I think I’m handling this whole aging business quite gracefully, especially when I consider the alternative. Last year a painter friend of mine died in a motor vehicle accident just days after her 50th birthday. Deb will never see her kids marry or hold a grandchild or take another trip with Gord or live in their dream home. So most days I feel damn lucky. As someone once said, any day above ground is a good day.

Yet this getting old kind of snuck up on me. Gradually I’ve learned to accept the signs and signals that things aren’t like they used to be. I’ve stopped talking about being a child bride of 19.

I’ve accepted the bifocals–what choice did I have–because reading is such a big part of my life.

I’ve accepted that a chiropractor, masseuse, and physiotherapist are part of my healthcare team as I deal with sciatica and a rotator cuff problem.

If I had a nickel for everyone I know who has orthotics for her foot problems I’d be a rich woman. And I’d probably pay it all back for an uninterrupted, bathroom-free sleep.

Now I’m contending with my first arthritic joint. How can one tiny joint in a baby finger hurt that much? Will the glucosamine I’m taking reverse or at least halt the progress of this insidious ailment? Who knows?

I’ve accepted the irregularity of my menstrual cycle and hope I’m spared the horrendous menopause experience some women undergo. This winter I thought I had a hot flash: then I realized Hilary had cranked up the thermostat while I was wearing my ‘Murray Smith cardigan’. Whew, close call.

I’ve accepted that it can take hours or even days to remember someone’s name or the sequence of events or where I’ve stashed something for safekeeping.

I know that mammograms are now a regular part of my health regime along with a physical, pap smear, blood and urine work.

It shocks me that when I’m with friends more often than not the conversations turn to comparison of ailments and test results. We compare notes on pharmaceuticals, home remedies, alternative medicine. We laugh at ourselves and our declining state. We bemoan the difficulty in finding the right doctor. You know the one:.with just the right mix of expertise, caring and TIME to hear our concerns, spoken or otherwise. Time to explain causes, options, prognoses.

What I can’t abide are the unreasonable and dangerous waiting times for diagnostic tests like MRIs or specialist appointments.

Maybe what aging gracefully boils down to is contained in the Serenity Prayer. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” At least that’s the straw I’m clinging to, from where I sit.

*Reprinted with permission