Saturday 1 October 2016

The only thing still working is my denial

Published 21/03/2016 | 02:30

Fellas bounce around now in their 60s, cycling like young lads.
Fellas bounce around now in their 60s, cycling like young lads.

You delude yourself more and more about age. I've decided people in their 30s are only kids. And 50 is actually quite a young age when you think about it. I tell myself that at 46 I'm about half way there. Which isn't too bad is it? I feel like I've been here forever, so the second half will feel like forever too. And that feeling that life is flying past faster all the time is just in my head. You ignore that disbelief that we are over another winter, that it's 2016. It hits me hardest when I check the date on something that feels like yesterday and it turns out to be ten years ago.

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The delusion is probably helped by being healthier now than I was ten years ago. I'm fitter now. Not fit but fitter. I am slimmer. I can wear whatever I like within reason. We have a new house. It feels like starting again after years of renting. It feels like this is just the beginning, like the real adventure is starting now.

But things prick at your delusion. I am crocked too in so many ways. I am accumulating issues. I have lists of them to be dealt with. I am finally getting the endodontic work that will hopefully fix the gums, to which I have been a martyr for years. I am due the scope again soon too, that awful night of drinking the stuff, that evacuates your body in such an alarming manner so that you are totally cleaned out and they can send the scope up and in. Precancerous growths the last time. Who can say what that means, but of course it freaks you out, so you return for more scoping of the gut. Things aren't entirely right there anyway. Maybe I need one of those fecal transplants they talk about, to change the bacteria in the gut. That's the root of everything, they say now. Bad bacteria that live in the gut plotting various diseases and discomfort for you.

The arm will probably never be 100pc again. And there's more. The hearing deteriorates. And I've started to have to hold things away, then closer, then move them away again, to focus on reading. I'll need a selfie stick soon to read things. I will get to the optician at some stage. I have it on the list. After the extensive endodontic work, and the scope.

The nose and sinuses are the latest issue. Going like a tap some days. After a cold swim it can run like a tap for the day, immune to antihistamine or steroid spray. And the steroid spray can make you jumpy. I'm beginning to think I should get the nose looked into too.

I suppose I can console myself with the fact that the cholesterol seems to be under control. A lot of guys my age seem to be on the statins and the blood pressure medication. So I'm lucky that way. Though there is a blood pressure thing I bought in the chemist sitting upstairs looking at me, waiting for me to take regular readings for three days and send them to the doc. Hopefully it's OK. I'm prone to white-coat hypertension, which is when doctors drive your blood pressure up. So it should be fine at home.

Starting to take medication would be another ending, another giving in, another hole pricked in the delusion.

None of this was ever going to happen to me. And I still don't believe that any of the real medical issues of ageing will visit me. I'm looking after myself now, so I'll be one of those gnarly, wiry little oul fellahs who hits the cold sea every day to restart the system. I'll travel all over the place with the kids, one of those nippy septuagenarians who bounces around the place full of beans. There won't even be old people by the time I get there. We will all just continue on middle-aged by then. I mean look at it. Fellas bounce around now in their 60s, cycling the hills like young lads. That's what we all do in our ways - we run away from it, get out of our heads on some kind of repetitive meditation - cycling, running, swimming. I'm not looking for anything in the pool or the sea or the lake. I'm just looking to get away from land, to immerse myself.

And we try and get fitter so that we can forget we are dying, to try and make ourselves more alive. And nothing wrong with it. The more you can feel alive, the more moments you can stop and look around you and think, 'I'm living', then the less you are dying. But you have to look under the bonnet now and then too. I'll get the gums and the scope and the rest done now. And, who knows, it might see me through to the next NCT.

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