This was the big one – the entry into ‘the club,’ the big 6-0! Gulp – there, I’ve said it. Age was never a big deal for me. 20, 30, 40 even 50 – none of those “big O’s” phased me. However, there is something about turning 60, and admitting it, that gave me great pause. I think this great pause is more than the actual turn of a calendar page. It has to do with the first-ever-in-my life limiting physical issue. This is something I am not used to and something I do not like one bit.
Rewind to last year. As a 40 year running enthusiast, my body began the inevitable process of knee deterioration. All last winter I skirted disaster as I walked cross-campus during the snowiest winter in many moons, on sidewalks that remained snow-covered because the plows couldn’t keep up. The twinges I’d been having (and ignoring) for a couple of years suddenly made their presence known in a cacophonous chorus of pain in minor key. It kept getting worse and an MRI in late May showed a torn meniscus – an easy fix and then back on the trail again – -the running trail, so said the doc.
Three months after surgery to repair it, my knee is worse than before. It resembles a cantaloupe and depending on the day, is excruciatingly painful. What really lays me in lavender is that it rules!! If I go to the gym, just doing low-impact stuff – I pay. If I mow the lawn – I pay. If I take the doggies for a walk around the block – I pay!! I am going bankrupt.
A week ago, almost to the day, was ‘it.’ D-day. V-day! The day of the big 6-0. What, you ask, does that have to do with my knee? Just this. My wonderful man-friend and quasi fiancé handed me a gift that was very long and strange looking. I wrestled with the wrap and lo and behold, out emerged … A CANE!!! And an antique one at that.
I am a bit ambivalent about this gift. I love the sentiment and caring that envelopes it. I hate the vision of hobbling around as a stereo-typical senior citizen. I love its construction of sturdy oak. I hate that it is now a necessary accompaniment on some days, especially those when I must hobble about campus.
I feel like creating and wearing a placard that says “Former runner” as a way to legitimize my limp and mitigate any associated pity. After all, a sports injury is more respectable than a joint disintegrating due to old age?
Old is gold. And a body with aches and pains is a body well-lived.