An incurable affliction

I’M AN OLD MAN, and I don’t like it one bit.

New ImageThis phenomenon sneaks up on you like a rat snake. First, you feel the energy level slipping. I initially noticed that about a decade ago when I was in my mid-60s.

That’s when I quit mowing the yard in summertime.

Then your body begins to jig and jag in various ways, nothing that puts you out of commission (yet), but it’s noticeable. Your balance becomes unreliable. You feel this most on standing from a chair or bed.

What separates the sickness of aging from other afflictions like a bad cold, the flu or injuries from a motorcycle accident is that you can recover from a bad cold or flu and, with luck, from accident injuries of every sort.

But there is no recovering from getting old. There is no pill to take. You will not take an aspirin and feel better in the morning. It’s a downhill skid.

This is rather disturbing, that there is no cure for the first time in your life. But I have been fortunate. I can say there is no cure for the first time in my life because — knock on wood — I’ve never had anything incurable befall me. Others are not so lucky.

I have no vices, and I’m skinny svelte. These things work in my favor. I used to have vices. Smoking, drinking. But I quit smoking about 30 years ago, and I quit drinking on a March evening in Houston, 1996.

I started smoking at age 19 when I was in the Air Force. I smoked pipes like David Niven, cigars like Fidel Castro and cigarettes like millions of people. Oddly, it was not very difficult to stop smoking. I tapered off. No cold turkey for this boy. I recommend that method.

I started drinking in my mid-20s when I was married to my first wife. It was moderate at first, and I favored Southern Comfort, which is ghastly now that I think back on it. Syrupy swill.

After the first divorce at 26, I got serious about drinking, switching to alcohol for adults, and I remained serious about 25 years. I wasn’t a falling-down drunk nor a nasty one. But I did drink daily, every single, solitary day. Then I quit. Life improved immensely.

Oddly again, quitting was easy, easier than stopping smoking.

And I was not always skinny svelte either. I weighed about 55 pounds more than I do now until I was in my early 30s. Heftiness is bad for your health, and you’re less likely to reach an advanced age if you’re a meatball.

I weigh now what I weighed at age 21.

So, no smoking, no drinking and skinny svelte, all positive things if you don’t want to die prematurely, and I will not die prematurely.

It’s too late for that. I can only die via the normal schedule.

I’m hanging in there, but I don’t like it. And there’s no good solution. There is only one cure. And you know what that is.

Vista of a Mexican yogi

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View while sitting cross-legged on the faux Persian rug in the living room. Ommmmm.

LAST DECEMBER, I wrote here about throwing my back out, as they say, rendering myself a temporary cripple.

I’ve had that problem now and then for decades, far more before my last divorce,* but it usually cures itself in four or five days. Last December it lasted two weeks, which had only happened once before. It was a hard time.

But it woke me up. Though I’ve done somewhat light exercise on a regular basis for decades I had begun to get lazy about it, and that matters.

I have a gym set here at home, and my schedule had been thrice a week, and I cheated occasionally. I now do it five times a week. I still cheat some, but not often and not without good reason.

I also do a 20-minute, rapid walk around the neighborhood plaza. Again, I was known to cheat, but now I’m cheating far less.

A new element is some light stretching exercise. I call that yoga, but it’s not. It’s stretching. I do short stretching of my back in the morning before getting to the gym set, and in the late afternoon after returning from my usual café Americano negro on the main plaza downtown.

That afternoon session is longer and involves lying and sitting on the living room floor atop a faux Persian rug. Sometimes I even light incense. I’m invariably alone at that hour, between 6 and 7.

While sitting, I’m getting the view above. The lights are out, and the late afternoon sun is out thataway. Thought I’d share the view with you.

* * * *

* It’s an issue with a psychological element.

(Note 1: Aging is no fun though I appear to be holding up better than most geezers my age. Last September I wrote here about a crippling heel spur I had developed. There is no good solution to that except for surgery. I chose to do nothing because it only bothered me now and then. I thought it was permanent, but it lasted eight months and vanished. Just recently. How about that!)

(Note 2: Unrelated to anything written so far but included just to keep you up to date on Hacienda joys and sorrows, a lightning strike on Monday fried our Samsung 32-inch LED smart TV, our TV-cable box, and a wifi box. The surge entered via the TV cable, not the electric wires. I have a surge protector by the TV, but I only had the TV power cable connected to it. The surge protector also has the option of running the TV cable through it, but I had foolishly not done so, an expensive oversight. As for wifi, I have two services, which is how I am communicating with you right now.

(I’ve already purchased another TV and connected it to Netflix, which is all I watch anyway. Our TV cable provider is a company called Megacable. Its service is abysmal, so Lord knows when the second wifi will be restored. I really don’t care about the cable TV, but my child bride watches it while she irons.)

De common code

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I GODDA CODE. Yes, a cold. Started last Friday night, and it’s marching on, day by day, not improving, not worsening.

I loathe colds with a passion. Everybody dislikes them, but my feeling toward them is red-hot, sizzling. And if anyone around me has a cold, expect me to stay 10 feet away.

That, or I’ll be running out the door, screaming.

My biggest fear is that it will lead to a sinus infection, which it can do. Sinus infections are hell on earth or, at least, that’s how I see them. Any ailment above the neck is dreadful.

Since moving to Mexico, I’ve been fascinated with the locals’ cavalier attitude toward colds. First off, few seem to make a distinction between the common cold and the flu, which is a whole different ballgame.

The Spanish-English dictionary defines cold as resfriado, but I’ve never heard anybody use that word. The word they use is gripa, which the dictionary defines as flu.

Go figger.

No Mexican I know shares my horror of the common cold. You can have red eyes, a scarlet nose and be dripping snot all over the place,  sneezing your head off, and you still get the damnable cheek kiss if someone wanders by.

Last Saturday when my current cold was still iffy, I was downtown, and my sister-in-law appeared.

She leaned over to plant the damnable Latino cheek kiss on me, and I said, “Better not. I have a cold.” “I don’t care,” she replied, and let me have it. These people are loco.

Many years ago, when I still lived above the Rio Bravo, I often neglected the yearly flu shot. Then I got a case of the flu, which a doctor told me was rather mild. If that was mild, I sure didn’t want to risk the whole enchilada.

Now I get a flu shot yearly. Been doing it for ages. My child bride never got a flu shot before she knew me, but now she does, at my insistence.

I haven’t been away from the Hacienda since Saturday. I live in my pajamas. My feet are in Polar Pairs (c) shoe-socks. My cold remains relatively low-grade, and I am waiting it out.

After breakfast, I wandered out to the yard, noticed the view above, and snapped a photo. Gotta have artwork.

Now it’s time for another movie on Netflix.

About the plaza

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JUST UNDER two blocks away, our neighborhood plaza is where we walk most every morning weekdays. Weekends are for other things.

Off one corner of the plaza, there’s the view above, showing the elevated railway track, the same that passes near our Hacienda down thataway to the left. All my life I lived in flatlands, wishing I lived in mountains, and now I do, and it’s wonderful.

We’re not the only folks to walk the plaza, however. There’s this old dude below. I very much admire his spunk because that’s an exercise walk he’s doing too, but with a walker. He inches along.

He needs knee replacements, on both sides, but he’ll never get them. We always say hi as we speed by, relatively speaking, lapping him many times over. Sometimes he rests on a steel bench. Other times he pauses and chats with others. He keeps his mustache well trimmed.

cripple

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