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Aging has this way of giving you a one-two punch.
Some things are good and others not so much. It seems our bodies start behaving as if they belong to someone we don’t even know.
We have little creaks and twinges that are new.
We make noises we never made before.
We can’t eat things we’ve eaten our entire lives.
We look in the mirror and wonder who in the world is staring back at us.
Well our dear sweet Chickadee is turning into a little old woman with a mustache.
For some reason her “stache” shows up especially when the weather is cold. The hairs on her upper lip get stiff and go in all sorts of directions.
I must say she’s handling it much better than I would. Animals are so much more adept at surrenduring to what is. For me, it’s a daily challenge.
Chickadee, Pepper and I are not the only ones experiencing this aging thing are we?
We definitely need company.
When I began this blog, it was with a plan to discuss how my two old sweeties are helping me learn from, deal with, and become enlightened about aging.
Their aging and mine.
For the most part, I think I’ve done that, with perhaps a few detours along the way.
Today I’m back on track with a topic that no one wants to discuss and all of us have to face.
Sometime around hitting the big 5-0.
I’m talking about the dreaded colonoscopy.
It’s supposed to be the highlight of your fiftieth year. Okay maybe that’s an overstatement.
And for those of you trying to do the math, yes, I’m a couple of years past fifty.
When the nurse inquired why I was having the procedure done, I answered, “It’s a general screening.”
I could see her doing a mental tally. Then she smiled. “You’re a bit late aren’t you?”
I shrugged. I mean really, how do you answer that?
“So what if I’m thirteen years late? I’m here now aren’t I?”
That didn’t seem like the best approach. Especially given that this nurse was about to insert an IV needle into my vein.
Instead I added a smile to my shrug.
There are some reasons, which I feel compelled to share with you. I hope my coming clean (sorry for the pun) doesn’t scare you off.
In no particular order, here are my reasons for waiting thirteen years to schedule a screening colonoscopy:
- I’m a procrastinator. I hate to admit it, but it’s true.
- We’ve had a few insurance issues to deal with.
- I didn’t want to.
- It’s not something we talk about in polite company. (I’m having trouble believing that I’m actually blogging about this to the whole world. So much for that excuse!)
- I didn’t think I had to worry about it.
- I’m really good at denial.
- I’d heard stories about nuclear expulsions. Even columnist Dave Barry said he felt like he needed a seat belt just to stay on the toilet. That put me off just a bit.
But yes, you’re correct if you think these are pretty flimsy excuses. I guess all it takes is a few friends with polyps, tumors, and the big C to finally get through to me.
I drank the magic expulsion potion, finished reading a paperback while I was in the bathroom, and the next day, checked my modesty at the door of the surgery center. After that it was easy sailing. The hospital staff was great. They brought me a heated blanket. I could get used to that part. The rest of the procedure is a big blur. I remember going to sleep and then waking up. Easy peasy.
It makes me feel silly for waiting so long.
I’m proud to say that we are now a two-colonoscopy family. Or as my friend Laurel described it, we are squeaky clean.
That would be us. Sorry if that’s too much information.
If you’re putting this little procedure off, please stop. Make the appointment. You’ll like yourself for it.
I’ve mentioned before that one of the reasons we supplement the pasture with grain for our two old sweeties is that both need daily meds.
We’re usually able to slip the medicine into the grain and no one’s the wiser.
We started with Bud, who needs Pergolide to reduce his symptoms of Cushing’s disease. Once a day he gets a little red pill. It’s made a huge difference. Our vet recently increased the dosage, so now the pill is hot pink.
Either way, the bright color makes it easy to see, so that when Bud spits it out (which he sometimes does) I can put it back in the feed pan and ultimately into Bud. It’s a game he plays with me, rather like when your one year old keeps dropping a toy, just so you’ll pick it up.
Pepper isn’t quite as cooperative. She is one suspicious girl when it comes to her food. Last winter we put soybean oil into their grain for the added calories. Bud loved it, but Pepper wasn’t such an easy sell. I had to add the oil one tablespoon at a time until she was used to the taste and feel.
Like I said, she’s cautious.
So lately our vet suggested that we give Pepper a daily dose of bute to offset the pain in her back legs. Her knees are starting to calcify. It’s hard enough for me to even write this, let alone think about what it’s going to mean down the road for her – and me.
I want her to take the pain reliever so that she feels better. And I wish she could connect that powder in her food to feeling better.
But, she doesn’t.
If her food is even the slightest bit different, she won’t eat it. Just walks toward the gate and through telepathy says: “No way man. I’m not eating that stuff. I’m ready to go back now.”
