It’s funny isn’t it, (and I don’t mean, ‘Ha!Ha!, I mean weird), the way our bodies turn on us in our old age, so that all those parts that have functioned so superbly for seventy or eighty years suddenly become our worst enemies!
Like my legs… True friends that carried me faithfully over many a forty kilometer day’s hike when I was young, but now turn into a pair of blubbering bags of jelly after about a hundred meters of moderate effort!
And it doesn’t creep up on me gently either, gradually becoming tired so that I can make arrangements for what I know is starting to happen, like searching for a suitable ‘sit-down’ place, or at least a fence or something to lean against.
No, on stride ninety-nine I feel fine, but by stride one hundred and one I’m a crippled wreck, which can be quite embarrassing if I happen to be in a crowd, who have suddenly to weave their way around me and my walking stick to avoid crashing into me.
And it’s much the same story with my bladder too, I can get up from a chair in our living-room, feeling fine, and start shuffling, (as we oldies are inclined to do), towards the door. But before I can get to that door, about five shuffles away I suddenly need to have a pee - urgently!
So, in the space of about two seconds, my body takes me from the peace of an apparently empty bladder to the ultimate urgency of a full one; if I don’t get to the toilet within seven seconds I shall wet myself. Now is that the proper way for a bladder to treat the human who has looked after it, since curing it of doing the same thing, soon after it was born?
My bowels are inclined to give me the same treatment as my water works too; I won’t go into details, but that can be even messier than my ungrateful bladder. Like many senior citizens I had to start wearing special clothing as a defense, and that does at least make me more comfortable but I can’t help feeling that somehow it’s obvious to anyone who sees me that I am bulkier around that part of my body than I should be!
My hearing’s not a sharp as it was when I joined the RAF and consequently I recently took to using hearing aids, which help quite a lot. But even here there is a problem, due partly I must admit, to the COVID disaster going on at the moment.
You see, like everyone else I am compelled to wear a mask whenever I go out, which is fine, except that the loops of elastic that hold it on get tangled with the very tiny hearing aids I have, trying to stay attached to the back of my ear.
But they are no match for those short loops of elastic, which get tangled in my aids and pulls them off every time I remove the mask, something I have tried every way I can think of to avoid, but so far without much success.
The big problem is of course, that the aids may be small, but their price is BIG!
To get back to when I was young. There was a time when I used to go ‘caving’, or ‘speleology’, as real people call it, an interesting pastime that involves crawling about in underground tunnels or caves, some of which can be extremely small.
The smallest I ever went through was known as “The Drainpipe” and it was a ten meter long tube, four hundred and fifty millimeters in diameter at its widest point; to crawl through it I had first to decide whether I wanted to go through with my hands above my head or down at my side, the pose couldn’t be changed once you were in the tube, but I got through without much trouble.
Since then though, I have led a reasonably comfortable life and I have undoubtedly put on a centimeter or two round my waist, so that now I doubt I could enter the cave entrance, let alone the dreaded ‘Drainpipe’!
You see? I can’t even trust my body to keep me in good shape!
Finally there’s my heart and my lungs. Any effort stronger than lifting a cup of tea up to my lips can make me breathless, due mainly to the atrial palpitations I now suffer from, an irregular beating of my heart, so that it is less efficient these days than it was sixty years ago and doesn’t move blood to my lungs and other parts of my body as efficiently as it should.
This means I quickly run out of, or at least become short of, oxygen, needed to make everything else work well.
But despite all these, and other parts, ganging up on me, I’m still here, enjoying life with my wife Jacqui, just as we always have – we just have to aim for slightly less energetic amusements than we used to all those years ago, that’s all!
(c) 2021 - Brian Lee