Do you remember those heady days when you could do whatever you damn well pleased? Eat what you wanted whenever you wanted to, drink whatever you felt like drinking, sleep for however long or in which ever way you desired? How I envy those who can do whatever they like in life. Ahh, to be free of all these restrictions and limitations that age and questionable health place on you. And my restrictions seem to be mounting up with each passing day.
1) Eat Pies
I want to be clear from the get-go, I like pies. Not sweet appley or fruity things; proper savoury meat pies. With a base. And a lid. Don’t give me that poor substitution of a mass of meat and gravy in a dish covered with a poofy, airy bit of puff pastry that disintegrates at the mere mention of saliva; I’m talking full-on, honest-to-goodness pies. However, love them as I might, for the last five years or so, I haven’t been able to eat them. You see I suffer with gastritis, which is inflammation of the stomach mucosa (mine is of the erosive form which affects part of the stomach lining. Yay!). I’ve been taking PPI’s (Proton Pump Inhibitors) for years – medication which reduces the production of stomach acid to alleviate this. And I’ve had to learn to eat differently too; learn which foods upset me the most. One of those foods is pies. Yes that delicious pastry we all love can keep me awake all night in great discomfort. So pies have had to go. Goodbye pies, I’ll never forget you.
2) Leave House Without Glasses
Even though I received my first fairly unnecessary pair of glasses at around the age of 15, it was only when I started taking driving lessons in my early twenties that the fact I couldn’t see number plates made glasses officially a part of my life. But up until the last few years or so, I still didn’t consider myself a glasses-wearer. They were kept in the car and used only for driving. Now I’m 44, I wouldn’t leave the house without them.Without glasses, I can’t see our TV (and it’s a big TV), and I can’t go to cafés or restaurants or anywhere that would require me to look up at a board to make a menu choice. I’d be like a foreigner in a non-English-speaking country because I’d feel helpless and simply not know what was on offer. Without glasses, I couldn’t do the school run because mum-friends would virtually need to be on top of me before I recognised them, and I’d just walk by without a wave or smile, ignoring everyone and be universally hated (more than I am already). I still don’t wear glasses all the time even now (but they’re always in my pocket or up in my hair), but that’s more out of vanity than anything. The optician says I’ll need them full-time when I reach fifty (in five-and-a-half-years). Bring on the lasers!!
3) Take Nurofen
Nurofen/Ibuprofen/Non-Steroidal-Anti-Inflammatories, call them what you like, I can’t have ’em any more. This comes back to the gastritis thing again; they affect my already-damaged stomach lining and make me feel unwell. So I’m pretty much left with plain old Paracetamol (Tylenol) for pain relief; which in some instances, just isn’t strong enough. I can’t take codeine either as it makes my head spin. Unfortunately, Ibuprofen is just top of my medicine-kit-list for some ailments; I don’t think anything lowers your temperature quite so well. One year I had terrible flu – completely burning up; Paracetamol just wouldn’t touch it. So out of desperation, I took some Nurofen. Flu-wise, I felt infinitely better. Stomach-wise, not so much. But it was a one-off. Ibuprofen, I love you, but you’re dead to me.
4) Sleep Through Night Without Needing a Wee
I’m hugely miffed about this one. I wouldn’t say I’m at the point of having a peanut bladder, but it’s fifty-fifty whether I’ll have an entire night of uninterrupted sleep. And I know that will only get worse with time. I’ve already limited how much I can drink after a certain point in the day. I go for a wee just before I go to bed, read for about half an hour, have another wee (just to be on the safe side) and turn off the light. Fingers crossed I won’t wake up until morning.
5) Drink Wine
It makes me throw up. It didn’t used to, but it does now. It’s a pisser.
6) Eat More Than 1700 Calories
I’m not going to labour the point as I’ve talked about diets FAR too many times in the past. I’ve lost weight and now I’m in the process of maintaining that weight loss. I’m 44 and I’m short – so this (bar the occasional splurge), is how much I get to eat on a daily basis or, without a shadow of a doubt, I will gain weight again. It sucks a little bit.
7) Sleep Without Earplugs
I’m going to keep this brief and attempt to be diplomatic. My husband snores. I’ve never heard worse. He didn’t snore when we met. He does now. He’s getting older too, so it’s not his fault. But without a pair of nightly silicone earplugs stuffed in my ears, I would be awake for the entire night. Or he would dead.
8) Sleep Without Gum Shield
Another ailment I have picked up along the way (they’re mounting up, aren’t they?), is bruxism. That’s teeth-grinding to you and me. It started after a bereavement five years ago and it’s never gone away. I grind my teeth all night long (and some of the day if I don’t catch myself). The dentist says it’s already wearing down and cracking some of my molars (and it’s caused a delightful clicking of my jaw whenever I eat. Yay!). So now I wear a gum shield at night. All I need now is to put curlers in my hair before bed too, just to add to my already highly attractive night-time paraphernalia.
9) Chew Gum
Because of number 8, I have a disorder of the TMJ (temporomandibular joint) too, caused by the teeth-grinding. This has caused clicking, pain and I can’t open my mouth fully. Chewing gum makes this considerably worse. I love chewing gum (apart from the slight drawback that I often used to bite the inside of my mouth, causing mouth ulcers) but I did love that minty taste. And a packet could always be found in my bag. However, that love can no longer be. No more gum for me.
10) Wear Natural, Undyed Hair
I don’t even want to put a guess on how long I’ve been dying my hair. Oh alright then, I’ll take a stab at it. I’d say I was 12 or 13. Of course I didn’t need to dye my hair back then. It’s just I’ve always had dull and boring mid-brown hair. Or at least I think I have; I haven’t seen my natural colour in decades. But I do see the roots. Ah, the roots. The bane of my bloody life. And those roots are definitely more grey than brown now. Damn it, I’d kill for dull and boring mid-brown hair that needed zero intervention right now. But no, every six weeks, out comes the hair dye – wiping out a quarter of a day with a head covered in cold, purplish gunk just so I’m not greying any more. It makes me so frustrated when dyeing-day comes around, I could spit. I could spit, I tell you!
11) Go ANYWHERE Without Lip Salve
Sorry, had to add an 11th. After years of lip-salve-overuse, my lips just cannot produce their own moisture any more. What’s that about?
So consequently, I’ve pretty much just spent the last few hundred words moaning about how I can no longer eat or sleep the way I want. Your beefs may be completely different, if you’d like to tell me about them. But my daily life takes a lot more thought and consideration than it once did. That overnight bag I would once pack with gay abandon, is now packed with far more consideration. I painstakingly tick off each necessary item before I leave my house; money, keys, phone, glasses, ear plugs, gum shield, Paracetamol, PPI’s, antacids, lip salve, nail file (oh, and clothes). Ready! What do you mean we missed the plane? I mean, I know things could be infinitely worse and I should count myself lucky, it’s not like I’m having to carry around a 10kg oxygen cylinder or anything. But I’m no longer footloose and fancy free either. I can’t jet off at a moment’s notice, live on a commune or a desert island. I am tied to the trappings of the western world, because of the stresses of the western world. Life needs a little more planning than it did when I was in my 20’s. I’m very healthy really, as long as I don’t ignore the restrictions. The general day-to-day upkeep of me has become more complex. It’s the same with all of us and the list of things we need to do for self-maintenance will grow and grow, I expect. It’s true, that old saying, ‘age doesn’t come alone’. No it bloody well brings along with it countless, uninvited and annoying friends. Thanks for that.