“You’re old now,” my 28-year old daughter (my youngest) told me on my birthday. She’s into extreme sports.
“You don’t look old; I took you for 55.” A sample comment from people who don’t know me.
“I hate it when people say things like that,” says my wife. “They don’t say how young I look.” She’s 14 years younger.
I am lucky to have relatively good health. I hike and garden in the summer, ski in the winter, but I no longer fell, haul, cut and split firewood in the winter, in part because last year I sold the forest land that was my firewood supply and didn’t replace my woods truck when it broke down.
Relatively good health depends on health care, however, and on Medicare. I’ve been treated for prostate cancer through radiation and would have had to go heavily into debt if it weren’t for good insurance coverage–and a radiologist who is a real human being.
Appearances can also be deceiving. I’m nearly blind in one eye; I bruise ridiculously easily; I had a persistent cold for the whole month of December, and I seem to be vulnerable to every cold that comes along. Last summer, I ended up in the hospital with acute Lyme Disease and Babesiosis. I was told that when I entered the acute disease ward, I was the sickest one there. However, at least one patient died from the ward during my 5-day stay.
I had long-term Lyme two years before and had to have a 9-week course of intravenous antibiotics.
Do I cover up to prevent tick bites? I spend as much time outside as I can, but I do not cover up. In my experience, nothing prevents ticks from catching a ride, but clothes give them more purchase, and more places to hide (underneath them). I’ve had at least three tick bites so far this year (June, 2014), but in each case I felt them early enough (I hope) that I was able to remove them within about an hour of contact. They itch as soon as they penetrate my skin.
Two winters ago I fell through ice into a lake (the property is now for sale) and my body temperature reached the 80’s by the time I arrived at the hospital almost three hours later. At one point, when I was fighting through the rotten ice to a raft, I envisioned my body being found on the lake bottom months later: no one knew I was there. I shouted bloody murder and my wife, very luckily, was walking outside with a client. Otherwise, no one would have heard me.
Another thing about being 75, is that my mother is still living, barely, at 101 and on the strength of that people assure me that I’ll live a long time yet. I wouldn’t really like to live as she does now, however, unable to move, except her forearms and her neck, unable any longer to speak more than a few words. It’s a long, slow death. She also has NO short-term memory. Think about that: even before her long, slow decline,she wouldn’t remember me going out of the room and coming back a few minutes later.
Life begins with crying and never ends well (good deaths are just quick and painless), but life in between may have its points. I’ve settled in a beautiful place (pictures may follow) and there’s a lot to do in the local area: I’m learning salsa, for example; I never knew how to dance anything except the Twist before this.