It is official: I am old. Actually, it was probably official about 10 years ago, when I started getting called "sir" at rock concerts, or maybe five, when the grey hair really started kicking in. But now it's like extra super official, because I now have Old Guy Malady #1: A Bad Back.
Actually, it may not be my back entirely. It may be my leg, too. Or something else entirely. Like leprosy. Okay not leprosy. That's a joke. I hope. I sure don't want to end up on one of those colonies, with my nose falling off and stuff. That would suck. All I know is, a few months ago, I started getting a dull pain in the back of my right knee. I'd mostly feel it when I would walk up or down stairs, but sometimes it would happen just wherever I walked anywhere. Then it would go away again.
Being a relatively healthy guy--except when I'm dying of pneumonia or fainting on the kitchen floor--I am not used to pain. And so I ignored it. Or figured I was imagining it. Or that maybe it was just a cramp. But then a weird thing started happening: The pain migrated. What started behind my right knee now traveled up to my right lower back, above my hip. And when it kicked in, it was worse. Going up stairs, I now found myself doing the Old Man Grunt out loud, and holding my side, in classic Old Man Gait. Still, though, I kind of ignored it.
Last Saturday, though, I could ignore it no longer. The wife and I were out on a run. I felt the pain in my hip even before we left the house, but, as usual, I ignored it. But about 1.5 miles from our home, it really started hurting. I told my wife to continue on, that I was in a little pain and needed to walk for a minute. She ran on. The problem was, though, that I could now barely even walk. Every time my foot touched the ground, sharp pain went shooting up my leg and into my hip. Being only in running clothes, I had no cell phone on me. If I had, I would have called to get picked up. As it was, I had to limp all the way home, stopping every few feet to rest.
So needless to say, I was kinda freaked out. What was happening to me? The plague? Scurvy? Rickets? Okay,so maybe I've read too many books set in medieval days or on ships. Still, there was clearly a problem. So I made a doctor's appointment. The early diagnosis? Problems with my sciatic nerve. Solution: Get thee to a physical therapist.
Yesterday I went to the physical therapist for the first time. I go back again tomorrow for round two. According to her, I have any number of possible problems, with the sciatic nerve being only one diagnosis. So, in the meantime, I am banned from all exercise, except walking. I have to sit up straight, which really sucks for me because I am a big time sloucher. And I am not allowed to lean into my computer, which makes reading guild chat in WoW that much harder.
Overall I suppose it's no big deal, in the grand scheme of things. Still, it rankles a bit. "Your body is getting older," the physical therapist said. And, yeah, she's right, it is. It's not like I didn't notice this before. But it is, nevertheless, still pretty easy to remain in a permanent state of denial about your own mortality and fragile place in the world. There's a secret part of you that still thinks you're just going to live forever---or at least never have to face up to your own aging process. I mean, wasn't I just in college like just a few years ago???
Most of the time, I'm happy--or at least somewhat at peace-- being as old as I am. I feel like my life has gotten progressively better. I find my 40s much more satisfying than my 30s, and don't even get me started on my 20s, which is like the most overrated age bracket ever. But today, I gotta say, aging sucks.