I was going to write this blog when I turned fifty (just before Christmas), but you know me. I struggle to do anything to a timetable lately, and I’ve proven time and time again that I’m hardly consistent when it comes to writing. But I’m a captive audience today (aptly, sitting in a hairdresser’s chair having my [in reality] salt and pepper-coloured hair dyed blonde for the umpteenth time). And it strikes me sitting here in the salon trying not to be grey, and due to my recent turning of a century, this is the most appropriate post to be writing. I don’t like getting old. I just don’t. I don’t seem to be growing old gracefully and witnessing this slow decline is frankly depressing.
Ooh, Me Back!
I work out. I work out a lot – five times a week at the gym to be precise (not to blow my own trumpet). Five hour-long sessions with a bit of cardio but mostly weight training. I’m getting pretty darn strong if I do say so myself. And for the last four months I’ve been doing yoga every day – Yin Yoga mostly (restorative yoga for flexibility with long-held poses, usually lying down on the floor, which is why I like it) *polishes fingernails on chest*. It’s great for my ailing joints and my ever-fretful mind. So it doesn’t seem terribly fair that I’ve begun to seize up if I sit still too long. When I get up in the morning, my lower back is so ‘on the edge’ that I daren’t attempt to bend down and pull on my socks until I’ve had a cup of coffee and two paracetamols. Honestly, I can feel my back ‘just about to go’ most mornings so I have to be very careful until my body has warmed up a bit before I do anything too strenuous – like pull on workout leggings or reaching down to put my coffee cup in the dishwasher. And my left shoulder (post fracture and frozen shoulder, which is only just starting to thaw) I’ve recently been told by my consultant will never be quite the same, he doesn’t expect me ever to have my full 100% range of motion – ever again. So that sucks. And my left ankle – the one I f***ed up when I fell down the stairs on the way to my gym instructor exam in 2019, that too will never be that young and nubile ankle it was. It still hurts at night with the weight of the duvet on it, and it doesn’t like to flex or extend or rotate anywhere near as much the other one. So, in spite of my impressive exercise resume, I’m still falling apart.
The Dreaded Perimenopause
This is to be expected at the age of fifty, the average age to reach menopause is fifty-two. I first noticed things were going a bit awry when, even though I’ve eaten a healthy diet for years, I had to go up a jeans size due to my increased waistline (and arse-line). I’d always been very proud of my hourglass figure up until now – I had abs for DAYZ! But alas, you can’t really see them anymore. It turns out, due to declining oestrogen, the body begins to lay down fat – often around the waist – as a weak form of oestrogen can be found in fat. Oh, goody. There were also other symptoms; foggy-headedness, increased anxiety and testiness (but the testiness dates back from the day I was born, so I’m not sure the menopause had much to do with that). Oh, and the dreaded night sweats – they weren’t a barrel of laughs. So I’ve joined legions of middle-aged women and commenced HRT. Since the arrival of the oestrogen patch in my life, the night sweats have been virtually eliminated, but the fat around my waistline? Not so much. Come on, body! What is wrong with you? I’m giving you the oestrogen you asked for, here!! It’s a tough thing to admit, but I may just have to settle for the body I have – not the one I had. I’ve recently become converted to anti-diet culture, but the yearning to be what I was is difficult to ignore. I’m doing my best to treat my physical frame just right, but I fear spring chicken-dom as left the coup.
I Can See Clearly Now
I’ve needed glasses for driving and for watching TV for some years, but I knew things were really on the decline as fifty reared its ugly head. I had to move my computer monitor at work a bit closer and turn up the font size on my Kindle and press my head virtually right up to the mirror when doing my mascara. A recent trip the optician has resulted in my very first pair of varifocals. And I DON’T LIKE THEM! It’s just like it says on the tin, parts of the lens vary in different places. The uppermost part is for driving, the mid-section is largely for computer work, and the bottom part is for reading close up. And these weird blurry bits at the edges that I don’t understand. Using them for driving is absolutely fine because that part of the lens is exactly like my old glasses – that part of the prescription hasn’t really changed. But for any other purpose, they make me feel a bit sick. I fear I am not going to get on with them at all, and they weren’t exactly cheap. The only function for which they are a godsend is choir practice. I was really struggling to read the notes and lyrics in my choir book then look up at the choir conductor without pushing my glasses down on my nose and back up into my hair multiple times. And now I feel I can just keep the varifocals on for the entire lesson. Other than that, I’m struggling with them. And what’s more, you’re largely confining yourself to wearing glasses all the time. And I don’t think I want to be described as ‘the lady in the glasses‘. I know what you’re thinking – contacts. But I’m just not up for that. Sticking things on my eyeballs is a ghastly prospect and I feel they’re a breeding ground for eye infections. Maybe one day, I’m just not ready to go down that road just yet.
I could go on, but there is such a thing as TMI, you know. And none of you really want to hear about gynaecological problems if you’re honest. I’m happy to grow old gracefully. I’ve no interest in fillers or Botox or enlargements or reductions. Of course I’m not as fresh-faced as I once was, and I could even kid myself that the wrinkles make me look distinguished if I were so inclined. I’m an oldie but a goodie – maybe even a straight-up snack (well, maybe not, but I can’t help but think I look better than the twenty-five-year-old photo above). I don’t feel the need to turn back the hands of time, I might even let my hair go grey one day (once it is properly grey). I just want my body to operate the way it did before. But as the old saying goes, age doesn’t come alone. No, it brings along all its irritating friends. I still have the emotional maturity of a twenty-one-year-old, and yet I don’t expect my physical exterior or interior to match. Just to function properly for, say, another fifty years would be smashing. I keep working on it; I’ll go to the gym and do my yoga just so I can continue getting up the stairs and get in the bath without adaptions for many years to come, so I can stand upright and not hunched over – up until they put me in a nursing home. And I guess I’ll just come to terms with the little bits and bobs that fail me along the way. Now, where’s that hot water bottle? My back is killing me.