Thank goodness, I haven’t simply become a whining old man

A shadow of my former self

A shadow of my former self

About a month ago, on April 28, I wrote here about my new appendage. I worried about using that word to describe my cane, but put my mind at rest:

Anatomy, Zoology, any member of the body diverging from the axial trunk.
Botany, Mycology, any subsidiary part superadded to another part.
A person in a subordinate or dependent position, especially a servile or parasitic follower

My cane “diverg[es] from [my] axial trunk” and is a “subsidiary part superadded to another part.” It’s not connected to my “core,” as my physical therapist and trainer both call my axial trunk (I’ve never, apparently, exercised it enough). And the cane is superadded to my hand (or is it to my legs? an interesting existential question).

Yesterday I found out that the pain in my butt is not psychosomatic, that I’m not wimp, that I’m not simply looking for attention. And that I’m not a whining old man. The nice young man (when did high school kids start being doctors?) showed me the shadows and lines on the x-rays of my hip that indicate there really is something wrong. He said my synovial cartilage and my synovial membrane are both damaged.

Additionally, one of the wavy lines indicates “a probability of the early development of arthritis” (early?) and the bump (the one I could see clearly) is a bone spur. How the hell do you grow a bone spur on the top of your femur?

How Dr. Thornton can discern all of that by looking at a tiny black-and-white (in fact, gray and lighter gray) image on a piece of plastic is beyond my comprehension. I guess that’s what his years of education taught him—as opposed to my equal number of years that taught me the history of the organ fugue.

I’m telling you this to help you begin to reach old age with at least a modicum of understanding of what happens to your body as you hang around in it longer and longer. Oh, and by the way, he thinks my fall on February 1 merely exacerbated all of these things. It didn’t cause them—except for the damage to the synovial cartilage and membrane. Don’t you just love that word? “Synovial.” Etymology Online says the word dates from “1756, from synovia, Modern Latin sinovia, probably a coinage of Paracelsus and apparently an invented word. “ Who the hell was Paracelsus? says it’s a lubricating fluid resembling the white of an egg found at the joints.

When I fell, I damaged the cartilage and membrane in my hip that produce egg whites. But I have a bone spur and arthritis, too, so until further notice I may be stuck with the member of [my] body diverging from [my] axial trunk that’s really a subsidiary part superadded to another part of my body. Oh, JOY!

High schoolers playing doctor

High schoolers playing doctor

I’m writing all of this so those of you who look at me with disdain and think, “Omigod, I don’t ever want to be old and fragile like that one”

(assuming, of course, that I carelessly somehow brought this onto myself—I guess I did when I decided I could put up that shower curtain without standing securely). Most of this would have happened anyway. I don’t think there is a mental or spiritual defense against bone spurs. Maybe I haven’t prayed enough to St. Luke the physician or Raphael the Archangel. I don’t know. Perhaps I haven’t taken care of my body (which is true). Would jogging a couple of miles every other day for my entire life have prevented arthritis or a bone spur? I’m sure I don’t know.

Here’s what I know about having reached the age of 68.

  • Whatever shape your body was in when you were 48, get over it. It’s gone.
  • Whatever shape your mind was in when you were 48, well it’s not quite gone. It’s in there somewhere. You just have to look a little harder for it.
  • Whatever shape your emotions were in when you were 48—this is my experience alone, and it may not be borne out by research of any kind or by anyone else’s experience—it’s much more intense when you are 68. Everything feels more real, more affective. Funny things are funnier, joy is more joyful, and depression is more depressing (if you’ve ever been hospitalized for depression, it seems always to be on the horizon, even when you’re happy, joyous, and free). Don’t even think about falling love!
  • Whatever you thought about politics and people who talk about politics will change exponentially every year. Absurdity simply grows more absurd.
  • Walking with a cane will be the least of your worries. All of the wolves are at the door.
Many people older than age 65 live  happy and healthy independent lives.  Some changes in the ability to think are  considered a normal part of the aging process.

Many people older than age 65 live
happy and healthy independent lives.
Some changes in the ability to think are
considered a normal part of the aging process.