Friday, October 28, 2011

The Indignities of Aging Gracefully...

Last week I woke up and noticed that the inside corner of my right eye was a little sore and I couldn't remember if I or my children, the usual suspects, had done anything to it with a finger, elbow, skull or flying hoodie zipper, which is mostly how I get hurt these days!

I forgot about it until the the next morning when the whole area around my eye had puffed up so much it was as though someone had blown a perfect egg-shaped bubble into the vacuum now left by the lack of collagen there. And as I looked even more closely, the sore spot in the corner had become a red bump and there were now about six more rising around my face and mouth. A horror show right in time for Halloween, perfect!

Now assuming I had gotten bit by a spider, I immediately began my I-phone exam and proceeded to give myself yet another one of my most accurate "Dr. Google" self-diagnoses, finding all the sites that confirmed that yes, some hairy arachnid crawling all over my face in the middle of the night and angrily biting me seven times was a perfectly logical and plausible explanation of what had happened to the whole right side of my face.

A week later, those bumps and swelling had gotten even worse and more painful, so I finally decided to go to the doctor to make sure that angry spider had not given me an angry infection. Well, as it turns out, after eyeing me skeptically, asking me if I had actually seen or caught that supposed attacking spider and then following up with some other non-webMD questions, it turns out "Dr. Google" wasn't right after all! Go figure! And I went to Apple class for weeks for my degree!

As it turns out, it wasn't poisonous spider venom causing this at all but my very own over-40 body's very visual and Type-A reaction to whatever stress is going on in my life right now (that's a whole other blog!) in the form of canker sores all over my face! As if the indignity of stress and aging behind your clothes isn't enough, now I have to wear it out in the open, too?!

Now I know I'm going to get all kinds of weird looks providing you with this highly personal information, and I have to admit I toyed with the idea of putting a picture of myself on Facebook to share with my mom and dad and my other 2 friends but decided maybe that would be way less interesting than what my cat had for dinner last night. Besides, I was low on Blog material...

But a funny thing happened as I began to tell my other 40-something, non-internet followers; they began to confide similar embarrassing reactions or let's call them indignities to stress and aging, too! (Don't worry, I won't name names or tell anyone about the wart on your butt!) And so I realized that I can't be the only one that is losing this exhausting battle of trying to age gracefully!

In fact, I remember a couple of months ago, my husband and I were watching a comedy routine of Jake Johannsen, a popular stand up. He does a great bit on being married and in his 40s and imagining what it would be like if he and his wife got divorced. He pictures himself in a bar surrounded by young, pretty women and wonders what he could possibly tell them about himself as an older man to impress them. "What can I possibly say, that sometimes when I sneeze, I poop a little?!" We were crying we were laughing so hard, because if you've hit middle age and some of its unwelcome physical surprises like we have, then you know that sadly there is a little truth to that joke!

Now I know this isn't the first time I've written about getting older. But I thought this time I'd assemble a list of my favorite Top 9 Indignities of Aging Gracefully, or at least trying to! And I'm going with 9 because I want to hear a number 10 from all of you, as I'm sure you've got something to share!

So here goes:

1. Keeping a pair of magnifying readers all over the house, holding the menu 6 inches away from your face at the restaurant when you forget them and realizing that you are now requesting the Large Print edition of your next library book not because you won't have to be #327 in the request hold line, but because it really is easier to read!

2. Wishing the stores you like to shop in for fashionable 40-something clothes would stop playing their music so loud that you can't think or shop straight and then wishing your husband and kids would speak a little louder because you can't seem to hear them anymore!

3. Making lists for everything so you remember; where you last stored something so you can find it again, what drawer the Tupperware lids are in, your 50 passwords, the gift you bought early for Christmas and where you put it, and what you want to tell your husband when you finally get to sit down and chat uninterrupted and hopefully still awake!

4. Wondering as you lay down in bed if this is finally the night that you will sleep through without a pet, child, money, career, parenting, friend, marriage, Facebook or smoke alarm battery dilemma keeping you awake or waking you up at 3am, that fateful hour of over-40 insomniacs...

5. Hair: finding more of it over your lips and under your chin, getting excited when you realize the hair that just fell out of your head was a gray one as long as it wasn't your last hair all together, and then getting bummed when you realize that those gray hairs are now showing up in places south of your head! Really, already?!

6. Realizing that at your current age, your parents were about to attend the wedding of their 27-year old daughter (yes, me!) while you are still arranging playdates and soccer schedules and then wondering if maybe you really will be in a wheel chair after calculating by the time all your kids finally graduate from college and get married!

7. Wishing everyone you've ever met and know would just start wearing name tags as you realize with panic that you are drawing a complete blank on your friend of five years' name when she walks up to you on the playground and praying it comes back to you in the next 30 seconds because you have to introduce her to your new friend!

8. Realizing that yes, you really did just fart uncontrollably as you were having a conversation with your friend, relative, a stranger, your boss or a client you are trying to impress and continuing your chat as though nothing just happened while panicking and praying that they didn't hear or smell anything!

9. Realizing how silly you must look to your young high school babysitter when you come home tipsy from a night out with your spouse and friends as you fork over $50 and start asking her those same stupid "what do you want to be when you grow up?" questions you got asked when you babysat and earned $1 an hour, didn't leave any dirty dishes in the sink and just wanted the drunk parent to be quiet so you could go home and call your friend on your rotary phone and then go to sleep?

10.  It's all you!

Now, if you'd like to share any of your own irritating indignities of age for the #10 spot, just look for me on the playground; I will be the one wearing my name tag, glasses to hide a puffy eye, "spider bites" on the right side of my face, and maybe an unplucked chin hair or two. But remember, don't stand too close, because sometimes when I sneeze...!