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Three score and ten or more

Wednesday, November 23, 2005



When I started writing this stuff, I stated that one reason was to try to reveal some things about what it is like to be over seventy.  It is time to do some more of that, and,  at the same time try to avoid whining.  I hate whining.

It is important to realize that seventy plus is very different for some than it is for others. I know people my age who have been in nursing homes for several years.  On the other hand, I sing in a choir with a guy who is only a year younger than me and he runs in at least one or two half-marathons a year.  His wife, only a little younger, has completed 18 marathons, most of those after she became sixty.  

Some folks my age are really hurting financially.  So far, for my wife and myself that has not been a problem, though, if one or the other of us passes, problems could loom.  There has been a lot of bad mouthing of southern education, but Georgia has made a good faith effort to pay teachers, at all levels, a living wage.  Not a sumptuous wage, but a living wage, and the Georgia Teachers Retirement is both good, and stable. I’m glad I came here to complete my career.

  I read a column about Georgia Education today, and some of the stuff was irritating.  I don’t think there is a thing wrong with Georgia Education that wouldn’t be solved if everyday Georgians could begin to take education  and that of their children seriously, and if at least half of the administrators in Georgia schools (at all levels) were either fired or returned to the classroom.  (Administrators have to justify their existence.  The most common way is to create situations where teachers have to stop teaching and generate paper work that administrators can keep on file to justify their existence).  There is a part of me that would advocate that EVERY administrator should be required to actually teach at least half time. (Then they would be too busy to create paperwork.)

In my case, and in that of my wife health is an ongoing problem.  It affects us both in lifestyle and in economics.  She is arthritic, both with rheumatoid and osteo-arthritis.  She has had joints in her thumbs replaced, a knee replaced, and, after the holidays plans to have some finger joints fused.  One of her biggest irritations is that, though she loves to read, she has a lot of trouble HOLDING  a book.   I worry about her a lot.  I, on the other hand, have high blood pressure, have had a quadruple cardiac bypass, osteo-arthritis in my shoulders and knees, and have had a peripheral motor neuropathy since the early nineties.  (no body knows what caused it, it is a general complication of diabetes, but I don’t have diabetes)  I used to have a lot of trouble explaining a neuropathy, but the national diabetes association has a commercial now, with some guy putting on his socks which turn to hornets as he pulls his socks up.  That, basically is me, if you add numb fingers and the same kind of pain in my arms that would be shared by someone with carpal tunnel syndrome (actually it IS a form of carpal tunnel).  We sound like a mess.  Actually we are more inconvenienced that anything else.  I have quit shopping at stores that don’t have baskets that I can walk behind (Those damn kids are always trying to take my basket away so that I can’t use it to walk to the car---Growl.)  All in all, it is enough to justify disabled tags on our cars, but not enough to keep us from using them.  I used to whine and complain a lot, but I know so many who have so many other problems that I have learned to be grateful for what I have.  It also causes economic stress.  My co-payments for prescriptions (with a good insurance plan) run about 125.00 to 150.00 a month.  It would be more fun to buy ice-cream, but at least, I have the money to pay them.

Minor humor moment:  Back in the nineties before I retired but after I had lost the fluent use of my legs, I pulled up to a handicapped space in a Savannah Mall, and started into the mall, when a newschick (I’m sorry, I am not a total chauvinist, but it is the only term that fits) rammed a microphone into my face (her cameraman was close behind her) and asked me “What is your physical problem that you have to use a handicapped space?  You don’t seem to be using crutches.”   I looked at her for a moment, then asked “How long has it been since you had breast augmentation surgery?”  There was a pause, she turned a little red and said, with emphasis, “What business is it of yours whether I have had it or not?”  My reply was “You seemed to feel that you had the right to ask me personal questions, so I assumed that I had the same right.”  Steam came out of her ears for a second, then she waved her arm to the photographer and stomped off to assault her next victim.

I find myself caught between envy of those who have fewer physical problems and gratitude that ours aren’t as bad as those of other people.  The biggest worry I have is the rapid degeneration of my short term memory (without that problem, I probably wouldn’t have retired when I did).  I live in fear of becoming senile or getting Alzheimer’s and creating a problem for my dear wife (who has yet to forget anything in her life, of which I am aware).  Another problem which is shared by many, is that we are both deaf as posts so we shout at each other a lot, and constantly assume that the other is aware of something that is going on that “we told them about”, all the time.  Sigh, it does create problems.  We spent a lot of money on hearing aids a few years ago, and that was not much of an improvement (though it helped me some in teaching classes.).  
My deafness is a result of noise pollution while I worked as a boilermaker for the Union Pacific railroad in my twenties.  Everyone who did what I did lost all the high frequencies rather young.  I worry about these guys driving around in cars with sound that actually vibrates the car, and wish I could warn them, but when you are young and dumb no one can control your life, not even you.

