Been doing a lot of whining about my bad back and I'm sorry about that. It's not the pain that's getting to me though. That's mainly just annoying. What's driving me crazy is the way it's limited me. I can't do a lot of the things that I not only could do but enjoyed doing. Take long walks. Putter around the yard. Sit and read for hours. Stand up.
Yesterday I was out on my bike for the first time in over a year and it dawned on me. It hasn't been as much the matter that I can't do these things as that I've been avoiding doing theses things, telling myself to wait until my back feels better. Which of course has contributed to making it feel worse. So what's really making me nuts is that I've let it turn me into a big baby.
I've seen the doctor. He ordered X-rays. They came back a couple of weeks ago. No slipped discs. No fractures. I was expecting to be carted off for immediate surgery.
"You have a touch of arthritis," the doctor said with the same shrug in his voice he'd have had if he'd been assuring me that what I was convinced was pneumonia was a case of the sniffles.
"Arthritis!" I yelped, manfully.
"My grandmother had arthritis! It crippled her. She had to have both her wrists replaced. They were talking about doing her knees and her hips when she died."
"How old was she when she died?"
"You're a long way from that stage."
"But I've got it! I've got arthritis in my back!"
"What's that mean? A touch? Is that like a touch of cancer?"
"Then what is it?"
"It's a touch. It happens. It's no more than I'd expect in someone your age."
"Your age. You're not a kid anymore."
This seems like a good place to mention that my doctor is ten years younger than someone my age. I didn't sock him.
"You don't understand, doc. I'm not my age. I've never been my age!"
"We all feel that way."
Did I mention he's ten years younger than me? I still didn't sock him.
"It's not like that," I said desperately. "It's not vanity or denial. It's a fact. I'm one of those people who don't age at the normal rate. Like Paul Newman. He didn't get old until he got sick. Or Catherine Deneuve!"
"Not vanity you say?"
"I'm serious. I've always been younger than my chronological age, which was embarrassing when I was a teenager but started working out well when I hit middle age and all my friends began falling apart. I turned forty and nothing happened. Nobody believes me when they hear how old I am. I don't even need reading glasses. My prescription has barely changed since I was fourteen! I can tote barges, lift bales! I can vault parking meters! Or I could until my back started acting up. I'm telling you! I've never been my age."
"Well, I hate to break it to you, but you are now."
Down goes the lid on the coffin.
There it is. That's what's wrong with me. Besides suffering a traumatic blow to my vanity...
I'm my age.