I’m going to live forever. I’ve written that before. Five years ago when I was a shiny new blogger, fit, coasting in an easy job, spending at least eight hour per week writing, immortality looked like a good idea. My kids were younger, less complicated; my relationships were better, I still had friends. I couldn’t see a reason to slow down, I decided I would never stop.
This morning, while working on my back, some cold facts smacked me like a pie in the face. Next week I’m going to be fifty-seven. In thirty years, I’ll be eighty-seven. Eighty-seven is the end of the road. My father is eighty-eight. He’s in great health–for an eighty-eight-year-old, but still every conversation starts with the disclaimer “Not that I’ll be around to see it…” I see my expiration date, it’s 2049.
I’ve made a pretty big swing in the past five years; I’m feeling pretty mortal. Part of it is my back. In June, preparing for a book sale at work, I lifted a hundred boxes of books from the floor to various table tops. Once delivered, volunteers sorted the books by categories, lined them up by size and color, made the spines easy to read for the hundreds of shoppers expected over the next three days. Lift with your legs, they said. Well I never have before, and I never had a problem. After three hours of labor, I headed into work to do the accounting tasks they actually pay me to do.
The next day, cleaning my cat box at home, I went to the garage to grab the five-gallon bucket full of litter. Every time I hoist one of these things into my cart at Walmart, I wonder how frail old women deal with these things. I can lift them, but I don’t like to lift them. They keep getting larger, heavier.
After dropping off the litter tub next to the cat box, I went to grab the vacuum. And that’s when it happened. Those boxes from the day before planted a time bomb. Something was ready to be out of whack, I just needed to move the right way to activate it. And since mid-June, my back has slowly been healing. And I’ve slowly been adding exercises to my morning routine to help strengthen it. Face down on the floor, raising opposing arm and leg combinations, I realized I’m not sure I even want to live thirty years.
In the past five years, I’ve gone from turning the TV up a click or two to help me hear, to not being able to understand the other half of the conversation while I’m wearing hearing aids. While watching TV as a family—Brooklyn Nine-Nine right now—we’ve given up trying. Eli turns on the subtitles before I even ask.
Recently, I’m becoming more aware of my surroundings, or at least what I’m missing from my surroundings. Once an avid cyclist, I barely ride a bike any more. A couple of weeks ago, it hit me. I don’t like to ride because I can’t hear. When wearing hearing aids, I just hear the rushing of the wind going by my head; without hearing aids, I don’t know if a car is behind me. If I extrapolate the hearing loss of the past five years over the next thirty, I’m going to be stone deaf.
Back in my twenties with a full head of hair but an obviously receding hairline, I didn’t fret. Modern medicine was, well, modern. This baldness problem would certainly be solved in the next twenty or thirty years. Well, I’m astounded to say it wasn’t. And I’m sort of shocked they can’t fix my hearing with something akin to Lasik.
I’ve been reading recently about some improvements in hearing aids. First and foremost, the pair I shelled out over two thousand bucks for in 2016 is now about twelve hundred. Eli has a great take on this: “Those hearing aids aren’t more sophisticated than your phone, and that only cost you two hundred dollars.” He’s got a point; they’re taking me to the cleaners. My take on this. Everyone likes to scam old people. Look around, who’s wearing those hearing aids anyway?
Apparently, there are new programs that can be uploaded to my hearing aids that will give me more directional control and more noise cancelling capability. Tomorrow, I have an appointment at Costco (yes, according to Consumer Reports, Costco is the place with the best service and the best deals). I’m certain they will try to make a sale, just as I’m determined to improve the hearing aids I already have. But I’ll listen to what they say, possibly I’ll get an upgraded model.
With my expiration date still thirty years away, I’d like to fix this problem so I can enjoy my remaining days. And wouldn’t it be awesome if I could hear well enough to want to live forever?