So our geriatric internist sent us blood pressure cuffs and electronic devices that will record our daily blood pressure and send results electronically to our doctor for monitoring. During set up, the machine talks to you like she thinks she is Alexa. So now, we have added b p cuffs – one for each of us, and the electronic computer that monitors and sends the info onto doc, along with the grab bar poles, and the lift assist, and the walker, and the three canes, and the dry mouth lozenges, that now decorate our living room/dining room. It’s beginning to look very geriatric every single day. It’s beginning to look very geriatric every way I turn…
Yes, we are getting geriatric altogether, me, my husband, and our house. We just installed a floor-to-ceiling pole. Not for me to dance on, although one day if I get dementia, I just may. It’s so that my husband can grab onto it in order to get in and out of bed. He is suffering, according to the doctors, from the condition called “deconditioning,” which means his muscles are weak.
When we looked at recliners, we skipped over the ones that catapult you across the room. Sure, it would be easier for my husband but the goal is to strengthen, not weaken the already weakened muscles.
We just ordered a lift assist, a device that is supposed to help me help my husband to lift himself when he gets stuck in a chair.
My husband’s occupational therapist comes up with all these gadgets and devices, devices that make me realize that he is not the only one who needs assistance, that he is not the only one aging.
My pillbox that now occupies our dining room table reminds me that he is not aging alone and all these devices that now reside in my house, are a constant reminder that we are getting old altogether.
Nothing makes sense. IF we need to be at 6 foot spreads and we need to not be close enough for a cough or a sneeze or an accidental spit to make contact with us, we need to SHUT THE SCHOOLS DOWN.
If we are so worried about FEEDING THE KIDS FREE BREAKFAST, then the kids could come and get BREAKFAST TO GO.
IF we NEED to avoid crowded conditions THEN THE SUBWAYS NEED TO BE SHUT DOWN. PERIOD.
So, what I see is what we know we should be doing vs. WHAT IS CONVENIENT to do. Which means it is a total DO -IT- YOURSELF, MAKE IT UP AS YOU GO PANDEMIC.
Which is TRUMP STYLE.
JUST WING IT. Pick from the smorgasbord.
Which can explain why our friends, a couple in their late 70s, are taking a LONG PLANE RIDE, which the CDC specifically warned against, to visit a 95 year old dear friend but they will NOT eat out at any restaurant because without workers getting sick pay, they feel they are endangering their lives by taking a chance that the food will be prepped and/or served by a Coronavirus carrying employee.
The thermostat was flashing change batteries. We were rushing to get out of the house. But truth be told, I had woken up in the middle of the night with my heart pounding and a sense of dread. Coronavirus, yes. So, I was out of sorts. I pulled the thermostat off the wall without shutting the emergency switch. I changed the batteries and remounted it. Nothing. I took it off again and checked the batteries. I remounted. Nothing. I turned the emergency switch off and then on. Nothing. I checked the batteries a third time. Nothing. I gave up and called the fuel company. They asked me if I checked the batteries. I checked again.
The owner came within the hour and he checked the batteries. “YOU PUT THEM IN THE WRONG WAY,” he said – but he did not rebuke me. He was gentle. And son-of-a-gun, I put them in the wrong way.
I confessed: “I’m very nervous about this coronavirus,” I said apologetically.
“We all are,” he said in the most understanding voice I have ever heard.
Well, yesterday it was my husband’s turn to flip out. He was walking around and around. He said: “I can die sooner than I planned,” as if that made any sense. And then when I reminded him to use the hand sanitizer when he went out, he got agitated.
“Breathe,” I said because it was clear my husband had crossed that line.
“STOP TELLING ME EXACTLY WHAT TO DO!” he retorted.
Our freezer is stocked with frozen fruits and vegetables because those are perishable. I cooked a little and froze a dish or two. We keep the car tank full although they are now telling us to stay home. We already have cabin fever even though this was a very mild winter (but there is no global warming, right?) What will we do?
I will cook. I hate to clean and I doubt coronavirus will change that. Will I want my cleaning lady to come? Hmmm…Her son works in the City as a first responder. Too close for comfort? I will put off thinking about that one for a bit.
I have to get my roots dyed. Should I go to the salon that I know is frequented by people from Asia and the Mideast? Hmmm… My husband, the eternal optimist, has already nixed that idea so I am toying with DIY – doing my roots myself.
What will we do if decide to skip the gym for the duration of this period? Well, I could draw and paint and make a mess but who will clean it up? I could watch the news and eat myself to death. I can use the time to DIY garden. Hmmm….
IF we survive physically, will we survive as a couple if we are holed up for a long period of time? Hmmm….My husband may want sex nonstop for entertainment. He is in his late 70s…Hmmm….
Have you ever seen the haunting movie “Meloncholia?” It’s not a comedy. But it draws you in and even though you want to turn it off and not watch, you cannot bring yourself to do what you know is the sane thing to do if you do not want nightmares. The situation today is a lot like the beginning of that movie. It is surreal. You know what is happening. You know what is going to happen and yet, you let down your guard and go about life, till you remember the big picture.
NYC is vibrant and noisy and crowded and exciting and alive! The sidewalks seem to have a pulse. And it is still busy and full and crowded. But it is less noisy. People are talking less and they are talking in hushed tones. People are honking less and they are more patient and are indulging others the right of way. My local stores are emptier. But the shopkeepers are kinder. I myself was the recipient of two acts of random kindness and witnessed a third all within a short time of one another.
