When I was young I thought in terms of life as I knew it and death. Now I’m beginning to realize that there are just as many years between 20 and 50 as there are between 50 and 80. And I’m also beginning to realize that those years aren’t equal.
Most of my colleagues and friends are close to my age and I have noticed more frequently that conversations inevitably include some mention of a malady. Recently, after an ill-advised jump off the first tier of my backyard, I learned two things.
First, when it comes to fight or flight, I am most likely to fly; and secondly, RICE — rest, ice, compression and elevation — really does work. Just as I was recovering from that leap, my son-in-law’s mother took a tumble down her stairs. Suffice it to say that both our children were amused when I loaned her my cane.
What’s amazing to me now is how the slightest miscue can have disastrous consequences. For example: twist and lift — not a good idea. A coworker found himself on his back for a few days after such a maneuver and another became hobbled when she stepped out her front door and tripped on the welcome mat. That’s not to say that these injuries couldn’t befall a younger person, but they do seem to have a longer lasting effect as we age and give us a glimpse into what our futures will hold as we inevitably become less mobile despite aerobic exercise and Pilates.
Which brings me back to my youth. I used to think nothing of jumping off the bed of a pickup truck or lifting a heavy box. Now I weigh my actions, or, at least I did, until I took that flying leap in my backyard. Lying on the couch, with my knee propped up on a pillow watching the NFL, it physically hurt to watch a running back or wide receiver sprint down the field. I knew I finally had recovered from my jump when I could watch a football game without wincing. But there was good news to be learned from the experience — nothing broke. When I first hit the ground — and I stuck that landing like a gymnast — I slowly unfurled fearing that something had to have broken: an ankle, a shin bone, a knee, a hip … .
I reached for my cell phone just in case I couldn’t move, but I made it into the house. At first, everything hurt, and I considered going to the emergency room, but as I thought of all that would entail, I instead grabbed the Advil bottle and a bag of frozen cranberries (didn’t have peas or an ice pack) and headed to the couch.
Of course the incident prompted my daughters to suggest I get Life Alert and they enjoyed some good laughs at my expense. My son-in-law reminded me that there were excellent assisted living centers in Reno, and I sent him a picture of a granny pod that would sit nicely on his property.
Suffice it to say that growing older won’t be without its challenges, but hopefully in the future I will make better decisions. The next time the wind whips my hat off my head and the rake out of my hand, I will pause and then walk down the steps instead of simply jumping off the wall. Fight or flight? I’m going to fight to make the next 30 as good as the last 30.