We're not what we used to be. We simply aren't -- and won't be again. Just one more hard fact that good intentions can't change.
Such was the consensus at a party the other night when friends, all of a certain age, ticked off assorted aches and ailments, a litany that would be depressing if it weren't so hilariously universal. We aren't as quick, as limber, as flexible as we once were. Not by a long shot. Our bodies, those wonderful machines we blithely mistreated 20 or 30 years ago, are finally showing wear.
So this is middle age. When you have to stop to use the restroom at every other turnpike plaza. When you're as stiff as a two-by-four after three hours in front of the television. When you leave reading glasses all over the house just in case. When your hair, if you have any, grows in all the wrong places. When the absence of pain is cause for celebration -- just don't forget the antacid.
Yep, we're there. Midlife. Gulp.
Example No. 1: A friend danced the night away at her husband's 51st birthday. The life of the party, she twisted and shimmied, hopped and leaped all evening. Twenty-four hours later, she was prostrate, ice packs on her lower back.
Example No. 2: Another friend was suddenly afflicted with a shooting pain down her neck. "Don't know what I did," she told me after popping two pills in hopes of relief. "I just got up this way."
Yep, I know that feeling well. Get up -- from bed, from a long commute, from the backless seats at an old stadium -- and your parts don't fit they way they're supposed to. Even among the healthiest of us, brisk or sudden movement can be a challenge. I often joke that I need WD-40 in my cup of joe, anything to get that sluggish blood flowing.
In the mornings, we creak. We groan. We grimace. We test the flexibility of muscles and tendons that have stiffened overnight. Then we blame the cold or the heat, the old mattress or the soft pillow, the food we ate or the weights we lifted. It's probably all that, and more.
The generation that vowed to never trust anyone over 30 has arrived at this inexorable conclusion: There's no fooling Father Time. Long past that three-oh milestone -- in fact, some of our children have crossed it -- we don't bounce back like we used to.
The tenor of our conversations with friends has changed. They're less about acquiring and more about adapting and adjusting. Notice, too, that we have become well acquainted with medical terminology ending in -itis, as in arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, you-name-it-itis.
Sure, we can keep fit, stay socially engaged, eat healthfully, take our supplements. But Bette Davis had a point when she famously pronounced that getting old is not for sissies.
So on the road to the inevitable, it might be best if we share and compare -- your knee replacement to my lower back stiffness, your neck ache to my hip pain, your physical therapist to my chiropractor.
Feel better now?
(Ana Veciana-Suarez is a family columnist for The Miami Herald. Write to her at The Miami Herald, One Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132, or send e-mail to aveciana(at)herald.com.)
Midlife brings a little pain here, a little ache there
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