Ready, Set, …

My father never, and I have carefully chosen the word never, complained about a physical ailment and with Parkinson’s disease, he had a lot of them to choose from. One example of his will power: when having his teeth worked on, like being drilled upon for an hour by the dentist, he refused Novocain. Nothing, just teeth and drill.

I am just about his polar opposite. I complain. I keep moving forward, but I am bitching all the way. Some of us senior citizens are just that way I guess. The guy that operated on my knee three times did tell me once that I had a high threshold for pain because I always waited so long before coming in for an evaluation. He kind of said it as if I might be stupid too.

So with that as context, here is a recent observation I have made upon the aging process: it takes longer to get ready to go somewhere than it used to. Let me describe it.

I used to just brush my teeth and be gone. Now, just with proper dental care alone, I first have to floss, then I use a water pick, then I use an electric toothbrush, and then I have to follow that up with a good long mouth rinse specifically formulated for poor gums. Otherwise, all my teeth will fall out at once.

If I happen to look in the mirror as I am doing all this, and how could one not with that much time, I will certainly notice some nose hair stragglers which require removal with an electric trimmer or by manual extraction (without Novocain). Of course, that leads to the discovery that the hair growing on the edges of and inside my ears is about to rival what remains on the top of my head and that requires additional resources, skills, and time.

Now, if I am going to interact with people, I need to put in my hearing aids which require their own cleaning from the last use. My family, who knows more about what is good for me than Wikipedia knows about Covid-19, 1960’s rock stars, and Buddhism – combined – are convinced that my cognitive abilities are or certainly will be (I think behind my back they say “are”) declining due to my hearing loss. So I “damn well better be wearing those hearing aids.”

Since the knee recently is doing that bone over bone slip that usually only happened at night in bed, waking me up with sudden pain and an “agh” gasps from me which is different from the nightly leg cramp events which produces a more “oh,oh, ooh, oh” sound, I also need to put on a knee brace so I don’t fall down while shopping for the latest over-the -counter, and not FDA approved, pain killer.

Of course, it goes without saying I need to find my eyeglasses before leaving the house, one pair for driving and another pair for reading. That usually takes some time.

Slipping on my socks, before putting on some very specific shoes for a heel spur that cuts like a knife, I often notice that my toenails need some maintenance. I will not submit you to the description of my toenails; instead I will wait for Halloween to tell you that horrendous and spooky tale. Hopefully, you will have an empty stomach.

Finally, I have added a new process in getting ready and that is taping up my left thumb to support it from “thumb arthritis.” Who knew such a condition existed? Looking back, I noticed that playing the guitar was getting harder and harder as I couldn’t put enough pressure to play chords. Finally, I must have hit the Tipping Point, as now it feels like my thumb is broken. I find myself awake at night trying to deal with the pain, like right now. Where the hell is that Novocain? Interestingly enough, I was told if you connect your thumb and index finger together and can form a circle, you don’t have arthritis. If the opening looks like mine, you’re screwed. I can’t pick up a tissue with the left thumb right now. It hurts, a lot.

So now, we’re almost ready to leave the house and then you get that funny little urge. My dear auntie used to call it “Doing big business.” You do not dare leave the house without tending to that funny little urge – and that could take more time than you anticipated- or you might find yourself holding some poor store clerk at gun point to get the keys to their “Sorry, We Don’t Have Public Restrooms Available” toilet they have hidden somewhere in their establishment. “Put the bathroom keys, in my hands, nice and slow, …easy on my thumb, I have thumb arthritis, hurts like a bastard….nobody gets hurt if you just do what I say. I’m not really such a bad guy, just getting older. Okay, you over there, walk me to your restroom, no you better run me there, oh no, slow down, agh, my knee just went out. Where’s my glasses? I’m wearing them? Okay don’t be a smart ass. You will get old someday. What did you say? My hearing aids aren’t working. Oh God, that heel spur…. Hey, you got any Novocain on you?”