Saturday, February 5, 2011

Signs and Symptoms

A friend of mine writes a humor blog about being a twenty-something parent of very young children. (Read her column at "".) Recently she posted an article about all the physical symptoms no one ever tells you about before you become pregnant. I have to say that being pregnant is nothing compared to being over 50.

Changes related to aging happen more slowly than pregnancy changes, so perhaps we don't notice them as they sneak up on us. However, some of the symptoms of aging are similar to being pregnant. Your belly protrudes more than it did when you were younger. Your back aches more often. You can't bend over as easily. There are many things you can no longer eat or drink without your stomach complaining, and many other things you shouldn't.

Of course, there are many other changes that are not similar. Your hair thins. Your breasts droop. Other parts of your anatomy are slower to rise up to the occasion. You cannot read the fine print on medications without reading glasses. Teenagers ask us why the TV is so loud. Tylenol PM graces our nightstands for those everyday aches and pains. A few of us have already had knee or hip replacements. Or even open heart surgery. (Robin Williams, Charlie Rose, and David Letterman, to name a few.)

Someone once said "Aging is not for sissies". I think whoever said that was right. I am sure that there are many more changes up ahead, and it doesn't thrill me to think about them. I already own bifocals and color the grey in my hair, not to mention bearing the long-term residual effects of several accidents that happened while I was in my twenties and thirties.

These days, open heart surgery is routine (although still very serious business). People who would have died fifty years ago can get a new lease on life and live another 20 or 30 years. It is amazing what medical science can do today to prolong life.

Yes, I remember what it was like to be pregnant. (Well, sort of. Memory is something else that declines with aging.) But you have a choice whether or not to bear children. One does not choose to grow old; it just happens. However, as the saying goes, getting older is usually preferable to the alternative.

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