Growing older is a lot of fun, said nobody ever | Column

by | October 6, 2018 5:00 am

Last Updated: October 3, 2018 at 11:03 am

Growing older is a lot of fun, said nobody ever.
It’s a privilege denied to many, so it would be petty to gripe about it. But it’s surprising to realize that I now have more doctors than fingers. How does that happen?
At 30, I had a family doctor who handled everything: Sore throat, insomnia, colds, flu, rashes, pap smears, the whole enchilada.
Today I have an internist, a dermatologist, a gynecologist, a podiatrist, an endocrinologist, an osteopath, a gastroenterologist and an ophthalmologist. Plus a dentist, oral surgeon and chiropractor. Add in the occasional visit to a doc-in-the-box (stuck contact, sudden-onset bronchitis) and there you have it: More doctors than digits.
I’m paying for a lot of private school tuition, but bring it on. So many people in the world lack even basic medical care, I’m grateful to live in a country with advanced diagnostics and a plethora of medicines to treat whatever ails me. (Although one condition I have, RBF, is incurable and lifelong. Look it up.)
I’m also grateful for insurance that allows me access to that health care without having to sell my firstborn child. (I don’t have children, but if I did I’d probably hate to sell one.)
With all these docs at my disposal, I still have to be dragged kicking and screaming into a medical office. Once there I’m fine—I always watch when they take blood—but actually walking in the door feels like a personal failure.
Here’s my reasoning: Why, if I get enough sleep, eat veggies, exercise (in shoes that cost more than the rent on my first apartment), avoid sugar, keep my weight down and drink sparingly, WHY do I end up at the doctor(s)?
Because apparently the aging process won’t be denied. Or, as my husband Widdle Baby likes to say, “I didn’t have a pain until I turned 50.”
Given that he married me at 50, one could take umbrage at that crack, but I take his point. I used to pop out of bed like a Jack-in-the-box and hit the ground running. Now I wake up, grab my magic sports roller and use it vigorously on both legs before setting a single toe on the floor. (Thank you, plantar fasciitis.)
Then there’s the unexpected: Last week we were watching the second season of “Ozark” when a sudden twinge pierced my lower back. My first thought was that I’d been stuck with a shiv (if you watch “Ozark,” you get it), but only Widdle was there and he looked perfectly innocent. (Don’t be fooled, friends: He always looks innocent.)
My back twinged a couple more times, sharp enough to make me gasp, and then it stopped. Hasn’t happened since. So what the heck was it? Am I dying, or is my body just betraying me one mystery pain at a time?
I’m lucky: I have low blood pressure, good cholesterol levels and strong bones. (Bad teeth, though. Soft as soap.) Some of my peers have had a hip replaced, or a hysterectomy, or gallbladder surgery. I still have all the parts I came into the world with, although I may have sacrificed a few brain cells in my wayward youth.
I just hate to admit that I’m aging. I feel the same as I did at 20, but the lines around my eyes tell a different story. And my hands suddenly look like my mother’s hands. I was happy to inherit her wit and tenacity, but I do not want her wrinkly knuckles.
The upside is, I have a good man to grow old with, and plenty of medical help along the way. Lucky me.

(Julie R. Smith, who will die of hypochondria, can be reached at

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