So I’ve reverted to the old soybean oil system. I add a little more bute each time I feed her. Soon enough I’ll be at the recommended dose.
Right now we’re giving Bud a course of antibiotics from the minor surgery he had last week. We have to mix the powder with water and then stir it into his grain. If we do that, he’s fine. The first time we didn’t, and Bud wouldn’t touch his food.
The horses aren’t the only ones needing more medication these days and a way to manage it. Since my husband had a medical “issue” earlier this year, our meds have increased significantly.
Our own supplements and medications line the kitchen counter, making the room look more like a pharmacy than a kitchen.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement.
But I wager if you were to have a secret peek into cabinets of most people in their fifties and sixties, you’d find quite a lineup of potions, pills and magic elixirs.
Multi-vitamins, fish oil, Vitamin D, CoQ-10 are just a few that have taken up residence on our shelves.
What is it about this age? I often wonder if I’m afraid of dying. I don’t think that’s it exactly. It’s more that I am afraid of living when my body isn’t working anymore.
How about you? Are you taking more meds? And if so, why?
We act like it’s something to be ashamed of when we reach 40, 50, and god forbid, 60! But really, isn’t it something to celebrate? Pepper would certainly say so.
Over the weekend she celebrated her 28th birthday.
Its true, she doesn’t look like a young mare anymore. And yes, she has arthritis and more than a few other aches and pains. She doesn’t move as quickly as she used to.
But she still lives her life every single day. She follows her routine and knows how to be present with whatever the day brings.
I complain about the wind or rain or snow, but not Pepper. She simply accepts. I can learn from her. Yet again she is teaching me how to age with grace. Now if only I can apply it.
Happy Birthday sweet girl. Alfalfa cubes for you all week!
She walked past me in high heels that were at least four inches tall – maybe five. Black, strappy, stilettos. The shoes were as beautiful as the young woman wearing them.
The emphasis here is on the word young.
My days of wearing heels like that are long gone. On Saturday at the Kentucky Derby event hosted by the Symphony, as I watched this young woman and her friends, each one decked out in high heels and tiny size zero dresses, I was awash in a cocktail of powerful emotions.
Envy was at the top of the list. The old green-eyed monster made me lust after those shoes, and more than the shoes, the ability to wear them. I was going to write that I couldn’t remember the last time I wore high heels, but I do remember. I was dressed up for an event at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and by the end of the evening I was forced to hobble to the car early because my feet hurt so badly. I was near tears with the pain.
How could I forget? Oh right. We humans tend to repress bad memories. It keeps us from committing murder.
I’ll tell you this. The next day I donated those babies. No need to have them in my closet, reminding me that I am no longer a player in that particular game.
Along with envy, I felt a huge, pounding sadness that really was grief. Thank goodness it didn’t last long, because it was the most powerful of all. It was like a big glob of black sludge sitting in my stomach, reminding me that I couldn’t wind the clock of my life backwards.
I felt old and frumpy and I hated that. But there I was wearing my sensible shoes feeling like the dorm supervisor.
Not a good image!
When did I go from being prime real estate to not-so-prime? Looking back, it seems like it happened very quickly.
I want to age with grace. Really, I do.
I want to enter into this phase of my life with ease – to embrace where I am now.
I’ve seen women hang on to their fading youth with a death grip. They white knuckle their way through life, pretending they are still young. I’ve never thought it worked. In fact, quite the opposite. In my opinion, women who try too hard to look young end up looking very old.
And kind of desperate.
I don’t want that fragrance of desperation to waft off of me like too strong perfume.
This is Lily. She’s a youngster who performed a beautiful choreographed dance with her rider at the Symphony event.
See her roses?
She was so pretty and expressive. My photography doesn’t come close to doing her justice.
The Kentucky Derby party was held at the Colorado State University Equine Center so there were many horses to admire – all of whom looked healthy and fit.
What really smacked me in the face was the difference between my sweet Pepper and Lily.
It was muscle tone. Lily is in her prime with a body that is muscular and well conformed. Miss Pepper on the other hand has lost muscle tone. She’s lost actual muscle. Her conformation isn’t so good anymore.
Rather like my lack of ability to wear high-heeled shoes. It’s something that comes with age. Except for Tina Turner who, at age seventy, is still struttin’ her stuff in her Jimmy Choos. Don’t her feet hurt?
The difference between Pepper and me is that she isn’t filled with envy and sadness. She has no grief about getting old. At least I don’t think she does. She simply accepts where she is in her life at this time.
What a concept!
Yet again, she is my Zen master, my role model for aging. Now all I have to do is carry her lesson with me the next time I’m attending one of those fancy, schmancy events.
May the “Pepper force” be with me – and you.