Whenever I get together with my friends and relatives—most of them Baby Boomers—and someone asks, “How are you?”, it is no longer a rhetorical question.
Instead, it opens a virtual can of worms, a list of aches and pains for what ails them, including recent diagnoses for conditions including diabetes, COPD, heart conditions, kidney ailments, joint problems, muscle aches, et al.
My friend Barb calls them “organ recitals” because just about everyone in my age bracket has some kind of awful disease or condition, including some affecting their internal organs.
My, How We’ve Changed Over The Years.
In my late teens and 20s, I could party all night almost every day of the week. In my 30s, I reserved that revelry for Hump Day (Wednesday) and weekends. In my 40s and 50s, it was typically Saturday night. Now, as I ease into my 70s, my wife and I sit down to eat dinner earlier and earlier, and we catch the matinee rather than the late show at our local theater.
The Litany of “Ohhhh”.
“Tripping” is what we all did in our younger years when we enjoyed recreational drugs, but now it means taking a fall, literally.
Here’s a personal list of falls and bodily failures in my life:
- I tripped over a pipe on my daily hiking trail a few years ago, tearing my right hip labrum. It’s a bit painful and will eventually need orthoscopic surgery to repair it.
- My wife slipped on a rocky trail, necessitating partial knee replacement surgery. It “blew” up—swelling twice its size and had to be aspirated—while we were on a Mediterranean Cruise a few years ago. Recently, she slipped on the hardwood floor in our condo and did a face plant. That cracked a rib, bruised a few others, and slammed her surgically repaired knee so severely that it frequently swells up, locks in position, has had to aspirated twice more, and she’s using crutches to keep weight off that knee. She’s a candidate for a “scope” to clean it out soon and repair any tears.
- One of my friends had heart valve replacement surgery about 18 months ago and is doing just fine.
- Another friend who is quite athletic lost his footing on a hike and slid down the mountain side sending his glasses flying and scraping his forearm raw as he tried to guide his way down. That same arm is due for surgery this month for another problem.
- His Mom, who is in her late 80s, had a fall last week, but fortunately, did not break anything.
- Just last week, my cousin tripped over her dog at home and broke her ankle. (The dog is fine. No animals were hurt during the writing of this blog.)
- A good friend of ours tripped while walking to the bathroom in the middle of the night and also broke her ankle—in two places.
- My twin brother has had surgeries for hip replacement, a procedure on his neck, and several on his tear ducts.
- Our older sister has been having back spasms; she received a pain blocker a few weeks ago.
- A friend in Southern California passed out twice at home; the first time, she cracked five ribs and the second time, she broke her nose and cut her upper lip.
- Another severely fractured his leg skiing and has been laid up for a few months now.
- Another buddy has congestive heart failure with two cardiac arrests and had a close call recently with a severely low oxygen level.
- My barber’s mother-in-law fell in their home and fractured her tibia.
- I have at least half a dozen friends who have survived prostate cancer and as many women who are breast cancer survivors.
- Finally, a writing colleague in Nevada caught COVID-19, spent three months in ICU, his immune system was so depleted that he formed a blood clot in a lower leg, and he had to have that leg amputated below his knee. He is now wearing a prosthetic, is learning how to walk with it, and is grateful to have survived this horrific ordeal.
I could go on and on. I’m sure your circle of friends and relatives has similar problems.
The only advice I can give is keep active, walk slowly, make sure you always wear sturdy shoes with good soles, watch where you’re going, and use a hiking pole or a cane if you’re the least bit unsteady on your feet. And be careful putting your socks on. You don‘t want to pull a muscle or lose your balance!
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SGD is a San Francisco Bay Area advertising, marketing and branding agency specializing in the senior and boomer markets. We’ve successfully positioned, branded and rebranded senior-oriented companies, weaving traditional and online tactics to create compelling stories that drive response.
About the Author: Gil Zeimer is a Partner at SGD Advertising.