Originally published in the Miami News-Record on January 18, 2015
I am swiftly approaching my 42nd birthday. As in, so swiftly it’s mere days away. Aging is one of those things you really have no choice in. I mean, to be alive is to age. Wow, that sounded wise. Maybe it’s because with age comes wisdom. Again, profound. I’m on a roll!
Your first birthday is always celebrated because you’re cute and you smear cake everywhere. Turning five means Kindergarten is soon and the Tooth Fairy will start visiting. Turning 10 means you’re finally double digits. 13 ushers in the teen years. 16 means a driver’s license and a newfound freedom. Turning 18 is no big deal unless you just get really excited about voting – and gambling. Turning 21 is major if you like to partake of alcoholic beverages or would like to carry a concealed weapon. After that it’s pretty much a decade-by-decade big deal. You turn 30, you mourn the end of your 20’s – that carefree time of irresponsibility and perky boobs. You turn 40, and I’m finding that means you get to know your doctor better. My husband, who is 10 years my senior, says 50 is depressing and fat. Heck, I’m already depressing and fat, so I’m not sure if that means turning 50 will be a cinch for me – or if it means I’ll die.
I had called my dad last week to give report from my latest medical procedure and related all the woes of the visit. Basically, it boils down to this: I’m falling apart. And Dad only confirmed that by imparting this bit of wisdom on me: “Everything changes at the age of 40. It’s like you had a warranty and it suddenly runs out.” I have things drooping, sagging, slowing down, and some outright quitting on me. I’ve been gray-headed since I was 28, so that hasn’t been a big deal. That one’s early-onset and hereditary for me, unfortunately. But the older I get, the more medical conversations begin with, “Well, for a woman your age…” It’s this constant monitoring of levels, concentrations, and counts makes me feel like a guinea pig in a laboratory. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful I have a nurse practitioner who cares about me and my health, but I guess I just wasn’t prepared for how sudden this change came on.
All in all, though, the reality is my health is actually quite well for a not-quite-42-year-old woman as portly as I am, but I just notice that lately I creak and pop like a bowl of Rice Krispies in the morning. The kids get a large amount of amusement from watching me walk after I’ve been sitting awhile – seems that until I work out all the stiffness, I walk like my late Granny Glenn. I have found myself saying, “If I eat that this late I’ll be up all night.” You know, like your grandma used to say when you asked her to make popcorn for you to eat while watching Johnny Carson. My stylist does any amazing job of coloring my hair so the gray-camouflaging blonde lasts as long as possible, but she keeps hinting I may need to consider coming in more often than every six months. She’s amazing, but I probably shouldn’t put so much pressure on her. Also? I never knew how life-changing bifocals could be.
These days, I’m in need of more calcium, more sleep, more fiber, and more moisturizer. . I could power a small island nation with the energy that comes from a hot flash. The first thing I do when I open the paper is check the obituaries – to make sure I’m not in there. And while I’m thinking about it, some of those hot flashes make me wonder if those tabloid stories of spontaneous combustion have anything to do with being “a woman my age”.