I had an eye exam today. Same prescription. No change. I was pretty thrilled about no change until the Dr. said, “Yep. You are still hanging on.”
I’m still hanging on?
In other words, enjoy these last few months before bifocals ma’am. Yeah. Then I got a little lesson about my declining eyes. Between the ages of 40 and 45 most humans lose 50% of the flexibility in their lens and need bifocals. By age 70, 100% of it is gone. (That’s not exactly what he said because I stopped listening after realizing my eyes are living on borrowed time) The lens doesn’t bounce back. Rigid. I’m rounding the bend to 44. My free from bifocals minutes are ticking down. It bothers me to think about it. And here is why.
I was wondering when the wheels were going to start to fall of the bus. I didn’t think it was really happening already. As it turns out-it’s happening next year. I’m scheduled for just a lovely series of tests and scans and checks and exams in the year following my 44th birthday. On top of the normal things. Next year I’m having extra things plus I’ll be the owner of a nifty pair of bifocals. Next year is the year to get a baseline as a reference for all future deterioration.
The aging doesn’t bother me nearly as much as all the necessary maintenance. Now begins the (hard) work to just stay as good as possible. I’m just not new anymore. Like an older car, I’m still reliable but stuff needs to be fixed and attended to. I can get from point A to point B but things need to be assessed. Maintained. A lot. That bites. I hate to think of wasting all that time not trying to improve anything but just trying to preserve what is left. I still have all my original parts. For now. But I now need to place time and effort into the preservation of things…
My hair. I color my hair. Actually a lovely lady named Patty colors it for me. I have been dealing with unsightly roots for a few years now. Since 2005 I think. I know I wouldn’t ‘have to’ but I come from a long line of stubborn and proud women (on both sides) who dye their hair until their last hour. My grandma’s Great Aunt Messina dyed here hair secretly. She had a tiny dark glass vial of hair dye she hid behind a wood panel behind the barn and only the women in the family knew her secret. She lived on a farm. If a farm woman at the turn of the century fought the aging hair, who am I to mess up that legacy.
Also in the hair category. My poor eyebrows and eyelashes. They are getting so lonely. Thinning. Really thinning. I thought it was all in my head at first but it’s real. I now need assistance with growing adequate eyelashes. Medical intervention. What what what what what??? I still have to shave my legs but I don’t get to have eyelashes?
Exercise. I’m not a fan. It’s boring and just reminds you of every twinge of pain you may have had and every time you chose the cheesecake over the cup of soup on the menu. I never had to exercise for the first 30 years so now I apparently resent it extra. I have found yoga fortunately because it doesn’t feel like exercise thereby tricking myself into doing it regularly. Now I need to exercise for the sake of my heart, my mental health, my sleep, and to wrangle my frustrating diastasis recti. (that’s when your stomach wall separates during pregnancy from having a giant MOOSE of a child) Do you know what really calls attention to diastasis recti? Lack of exercise and clothing.
Eating. My metabolism is slowing. In the last year, I have really noticed a difference and it has moved into the slow lane. I can’t eat nearly the volume I used to or my waistband will be angry and show me by squeezing the life out of me later. I’m not willing to live on rice cakes AND I’m not willing to run 20 miles a day so now I just have less. I figure when I’m truly elderly I’ll be down to one spoonful of food a day, which will free up some time for me to go to the…
Dentist. My teeth aren’t bad. Yet. I haven’t even enjoyed a root canal. My mom has assured me that someday I will ‘clear my schedule’ to have multi-step dental work done. So I have that to look forward to. It cracks me up when teenagers (when they have braces) whiten their teeth in pictures because they think braces make their teeth look discolored. Stick around ladies. Years, red wine and 653,345,678 cups of coffee will someday wreak havoc on those beautifully straight teeth that your parents paid $8000 for.
My skin. I never went to a dermatologist until 2 years ago. Two years ago I had to go in because I had an unsettling darkening on my face that has faintly taken the shape of South America. Hyper-pigmentation. After 40 years of diligent sunscreen use, I feel it’s unfair that this shows up on my face. I couldn’t get a skin thing on my ankle??? I could have passed it off as a tattoo. So 5 trips and a few Dixie cups of liquid nitrogen + bleaching cream + a medical grade sunscreen 46 that I apply DAILY…it looks fine. Skin is the largest organ. Plenty of potential for other things to go wrong requiring maintenance.
10 years ago I thought I would have a lot of things ‘done’ by now. I was a big talker. I wanted things refurbished, rearranged, up-cycled, exfoliated away and put back to their original locations, restored to their original grandeur. I took for granted how little I needed to do at the time to look and feel decent but set my sights on having a plan in place for over 40. But now, I can’t do it. Now I’m only willing to do the bare minimum (i.e. hair color, yoga, copious amounts of sunscreen). Now it isn’t worth it to me. I fear having any procedure done where my husband would have to explain to our children, “Mom died on the table from an unnecessary procedure but her glutes….her glutes looked a-ma-zing.”
All that said. I’m lucky to be here. Damn lucky. Only the truly privileged get to age.
But it isn’t for wimps. None of us are going to bounce back from getting older.
When I left my appointment today, I had to sit at the ‘eyeglass’ station and fill out some papers. There was a mirror. It wasn’t a great hair day. It was a tired eye day. And then I noticed something else. I had a deep crease just below my hairline from having my chin stationary for 15 minutes and my head pressed firmly against the Phoroptor.
It’s called a Phoroptor. Trust me. I learned that after writing “pressing my head against his equipment” which for obvious reasons sounds like a different kind of story.
Anyway, even my forehead doesn’t bounce back fast these days. An hour later it was fine.
So, I guess I’m satisfied with what is. I’m hanging on.
Do you think he used the word hanging on purpose?