Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Getting older sucks

Sometimes. Ok, most days once you're 60, sucks and the prospects aren't much better. It's the old idea between 40 and 50 you're ok, but after 50, the downhill slope starts and after 60 steepens. It doesn't really matter how fit and healthy you are, everyone goes downhill and all the small things you were up to then come to live with you fulltime.

You can exercise all you want, it won't change things except for the rare person who's genes afforded them a better body to stay fit and healthy longer. But even for them, it comes at a price, excercising harder and longer to slow the rate of the decline. They can't get better, only keep themselves from getting worse faster.

And I'm among the crowd now. Gone are the mornings of running easily 3+ miles, hiking 8-12 miles in a day with a 30-40 lb pack, even with significant elevation gain, and feeling my body at its best. It hasn't been in years and won't be there again. And that's what sucks the most.

And all the small problems that plague us in your youth become significant ones and even important ones. The persistent cold hands then is now constant from fall into spring, even year around taking stuff from the refrigerator and stiffening up within 10 minutes outside in 40 or below temperatures. All the gloves in the world won't help.

And now it's in my toes. My toes are always cold, often turn white then red when warmed. The toes are always slightly to moderately swollen. And all the socks and shoes in my closet won't keep them warm. And with my hands, this condition won't fade with time, and only get worse each year. The reality of my genes.

The problems with food and my digestive system, then considered reasons for a joke, are constant. Food can be and often is my enemy, watching what I eat every day and planning 3-5 days out just in case things don't work or go wrong. And there is nothing medical science can do to diagnose, let alone resolve it.

It's simply a food-sensitive system. I actually feel better when I don't eat. I only feel tired and hungry, instead of eating and feeling full, tired and sleepy. I tell people it's simple, I can write the list of approved foods on a 3x5 postit note. The list is longer occasionally but then the system and body goes south and shuts down for days on end. No matter what I eat, if anything.

And yes I know, in many ways I'm lucky to have only these few aliments at 60. I'm generally fitter and healthier than most people at 60. I can still run some distance and walk farther. I can go my outdoor photography with 40-50 lbs of camera gear, if only for a few miles. All when on the good days.

My Dysthymia comes and goes from mild to moderate (no drugs), and occasionally goes south for a few days. I know the symptoms and I've learned to float through them by puttering ("sweep the floor") on better days and watching TV (couch potato) on worse days. And I know it fades back to normal (chronic low to ok) eventually. I have just be patient.

And no, there's no cure, no "Get over it" thing, no drug, etc. that helps. I've learned at times to find the value in it, like even now, seeing what I'm thinking and feeling. To explore where I'm at mentally and emotionally, and find outlets, which not surprisingly helps get through it.

This is something you don't get over, only through. I don't want to chase the drug regimen, the forever, lifelong path of finding a drug, waiting while it works, hoping it does (all are only 50% effective), then monitoriing if it's fading to increase the dosage or find a new or additional drug. And repeat this cycle every 2-3 years. No thanks.

Knowing who I am is better than not knowing if it's me or the drug. This way I know the truth and reality of me. Nothing else, just me. I can deal with that. And writing is one of my drugs. Even while writing this in the darkening evenng hours I am slowly feeling better, like the depression is draining out my fingers.

And my humor comes back. That's my mental and emotional thermometer. My quirky, obscure, obtuse humor. I little Gary Larson, a little Robin Williams and a little Will Rogers. Weird huh? But friends love it when I'm funny. At least the smile and even laugh. It's tells me I'm normal again, for me.

And I don't see being 60 as bad. I don't hate my body as much (have always hated it). I can see, understand and accept the reality of my life. Appreciate the life and work to date. Look forward to tomorrow and the future. And feel ok, comfortably ok. For now and for, hopefully, awhile longer, until everything comes back.

But until then I'll smile and watch life and the world go by with some measure of satisfaction and enjoyment. And slowly the photographic eye and motivation comes back to pick up the camera bag and venture again to look, see and capture. In the end, what else is there?