The Trials and Travails of Aging.

I am always delighted to share stories about my travels with Callie but thought that this morning I would interject a short piece on the trials and travails of aging. It is a privilege to grow older considering the alternative, but because I was so accident prone throughout most of my life, I am now suffering the consequences of these past injuries.

Tomorrow I have a neurosurgeon appointment to determine what can be done about the advancing numbness in both my hands and feet.* I suspect that two injuries, in particular, are to be blamed, but we shall see. Both were caused by numerous moves that were made in the past and my desire to do the heavy lifting all by myself. I was gifted with physical strength but not the good sense to ask for help when it was needed. I have wrestled with king size mattresses and table tops that weighed over 300 lbs and must now stare at them and resist the urge to force them into other positions all on my own. Asking for help isn’t one of my better features, but I had better learn to do so soon.

Just the other day I wanted to move my bed about 4 feet over to the other side of the room so that I could make space for a loveseat that once repositioned, would sit next to a balcony overlooking my desert pond. What could possibly go wrong? As I pushed and shoved and nothing happened, I looked down to find out that while the box springs and mattress were on wheels, the headboard was firmly anchored to the floor. I immediately felt a zing in my lower back and the numbness radiated all the way up to my knees. This is a flare-up of the old injury I received when forcing the 300-pound glass table top up and over and onto a rattan stand with my right thigh. As soon as I did it, I knew that I had hurt my back. What an idiot I am and you just have to wonder what it will take for me to once and for all get the lesson in life that I have to be more careful. Since moving furniture injuries top the list, automobile accidents and riding a free horse are much more exciting to talk about though!

Here is a quick rundown of some of the more memorable accidents I have experienced in the past!

I was hit by a car in 2nd grade while riding my bicycle; I came flying down an alleyway and pedaling as fast as I could to keep up with my older sister who was in front of me shouting, “clear if your hurry, dead if you don’t!” I attempted to make it across safely on my bike with a station wagon bearing down on me. Suffice it to say, I didn’t hurry fast enough and I suffered a head injury when the car and I collided and I was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. Yes, my sister got into a lot of trouble that day but I did survive to tell the tale and relish all the attention I received for being a victim of such abuse. We both laugh about it now!

A head-on collision occurred when I was 21 years old and I was trying to make a left-hand turn while returning home from work at a local hospital in my Ford Comet. The road had narrowed from a 4 lane to 2 and I was just far enough over, and daydreaming when the car in the opposite direction collided with mine. My car was totaled! It probably saved my life because it was built so compact and sturdy, but I only had a lap belt on and my forehead hit the steering wheel. This time, my life flashed before my eyes, but I, fortunately, lived to see another day. Once again, I was rushed to a hospital by ambulance and this time, with a serious gash above my left eye.

Many years later, and since I had not learned yet another vital lesson, (listen to your inner voice) my younger sister had heard about a free horse that we absolutely needed to check out! Who could resist a free horse? When we arrived to find out that the horse was stabled in a backyard in the middle of a neighborhood, there were plenty of warning signs that my sister and I both promptly ignored. For example, the saddle was ancient and the leather, stiff and cracked and the owner’s raced inside and closed the curtains as we got ready. I saddled up anyway with Gayle holding the reins and asking me if I was sure I wanted to do this. “Sure, I replied!” Once on his back he pranced around with pent-up friskiness and enthusiasm while I attempted to balance myself properly. We circled around several times as I pushed down hard on the stirrups; this was another fatal move on my part. I was soon thrown off backward of course, still gripping the saddle between my knees because the cinch strap had broken when the horse, just being a horse, had gently crow-hopped with delightful energy. I was not aware that I was going down, but I did throw my arm out instinctively behind me as I fell and when I landed, I heard the snap and crunch of bone and thought that I had refractured my tailbone, ( this is another story for another time!)

Once on the ground, I turned around to locate the source of the loud cracking sound, and noticed that my wrist was in the shape of a U and did not look normal to me. I quizzically looked around to figure out what had happened because I still had the saddle underneath me but the horse was standing on the other side of the pen with my sister. I then looked closer and upon inspection I saw that my sister was staring back at me with horror. I realized then that I had fractured my wrist and got up slowly before the pain descended and brushed myself off with my good hand. We were only told afterward that the gelding hadn’t been ridden in many years and was probably just super excited about the prospect of being rescued and a chance to escape its backyard pen.

This time I didn’t arrive at the hospital by ambulance but only because my sister had to nervously drive me there herself after grabbing a bag of frozen peas off of the stunned owners who were hiding in their kitchen. I am sure they were worried about being sued. She then placed the bag on my horrifically swollen wrist and we set off in a controlled panic to the hospital which was about 40 minutes away.

So the moral of the story is that if you are going to make it to old age and only have aches and pains to complain about, but thankfully not cancer or other diseases, you must learn from your past mistakes and try not to repeat them. I hope that this message becomes loud and clear to me before I succeed in accidentally killing myself. But who knows, only time will tell.

In the meantime, here are some cute images of Callie enjoying her life in the RV as I write and post photographs in 500px!

* The appointment was rescheduled for April. There was a mixup with my health insurance. I am a firm believer in healthcare for all. A healthy society and a strong middle-class are paramount to a thriving economy and country. Why is this so difficult to understand?