21 hours ago
Saturday, June 14, 2008
The funny thing about getting old...er
I have been with my beloved partner, KLK, for 23 years. KLK is eight years younger than I, and should be commensurately far behind me in the deterioration process we all more or less experience as we hit the start of our second half century.
Since he thought himself a 97-pound weakling in high school, and desired to emulate (or compete with, or prove himself to) his well-built, masculine father, he has exercised religiously since then. His routine throughout his adult life included running for his aerobic workout, and lifting free weights for strength and bulk. I always found his lean physique, gently curved and firm belly, and large upper arms to be endearingly attractive. But I never realized how I have taken his strength for granted. Yes, I surely did assume he would be there at the far end of whatever heavy object needed to be moved, held, or hefted, in spite of increasingly frequent visits to the orthopedist for assurance that this, that, or the other joint or muscle pain was not serious.
Recently (very recently), he celebrated his 50th birthday. Three weeks later, he completely detached one of two bicep tendons in his left arm. He'd been installing a window air conditioner in his grandma's window, but the snap suddenly came when he had nothing in his hands. He's had considerable pain, which he recognized from the moment it happened as serious, since. His doctor says the MRI he had a month ago for shoulder pain shows a partial rotator cuff tear, and the bicep destruction needs no high-tech diagnostics, as it is evident just looking at his arm when he bends his elbow where the muscle has rolled back on itself, leaving a cave in his upper arm where it used to be stretched taut by the tendon attached at the other end to his shoulder. The treatment is rest (he's not terribly good at that), gentle physical therapy, which he will do, and time. The best outcome would be complete resolution of the pain. He will never have that strength of youth again, though, and he cannot, at least in the foreseeable future, be the guy I call when our granite-topped (yes!) dining table needs moving.
In some ways, this has been more of a reality check for me even than comparing photos of my face from 30, 20,10 years ago with what I look like today in the mirror. It's true what they say, even as one pushes 60 there's no inner feeling of difference, though it's also true that memory and other weird things start to slip (I sometimes experience aphasia and entirely the wrong word - spoken, written, or typed - comes out; probably an early indicator of eventual dementia, but I'm not quite there yet).
Denial is a good thing, but it only gets you so far.