It reminds me of the time I lived through the 1973 war in Israel. It feels like wartime and indeed, we are, or should be, at war with coronavirus. We have become a DIY society. We DIY at the cash register, at checkouts, at the gas pumps. When we listen to the commercials on TV that recommend all kinds of medicines for conditions we may not have know we have, and then call our doctor to discuss these wonder drugs, we are DIY.
So, I have self-diagnosed. I am suffering from melancholia based upon the gut reaction I had listening to Trump’s insane ramblings at the CDC today. I need xanax to get through. And I will DIY by calling Teladoc because I am truly worried about the fact that we do not have enough testing kits nor beds nor respirators. I will DIY and tell a doc that he needs to write me a prescription.
To be continued.
SO… You spend a while regretting the fact that you did not have more children. Competition is a good think and you suspect that capitalism was born of children who were vying for their parents’ love? affection? pride? attention? When only one person holds the cards – in this case your daughter – it is a monopoly and as monopolies go, she gets to call all the shots. And she did…
SO… what do you do? You make a SANE Thanksgiving! You cook a SANE one-course meal: turkey tenderloins done to perfection, parsnips and carrots roasted with parsley, roasted asparagus, and you clinch it with your specialty – the irresistible cranberry-orange sauce your guests have loved. Dessert is easy because you do not make any. Your dietician will be very proud of you. She is younger and skinnier than your daughter and she gives you a complete hour of her undivided attention. (Of course, your insurance company pays her).
You have eaten heathy and clean-up is easy – two dinner plates, two forks, two knives. And then you go to the movies because the theaters are EMPTY! And you just wonder how your daughter will feel the Thanksgiving she does not get invited.
So you spend a few minutes regretting that you did not have more children. You know that competition is a good thing and you suspect that capitalism was born out of children vying for their parents’ love? affection? pride? attention? But when there is no competition, it is a monopoly and my one child holds all the cards.
So what do you do? Well, I made a SANE Thanksgiving meal, a one-course meal: Turkey Tenderloins done to perfection, roasted parsnips and carrots, roasted asparagus, and my special cranberry-orange sauce. Half a plate of veggies just as the dietician ordered. No extra calories. No need to pass on the desserts because I did not make any. My dietician will be very proud of me. She just happens to be younger and thinner than my daughter and she gives me a solid hour of undivided attention. (Yes, of course my insurance is paying her).
So then what do you do? We went to the movies – but not just any movie theater. We went to an AMC theater and saw the Mr. Rogers movie in the extra spacious reclining seats.
Now in all fairness to my daughter, she is overwhelmed at work. But I am not the kind of mother who just lets her do all the work. I give way more than I take so after great consideration, I let myself wonder how my daughter will feel when her kids do not invite her for Thanksgiving. I mean, I would have cooked and hosted and cleaned up if my daughter had just said: “I can’t do it.” instead of saying: “I booked a hotel for Thanksgiving. I need to get away,” without adding: “Would you like to join?”
If you would have told me that I would write a book when I retired, I would never have believed you. If you would have told me that I would spend a lot of time preparing all kinds of vegetable dishes in my retirement, I would never have believed you. If you had told me that we would be working in our retirement and still be paying a mortgage, I would never have believed you.
Yet, here we are. My book is still selling and I still have great reviews. My compost bin is full of vegetable clippings since our dietician insists that vegetables are the way to go. I find vegetables boring so I spend more and more time trying to find exotic ways to couch the plain vegetables we are supposed to eat. Half a plate of them at each meal! Plus, we are not allowed to add salt. I am still tutoring, even more than last year. My husband is still tutoring any chance he gets. We are still paying down a first mortgage and yes, we have an equity line. I guess we are doing okay because they always ask if we have a second equity line in addition, and they are always impressed that we do not.
I find I do not have the energy I used to have. If I go food shopping, I cook the next day. If I cook one day, I do the laundry the day after. One day, one activity. And on the days that we exercise, well, that IS the activity.
If you told me that I would stop caring about my house and let things slide a little, NO one would have believed you. Yet, I look the other way a lot now.
So that is how aging happens. It creeps up on you. You focus on the past. You appreciate what you have been through. You obsess about health – yours and your loved ones. And you see the future through your grandkids. You are not that relevant and you know it. But the grandkids…they are the raison d’être, and you focus on them. When you go on vacation, you don’t bring home souvenirs because honestly, who needs them? But you send age appropriate ones to your grandkids. You want them to be comfortable in the big world and you want the big world to open up to them. And you have to stop your thoughts from going there, to the dark places, to the real concerns, the real fears and worries – the pollution, the climate, the out of control weapons grade guns that are everywhere. You have to stop your mind from thinking about the future of our democracy. You have to stop seeing the robots that are now appearing everywhere, including our very own supermarket. You have to focus on the good. So you do. And you are already counting the minutes till you see your grandkids again.
So…I am getting small royalty checks monthly. My editor tells me that is AMAZING in today’s market where no one is reading anything more than two lines long. IN ADDITION, I just received 4 stars on Goodreads and I am an “unknown” author!
So…WHAT DO I DO NOW with my new Laugh-out-Loud FUNNY piece: IS THERE SEX AFTER SLEEP APNEA?
Any thoughts, please? Suggestions? Any publishers out there who want to publish a VERY funny but poignant piece about aging??????