There are seasons to life, yes? For me, in my mid-forties, this metaphorical late Summer is multi-faceted. Life truly is good: golden and warm and colorful for the most part. If I live to be about 90, I am in the middle of my years. It's very exciting to think that I have at least 45 more of those years as an actual adult to learn and try and experience all that the world has to offer.
Right now though, one thing sobers me, and that is the state of this body of mine, this fair vessel of experiential amazingness. I need it to stay strong for another 45 years and my latest little piece of medical enlightenment has reminded me that nature is against me. I feel certain that this is why people have mid-life crises. I promise I won't go buy a motorcycle or anything, but sheesh it's frustrating to see your own super-powers start to weaken. A few years ago my doctor took down my family medical history; it is filled with many of the baddies such as diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, mental illness, etc., and said, with an almost gleeful interest in my potentially fascinating case, "Well, you're just a ticking time bomb, aren't you?" I didn't appreciate it much at the time, but feared she was right.
This week, the diminishing numbers ticked ever closer to that detonation with a straightforward diagnosis of arthritis. I've had bits of it in some of my joints for a long time, most people do. Now it is a constant thing and spreading-wrists, ankles, hips, shoulder, and most recently, back. I figured that some of the stuff I was experiencing was arthritis, and other things now make sense, such as the fact that I don't actually feel like doing anything at all in the mornings because it feels better to stay warm under my covers for a while, and that about 1 day out of 3 I just feel awful, like I have the flu. I have to admit though, it never occurred to me that the pain in my back was also the dreaded A, not something fixable, like the disc problem the doctor first suspected. Arthritis means it's permanent and will only get worse. Degenerative is the medical term. Love that.
What's to be done? Exercise (one of the great ironies of arthritis is that movement reduces pain and stiffness, but that pain and stiffness make it hard to move-thus it has been for me lately), losing weight, NSAIDs, and a positive attitude. At least until I find out if it's the Osteoarthritis I would get from my dad (and the universe in general) or the Rheumatoid type I could get from my mom. Then it would be a whole 'nuther bundle of fun, baby. Oh yeah.
I realize that as medical problems go, this currently does not rate too highly on the metric of drama and difficulty. Nearly everyone has or gets arthritis in some form. I'm still walking around and I can do everything I need to do. I know. I just need a minute to assimilate this information and adjust, because for me, having watched the bodies of members of my family be absolutely ravaged by arthritis in various forms, this is actually a little bit terrifying.
I'll get over it, though, because the good news is that those same family members are brave and amazing and incredibly strong, so I have a really good road map for how to handle things. I still get to choose how to live each day, pain or not.
So here I am, smack in the middle of my life, trying to enjoy all the sensations of a set of bones in middle-of-life condition. I can't worry though, I have to be ready for all the pending good times. I Am Middle-Aged! Hear Me Creak!