May 13, 2009

Aging is Not for the Faint of Heart

I have been quite jealous of all my fellow slicers, writing away--committed and fluent, while I felt like I should be committed to the Loony Bin.

I know it all started with the glasses. I got my first pair somewhere around 35 or 36--just reading glasses, optional really. Then I had to have them to read, and then to work on the computer, and although I should probably be wearing them round the waking clock, I don't, keeping a pair everywhere I really need to see (kitchen, laundry room, bedroom, computer, and in the purse).

I discovered that glasses aren't like eyes that can see. There's a thing called focal depth or length or something and the machines that grind the glass in some factory over in China or maybe downtown LA, predetermine what I'll see and how magnified it is. I kept taking in my hand stitchery to my eye doctor, showing him that I couldn't see to thread the needle. But if I make it for that, he said, you won't be able to read. I persisted on this, bringing in rulers to show him reading depth vs. sewing depth. I think I gave up and now do the Old Lady thing of moving the hands in and out, finding bright lights to sit under while I sew, and tilting my head back to get the more powerful lower half of the bifocals engaged.

So when another body system seemingly went out of whack this spring, they prescribed statins and assured me that most people tolerate them very well. I won't catalogue the ways I didn't tolerate them very well, but that crushing fatigue I felt? How I fell asleep at lunch more than I cared to do? How I was in bed, exhausted but not sleepy at 8:30 p.m.? How I started throwing things out of my life to be able to continue teaching? One side effect of many.

So I went dark. One side effect leads to another, and when another vital body system went haywire, I called a halt to the statins. Within days, I didn't have to nap every day. I'm still dealing with a few lingering side effects, but they've dwindled.

I've realized that every year from now until the end of my life, Mother Nature will throw another thing at me. "Oh," she'll say, "looks like you got your balance on that one. Good. Sending another one right over," and I'll wobble around, making adjustments, figuring out how to function well while hobbled by this or that. And then when I finally get my balance, another will come.

Getting old isn't for sissies, I've seen on bumper stickers. My mother says it more gracefully: Aging is not for the faint of heart." Yeah, sure. I just never thought it would apply to me.


  1. I absolutely understand. I have not trouble falling asleep but can't seem to sleep much past 5am - how maddening this has become. I didn't know that a side effect of statins is fatigue. May need to look into that.

  2. Well, medicine isn't always the cure, this is for sure! Hope you feel better soon!

    And you can make my 1-2-3 cookies with vegetable oil and egg substitute. :) I am guessing this of course.