Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Chronology of Deterioration, Part I

P learning to control lip leak and J with her own invention of the nose tampon.

SOMEWHERE after fifty-five-ish one reaches the Stages of Deterioration, also known as the big D. One morning you wake up and you can't read anymore. You rush off to the eye doctor and he says, "Well, that's what happens."

That's what happens?

Uh huh, that's all they can tell us. And it's a hot ride downhill from there. You not only can't see as clearly as you did yesterday, you can't hear as well, or get out of bed with the same vigor, or get up off the floor without getting to your knees first and heaving yourself upright. You look in the mirror and it's as though you've just washed your face and can't do a thing with it, all of your vital parts have headed south on the express train and in the process certain body parts have doubled in number—chins, for example, or butt cheeks. Yesterday you had one chin and two buttocks; today you have two chins and four cheeks, three side grips, two distinct belly rolls, and upper arms that look like balloons with slow leaks.

You have pains in places you know shouldn't hurt, patches of itchy skin, spots of various colors in previously unspotted places. Your memory isn't what it used to be and besides that, your memory isn't what it used to be.

All things being equal, (this blog is not for those who die suddenly), the years from fifty-five-ish to when you're finally OLD are a series of little degradations. One word of advice. Hang onto your sense of humor. You're going to need it. When all the things you've taken for granted—your figure, your teeth, your eyesight, your control over bodily fluids (see photo above)—and your need for all those things that you (and everyone else) have mistaken for identity markers disappear, it's just you and whatever makes you belly laugh. And if you can't laugh, you'll just get depressed and either rush off to the first plastic surgeon that your fingers walk to in the yellow pages or you'll stay home all the time because your nostrils leak.

Don't think you are not going to deteriorate. You can't cheat it. But relax, it doesn't happen all at once, just mostly all at once. We (J and P) are here to share with you all the things our mothers never told us (or maybe they did but we didn't listen to them) about the aging process. We're both in our 60s, both gradually turning into people we don't recognize on the outside but still hanging on to our prime 40s on the inside. We compare notes constantly.

P bewildered: "I blew my nose this morning and I got this wicked sort of scraping pain in the back of my throat."

J in commiseration: "I know. It's like you blew your nose and you missed and the air got sucked in from the wrong place."


J in dismay: "I've discovered you have to put your bra where your boobs are. Even if you tighten the straps and try to haul them up to where they should be, they just fall out from underneath and you're constantly having to make adjustments."

P sighing: "We need to invent bra strap extensions."

We thought it might be helpful for those approaching the big D to be aware of some of the pitfalls of the aging process. We’ll post them as they happen to us and figure you can either sympathize or empathize, depending on how far along the geriatric path you are.

P & J