Thursday, June 2, 2011

What’s The First Part To Go?


You kids don’t need to read this because you are invincible. I was too at that age, or so I thought, but now I look at the other side of the roller coaster and wonder.

What will be the first part to go?

You think about things like this when the most common topic of conversation with your friends is health. Everyone has a pain or a pill or a procedure they are taking. We talk about our parents, if they are still around, and foresee the inevitable end.

Medicare, which sounded so foreign not too long ago, has focused on the minds of the boomers as they try to reach the golden ring. Will it be around for the kids?? Hey, they will have to figure it out themselves, if they get off the video games. Besides we had to think about someone pushing the button so health care was the least of our worries.

So as the boomers retire by the thousands everyday, they will try to continue to live by the mantra of “Sex, drugs, and rock and roll” but in reality the sex will have to be enhanced by the drugs and the rock will be in a chair and the roll will be down the long white corridor under florescent lighting.

Have any of you old guys and gals started to figure what will go first? More than that, what will it do to you and your “quality” of life?

As we all know, the aches and pains of everyday activities are more predominant. It’s easy to get down with your bad self, but it is harder to get back up. That tennis elbow pain comes more often with the remote than with exercising. Some of the foods we loved to experiment with have become bland only so we can sleep and not wander down the hallway so many times at night.

Maybe it will be the knees? It will make walking up and down stairs difficult or impossible and it will eliminate playing soccer on weekends.

Maybe it will be the liver? When internal organs start shutting down due to misuse or neglect is will be hard to repair.

Maybe it will be the eyes? Yikes!! We can tolerate so many discomforts, but as we know, those of us wearing glasses, that reading is more difficult. We even associate blurry shapes with letters as we adjust our bi-focal lenses and wipe our eyes hoping to refocus. But what happens when they get worse? When television becomes radio, when reading or viewing the Internet is out of the question, when finding the medicine cabinet is done by feel and not by the common recognition of shapes.

Morbid? Sure, but I ride a bike. I ride to the store to gather my food. I ride to get exercise. I ride to meet friends. I ride to purchase clothing and other necessaries.

And if I was to break a leg……?

So if something like that was to happen, then what?

Sure it seems crazy to you because you might have a neighbor or a family member to call to come by and take care of you, but what if you did not?

Think of the isolation that is so similar to many in hospices now.

So as important as writing a will or getting your affairs in order, think about what you will do when the “parts” start to not function.

P.S. Last week, after a brief but ultimately successful vacation, I got back to my bucket list and ordered rugs, a dinning room table and wrapped bundles of dirt to be delivered. They all arrived in pallets and placed in the street in front of my house. I pulled out my little red flyer wagon and began to move the dirt. 40 lb. bags, 2 each, were placed in the wagon and pulled to the back yard. After the first two trips, I decided to put on a back brace I had not used in 20 years. The wagon, on the strain of the dirt began to fall apart, but the platform held, so the process back and forth, pulling the dirt and dropping it into a hole, continued. The last two bags of dirt finally ended the little red flyer wagon and had to be carried one by one and dumped.
The purpose of this long story is the next day, and for days continuing, my back decided it had enough of that and told me so. The simplest movement brought shocking pain and even sitting was uncomfortable. Having had back problems before, I decided to walk it out. Using my best Frankenstein impression, I shuffled my way around the neighborhood in 95-degree heat while doubling my consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Better today but still not right, I look at all the projects I want and need to do and wait. They can wait.

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