One of younger adult's favorite rebukes of elders is that we talk about our health, or lack thereof, too much. This is not always an unfair stereotype but Crabby Old Lady has had a revelation about it:
No one told us that in old age we would be condemned to constant noise in our ears, a new mole or other kind of skin eruption just about every week and that our ability to sleep through the night would go all to hell.
Most of these changes are merely annoying and don't rise to the level of medical intervention or even discussion in the short period of time most people are allowed with their physicians these days.
Recently, a 78-year-old friend told Crabby about this conversation with his doctor who had just finished examining a tender spot at the base of one of his thumbs:
FRIEND: Anything we should do?
DOCTOR: (Shrugging) Pain meds. [Pause] If it spreads to other joints, I can refer you to a rheumatologist. [Another pause] Some conditions arrive with age..."
Yes, some things in old age don't warrant much attention - at least, not professional attention.
TGB reader Harold, who blogs at The Way I See It, acknowledged this in a comment when some irritations of old-age were discussed here more than a year ago:
”When I do go in for my annual check ups someone always asks if I have any complaints, and I don't know what to say. Since I've never been this old before I don't know what it's supposed to feel like, but maybe it's supposed to feel like this.”
Exactly. Through most of Crabby's life, the ailments of old age didn't come up much in conversation and when they did, if she was as dismissive of her elders' health conversation (a not unreasonable, if shameful, assumption) as today's children and grandchildren are of current elders', why would she know what old age feels like, what is normal and what is not?
Recently, Crabby Old Lady had a mild disagreement with her doctor. What he called a cough that might need treatment Crabby calls throat-clearing that comes and goes throughout the year.
Some time ago Crabby was relieved to find an explanation online: glands that secrete lubricating mucous around vocal chords decrease with age. Drinking water helps reduce the throat clearing so Crabby has filed this one with her growing list of (mostly) ignorable ailments.
There is hardly any end to these petty annoyances: general aches and pains with no explanation, constipation, sore muscles, stiff joints, insomnia, excess gassiness, spontaneous nose bleeds, hair loss where we want to keep it, new hair where we don't want it, fading vision, fading hearing, weight gain, dry skin, dropping things, minor forgetfulness and...
Recently, another of Crabby's complaints was confirmed:
Netflix sent a message announcing that The Manchurian Candidate had been added to the service's movie list for April. Crabby assumed it was the remake starring Denzel Washington and she was not wrong about that. But she was sure surprised to see that it had been released in 2004.
If you had asked Crabby, she would have said it had been in theaters a couple of years ago, not THIRTEEN years ago.
This is a change that hardly anyone places in the aggravation column (but Crabby does) – that time slips by at such an accelerating rate of speed now, everything from a decade or two ago feels like yesterday. Crabby no longer trusts any time estimate she makes that is older than a month or so and even then, she can be off by a year or two sometimes.
It's no wonder old people talk about their health a lot: it's because no one warned them about these surprise, minor but irritating manifestations of age. No one said that if you live long enough, here is how your life will change.
Crabby would like to have had some advance notice. But would she have paid attention? Would she even have remembered the notice when her time arrived? Probably not.
Now, however, Crabby Old Lady gives herself permission to ignore all the mean jokes about the afflictions of age and talk about them anytime she wants – at least among her peers.