Proof of Age

Not my kitchen

I couldn’t relax, or lie flat, or breathe. Susan googled heart attacks. We thought she should check, maybe, just in case.

We carried the microwave—the new one—into the kitchen. It mounts under the cabinets, above the stove, doubles as an oven hood. It’s not too heavy, maybe fifty pounds, awkward, but manageable for two people. Reaching out to slide it into the empty space, the cavity between two cabinets, and settle it onto the bracket I already screwed to the wall, I froze. The expression on my face told Susan to panic. Nothing popped, nothing snapped, a wave of agony washed over me. I stood still holding the microwave, paralyzed by pain.

Earlier in the day, bent, uncomfortable, trying to measure and mark where the holes get drilled, my body torqued so my bifocals could focus on the ruler, my chest muscles began to nag at me.

In 1995, riding my bike to work, I collided with a van. My spleen split open and blood flooded my chest cavity. My lung collapsed. In the emergency room, doctors with scalpels poked holes between my ribs to drain the blood. I almost drowned. Twenty-five years is a long time. Bodies adapt, make do. My rebuilt shoulder rarely troubles me. I stopped getting inflammation in my lung a decade ago. I know what to expect from my brain injury. But those scars between my ribs, man, those are a pain in the ass.

What’s wrong? Are you OK?

I pulled a chest muscle.

You’re still holding the microwave.

I can’t move.

We slid the microwave onto the new countertop—freshly installed, afforded by our home refinance—I worried about scratches. Last week, the guy who painted our cabinets used the counters as his work tables. Micro-scratches cover the surface. They say we can buff them out with a Scotch pad, but we haven’t tried.

Unsure what to do, I crawled onto my back on the carpeted floor in the next room. Susan propped pillows around my sides and under my arms, trying to counteract gravitational pull, trying to help me release my seized muscle. A few minutes later we eliminated a heart attack as a possible scenario.

The microwave install remains incomplete. Eli plans to finish it with two friends after school, before they head to the gym. Mark, the strongest one, claims he can do it by himself. I cancelled my afternoon run. Legs up on an ottoman, back erect, propped on the couch. Susan fetches what I need.

Today is a sorry new episode in my realization that as I age, I can’t do what I once did. Like I needed more proof.

Photo by Jonathan Cooper on Unsplash

25 thoughts on “Proof of Age

  1. I think it was 6 years ago that Bob had to have an emergency gall bladder removal. They did it very quickly in the ER but did not realize at the time Bob had strep throat. So, when they pushed the tube down his throat for the standard procedure gall bladder removal they pushed the strep infection directly into his lungs. A week later his lung collapsed and he ended up in the ICU. They had to do that lung surgery where they go into his lung to vacuum it out and they put the tubes through his rib cage into his lung to drain it (which is what I think you are saying you had too) three times – surgery and drainage. It was a whole month fiasco of surgery and apologies. They just couldn’t get it cleared. Thankfully, he is fine now. But he still continues to complain of pain in the rib cage area when it moves or is touched a certain way. I’m sorry you are feeling pain right now and happy you were able to rule out a heart issue. I hope the pain clears and you are feeling 100% soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I tweak those rib muscles a couple of times every year (they are called intercostals). Of all the things from that bike accident, they are the one thing that never seems to improve. That’s pretty bad luck with strep. I guess I never really thought that you could infect yourself worse with your own infection.


  2. OH wow, good luck and relax, yes age is something that has leaped at us, maybe it is all that time we spent blaming all the problems on the old timers, now we are the old timers, running is harder, biking is harder and yesterday I thought I may need help getting out of the slump I had created for myself on the couch. Damn the deterioration process.

    Liked by 1 person

    • They got it up, it looks great. The best part (from their perspective) is they got to take the old microwave to the middle of the back yard and nuke all those things they tell you to never put in a microwave. The aging thing is so frustrating. Waiting around for the kids to get out of school isn’t the way I like to get things done. For this instance, I’ll chalk it up to bad luck.


  3. Intercostals… I call it a “boob cramp” when I stretch wrong, move wrong, breathe wrong🙄, and one siezes up. Dang! they hurt!!

    You know the drill… rest, heat, ice, ibuprofen if necessary, blah blah blah…

    Hope it doesn’t ruin the *whole* weekend🤞

    Liked by 1 person

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