Well, I didn’t cover some of the things I wanted to, but this is too long already.  Someday I’ll really shock you and show you a picture of the pills I take every day.
Sometimes I don’t even believe it myself.


At 10:02 PM, Blogger Assorted Babble by Suzie said...

You guys are in way better shape than I am....(smiling)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.....appreciate you visiting recently.
Wishing you guys a wonderful Blessed holiday...

At 10:14 PM, Blogger Assorted Babble by Suzie said...

After publishing my comment... I realized that it did not come out as I had wished.

I do know what you are talking about...the list of meds are awful here too...but most esp all of our list of illnesses. Endless...

Being on disability now...it limits me to so much that I use to do...It is terrible getting older...I feel for you and your wife...

My comment was meant in a way of smiling...that at your age..and what you did before..you are probably still in somewhat good shape...I sure hope so. I have had 5 friends die in the last 5 yrs that were in their 50's/60's...it has been tough excepting it.

Your profile picture...appears full of life...and wishing you many years of happiness and better health.

At 10:20 PM, Blogger Live, Love, Laugh said...

Interesting post!

At 4:39 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I just loved the "newschick" anecdote. I wish I could think of ripostes like that. I usually only think of good comebacks long afterwards.

The pills - I wish I could see what you take. Most seniors are over-medicated. Many pills cause nasty side-effects like upset stomach which then have to be treated by pills for heartburn etc. Sometimes the disease is less horrible than the side-effects.

When I first started pharmacy nearly 40 years ago, seniors were taking an averuage of 2.5 pills a day. It is now 11.5 per day. If you ever want me to take a look, just email me.

You wife's book-holding problem can be easily solved. Buy a laptop computer stand at Office Depot or Staples. They cost about $40 and are easily assembled. This type of stand is on wheels and can be raised to about 3 feet off the floor to about 4 foot.

You wheel it up to the edge of the bed or chair and swivel it around so that the "desk" portion is over your lap. The "desk" part can be tilted downwards from the horizontal to hold a book. I use not only for my laptop but also for very heavy books like atlases.

At 4:47 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

PS Between you, Richard, and Suzie and me we could give quite a good organ recital. That's one of my mom's phrases - used like this: "I met Mrs Jones this morning and she gave me a long organ recital." Meaning of course a rundown about all her ailments.

I once had a boss (the owner of a Kosher restaurant that I managed) who used to say about his mother: "She's such a damn neurotic Jew that she has another organ remmoved whenever she gets bored.

(I think I'll save those paragraphs for my blog.)

BTW Your Scrooge pic is great.

At 11:55 AM, Blogger Ada May said...

This is a great post. Thank you for sharing!

At 5:35 AM, Blogger Ed Abbey said...

The thing I worry most about getting old is losing my mental capacities. I think I could deal with the physical aspects but not being aware scares me. Thanks for the great insights you provided.

P.S. I did get your comment on my Jimmy blog. Comment notification to my email account is a great way to never miss a helpful word or comment.

At 11:35 PM, Blogger Phantom_Driver, USNR, Ret. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11:41 PM, Blogger Phantom_Driver, USNR, Ret. said...

The trick is to keep on keepin' on.
Loved the "infobabe" story -- I used to work with such people, and their collective attitudes were insufferable.

I walk with a limp and sometimes cane due to bursitus, which docs say will someday turn into arthritus as that runs in the family. The knee started up when I foolishly misstepped getting off the side of an aircraft I was servicing, but I have no medical record of the incident so it's hard to get treated at the VA.

I at one time was fair on the guitar, but joints get stiff, so I lube 'em with a shot of WD40 which really seems to help. Contains DMSO apparently, and has had no apparent side effects.

Performing -- well I'm durn near 60 and play occasionally the "harp" (harmonica) in a blues band where I'm the old grey guy.

Pictures of that at CLICK HERE>

However, my old pal Ernie Williams
(www.erniewilliams.com) is 80 and can do two straight hours of singing and dancing around, so I count my blessings. It's great fun to perform and get the applause when you hit the groove.

Besides, the youngsters think it's "cool". hehehhe

Aside from the knee, I'm not over that hill yet. But I can see it from here.

Interesting blog. Will be checking in from time to time.

All the best,

Phantom Driver
Proud father of an American Soldier


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