Challenges of an aging carcass

AT 73, I FIND myself faced with challenges.

bodyGetting older is an interesting process. I do not recommend it, but it is interesting. It only recently began to pummel me. That began at 73. It will, of course, vary with other individuals.

Up until 73, there were physical changes, but they were almost entirely a reduction in energy, nothing extreme but noticeable. I passed my 73rd in August, and that’s when things racheted up a few nasty notches.

First the foot problem, which I wrote about last September. That appears to be permanent. It’s only an issue for about a minute after I stand up after being seated a spell, but I’ll never again be able to flee from someone or something chasing me. With an ax or an appetite.

I am easily nabbed now.

Then there was the back issue, which I wrote about last month. Not the first time I’ve suffered that problem, but it’s never lasted so long, a tad over two weeks of Hell. Usually, it self-cures in four to five days. Big difference.

It was the back issue that knocked me upside the head.

I had been getting lazier by the day, and that needed to change.

For decades, I’ve done regular, moderate exercise, and I eat healthy. For these reasons I have been svelte for almost 40 years. But my regular, moderate exercise had been very gradually diminishing. I knew I had to change my habits.

Old routine: 20-minute, brisk, morning walk around the neighborhood plaza Monday-Friday. I often cheated on the frequency. And I have a home gym set, a big fancy one I bought about decade ago. I was doing a 10-minute weight routine three mornings a week. Again, cheating was not unknown.

New routine: 20-minute, brisk, morning walk around the neighborhood plaza Monday-Friday with no more cheating on the frequency. A second brisk walk around the big plaza downtown following my afternoon coffee. Weight routine on the gym set every weekday morning. No cheating allowed. Yoga. Well, that’s what I call it, but it’s actually two sets of stretching, one in the morning, one in the late afternoon. Weekends off.

I was losing my flexibility to a notable degree. Thus the stretching, which helps a lot.

I’ll close now with the following words from Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. The “good night” being, well, you know …

On being a (temporary) cripple

OUR BACKBONES are ticklish things. Sometimes they go out, as mine did last Monday morning while I was sitting right here at my desktop computer near the crack of dawn. Here’s what happened:

I coughed. It was a bush-league cough, a cough so trivial that it would have registered minus-5 on the Richter Scale. But that little cough combined in some weird way with how my torso was situated in the chair.


I knew exactly and instantly what it was because I’m no stranger to my spine going south. Oh, nooooo, I moaned to myself.

I tried to stand up. Jesus, Joseph and Mary! I did not get far. I slowly returned to the chair. And I’ve been mostly home-bound ever since.

I’m no stranger to this, but it’s been fairly rare in recent years. In my 40s, the last decade of my previous marriage, I had this problem often. It coincided with the gradual collapse of said matrimony, indicating there’s occasionally a psychological element to the issue. The same is thought by some to be true with rheumatoid arthritis.

I do not have rheumatoid arthritis. Knock on wood.

On getting divorced from my last wife, the back attacks ended abruptly, and I went years without a recurrence. I still occasionally have the problem. Maybe once every two or so years. I don’t think there’s a psychological element now because I’m a happy boy.

941cdfc49a1d5bab536a76e38eb102c5It invariably starts with a funny twist that I do out of inattention. A cough or sneeze can also nail me.

Doctors say that if it lasts less than three months, it’s acute. If more than three months, it’s chronic. Mine have always lasted 4-5 days with one exception when it lasted two weeks. That was decades ago in New Orleans.

As I write this, last evening, I’m winding up my fifth day, and I’m feeling better but not home free by any means.

One aid I’ve enjoyed this time that I never had before is one of those girdle-type things that weight-lifters and warehouse guys wear. It’s is very helpful. My child bride bought it last year for gym use.

The internet says that 90 percent of the time, these things cure themselves with no medical assistance. That’s always been my experience, and I hope it continues, but my advancing age could complicate things.

It hasn’t so far. I’d like to say this is a pain in the ass, but it’s actually a pain in the back. If you’ve never had this problem, you’re one lucky person. It hurts!