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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Old Woman Wisdom

I've come to the conclusion that the human body starts to deteriorate at fifty. I know scientists say our physical prowess ebbs after twenty-one and the brain starts breaking down at thirty, but I think the point of no return is fifty.

Since I entered the fifth decade of my life, I've encountered a parade of painful reminders that my body has betrayed me. You'd think the groans I make when getting out of bed would have been a dead giveaway, but I guess I'm harder to convince than most people.

I don't discuss my aches and pains on this blog as a general rule, but bear with me; this does have to do with writing.

Since I have a day job at an office, I spend a good eight hours in front of a computer at work. Then I spend another four to five hours at my computer at home. That's a minimum of twelve hours EVERY day, including weekends.

My sight was the first to decay. I don't even complain about it anymore. It's bad, and only one surgery will correct it. The trouble is my lovely HMO won't cover it.

The second thing to go was my mouse hand. It's handy (pardon the pun) that I'm ambidextrous. Other than being a minor inconvenience until the inflammation settles, it's a problem with a workable solution.

Now it's the nerves running down the backs of my thighs drumming in painful exasperation from sitting too long in an uncomfortable position. I'm short. There's no getting around that. At home I bought a state of the art desk with adjustable legs and a Posturepedic chair. But I run into red tape at work. In order for me to get special furniture I have to prove need. Evidently, walking like Quasimodo doesn't count.

I hate to go through all this trouble. Not that the company won't pony up when pushed against the wall, but because I have to prove (through a doctor) that I'm in pain before they'll listen. The burden of proof is entirely on my shoulders. (Ahh, so that's where that stress comes from…)

I feel silly too because my body has worked fine for more than fifty years. Now all of a sudden it demands special attention. I don't deal well with whining. Even if it's my own.

Writers have to spend a lot of time in front of a computer monitor. If you're like me and have a hard time walking away from one project or another, you are more likely to suffer muscle, nerve or joint damage. Yeah, you young forty-years-olds laugh now, but wait for it. Fifty is just waiting for you to turn that corner. Once you join our old folks' club, there's no going back. (Rubs hands and laughs maniacally.)

So what can you do to offset the inevitable corrosion of the human body?

Here's a start.

• Walk. A good stretch of the legs never hurt anyone.

• Climb stairs. I and many others in my department take the stairs everyday. Only smokers and the handicapped seem to use the elevators.

• Which leads to: don't smoke. I've never smoked and I can't imagine having to deal with addiction, but having known so many ex-smokers, they all tell me quitting was the best thing they ever did. Was it easy? Hell, no. They hated every agonizing moment. But now that they're free of that monkey, they don't regret it.

• Exercise. I was big into exercise in my 30s. (back when I didn't need it) But now work and writing sucks every spare moment. The other day, I found a yoga studio and a workout gym on my way home that looks promising. If I can hit one of them before going home I can return to some regular exercise. It's getting home that thwarts me. Once I get into my comfy clothes, I'm not going out again, so I have to hit a gym that's directly in my line of sight.

• Rest. That includes your eyes, muscles, ligaments and bones. I am terrible about not resting enough. I sleep very little, made worse that I rest even less. This is where I tell you to do what I say and not what I do. I know full well how important it is to rest your body parts, if not your whole.

I ain't twenty anymore. That old woman in the mirror told me so.


Mike Keyton said...

Better frail flesh than weak spirit.

(in Old Testament mode. I'm growing the beard!)

Maria Zannini said...

LOL! Men have it easy. At least you can hide behind a beard.

Mike Keyton said...

You can grow your hair long!

Maria Zannini said...

Heh! I won't live long enough to grow THAT much hair. :o)

Kaz Augustin said...

Good advice. However, your "fifth decade" of life is from 40-49. So, if you're 50 or over, I'm sorry to say it's your ::gulp:: sixth decade of life. Sorry.

0-9 == first
10-19 == second, etc.

Maria Zannini said...

Gee thanks, K! You couldn't have just let me wander in my fantasy world. ROTFL!

Carol Burge said...

I could have written this post myself, except for one thing. My problems started when I turned forty.

I turn forty-seven today - I know, three more years to go, but I've got a head start. LOL

My eyes started going downhill at forty. I NEVER had eye problems until then.

About a month ago I woke up and couldn't move or bend my right wrist (I'm right handed). When I went to sleep, everything was fine, so who knows what was going on there. I couldn't type or use my mouse or brush my hair (although I did make sure it got done) or anything for three days. And of course, this happened on a Friday, so by the time I got in to see the Dr. it was better. :)

I can go on and on, but I won't. :) Thanks for the tips, Maria. Believe me, they'll come in handy for this old girl!

Maria Zannini said...

Happy Birthday, Carol!!

Keep an eye on that wrist. You probably pinched a nerve. That's how mine started.

Anti-inflammatories are our friends. LOL

Diane Craver said...

I can definitely relate to your post. I'm 58. Actually I'm fortunate about my eyesight except for severe dry eyes. I do have the aches and pains though from sitting too long in front of a computer. I'm trying to fit walking into my daily schedule.

Thanks for sharing how it is when you turn fifty.

Maria Zannini said...

Aging is the proof that God has a sense of humor.

LOL! Oww!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm in my thirties and I totally relate. I've been living with carpal tunnel syndrome since my twenties. Now I'm doing the groaning thing when I get out of a chair or lie down in bed. I feel about eighty. :)

Re: the ergonomic setup at work, it's probably worth the hassle. I know my carpal tunnel becomes virtually unnoticeable when I'm using an ergonomically correct setup (now I have to proofread and make sure I didn't type "anatomically correct").

I wish I could get myself to walk every day, but somehow it just doesn't happen.

Maria Zannini said...

Ouch! Carpal Tunnel. It's the life we lead. If only they could perfect voice recognition software, then we could just dictate our novels and save our poor wrists.

Thanks for stopping by, Raven!