Friday, November 29, 2013

Growing Old Ain't for Sissies

Aging with Angst in the 21st Century 
There was a wise man where I was raised in the ‘50s who played the grandfather role for every kid in the valley. As he sat on his porch rubbing his aching knees, he used to tell us, "Growing old ain't a sin, but it ain't for sissies either." I'm finding out that he was right.

The technological age that we live in provides us with many advantages that, in theory, should help us to age a little more gracefully. Most of us lose our dental insurance when we go on Medicare, so we need to take care of our teeth or we’ll catch it right in the pocketbook. For my teeth, I have my Sonicare toothbrush. Vibrating at 500 strokes per second, that little sucker makes the plaque fly. But don’t let the plastic back of the brush near an older filling. When the filling flies apart, you’ll feel that in your pocket book too.

 My dentist told me that halitosis tends to plague older people, but that I could prevent it by also brushing the roof of my mouth and my tongue. If that sounds gross, perhaps you should stop reading now. However, if you want to try this method of preventing bad breath, read on, but beware!

The professor at Texas A&M who taught me German said that to pronounce the letter R properly one needs to vibrate their uvula. When I picked up my Sonicare and shoved that electronic bumblebee down my throat a little too far and touched my uvula, I did far more than say the letter R in German. The German R came out with the voice of Alvin, the chipmunk. But there is more to the uvula than meets they eye. There’s a physiological tie between the uvula and our gag reflex. Vibrating the uvula at several hundred pulses per second kicks your gag reflex into warp drive. I had the dry heaves for at least a half-hour before the nerves recovered from their state of shock. Just hearing me caused my wife to join in on the chorus.

No … growing old ain't for sissies. I would swear that some little gremlin keeps putting Rogaine in my saline nasal spray. In my ear drops too. In fact, I think it’s pouring it into my body wash at night while I’m sleeping. Now this malady probably affects men more than women, although none of us are completely immune to the hairiffic curse of aging. But we have a machine or a medicine for just about every condition that plagues us, and for this, we have the nose and ear trimmer. If you’re a bit hairophobic and decide to use one of these gadgets, beware!

I have tried different makes and models of trimmers, all with the same result, microscopic nicks in the surrounding tissue which constitute a breach in our body’s most important defense mechanism. Normally a nick in our skin would not be a big problem, but our nose is the first line of defense against any nasty microorganism that we breathe in. And over the course of a day we can breathe in an incredible number of bacteria, viruses, even super germs. Once inside, germs hang out in our nasal cavity waiting to attack, to give us a cold or some other infection. You trim on one day and, by the time you get up the next morning, a million bacteria have had a free shot at your nose. Even with a healthy immune system, you'll have a bulbous beak that Rudolph would be proud to display. And don't even think about touching it, or you're scream will make your spouse think the security alarm went off.

There are other conditions we experience as we age and there are other devices that I could mention, but things would deteriorate rapidly. And, let’s face it, old-age humor can get a lot more gross than little-boy humor. So, we're going to stop right here. But, whether you go retro, sporting bushy eyebrows and all the rest, or opt for the latest gadgets to keep you looking a little younger ... growing old ain't for sissies.

H. L. Wegley served in the USAF as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. He is a Meteorologist who worked as a Research Scientist in Atmospheric Physics. After earning an MS in Computer Science, he worked more than two decades as a Systems Programmer at Boeing before retiring in the Seattle area, where he and his wife of 47 years enjoy small-group ministry, their seven grandchildren, and where he is finishing his 7th novel. 

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Donna B said...

LOL Great post! I have a 92 year old friend who is always telling me to never get old, it's no fun. And my answer to him is always the same, "we know what the alternative is, though". And I'll admit, I'm looking forward to heaven, but in His time, not mine!

Patti Shene said...

Great post, Henry!

When my Dad was dying of cancer at 76, I took him to a quiet room for a heart to heart talk.

"Well, Dad," I told him, "you're 76 and I'm 45. Do you have any advice for me?"

It took him so long to answer that I thought maybe he had dozed off in his wheelchair.

Finally, his response was this. "Don't ever get to be 76!"

H L Wegley said...

Thanks for your comments, Patti and Donna! I have s relative battling two debilitating diseases as she moves into her 70's. When I think about her situation, I don't have much to complain about. If only I could live life as fully as she does within the constraints of her situation.

Claude Nougat said...

My Mom is 100 years old - just celebrated her birthday (I blogged about it, that post was a big success, nearly 400 pageviews, LOL) Why? Because she's like you, it's certainly not for sissies but she takes it laughing...Well, not exactly laughing, but with her sense of humor intact.

And that is by far the best weapon against aging!

Thanks again for sharing, I really enjoyed it and had a good...laugh!

Caroline said...

I know; I know. It's a serious warning against aging (lol) but I couldn't help it. Laughed all the way thru it, especially the part where your wife joined you in the dry heaves!

Bad or good, we ain't got much choice do we? :)

Great post.

H L Wegley said...

You got that right, Caroline. We play the hand that was dealt us -- and the elbows, the achy knees, the deteriorating eyes ...