Hot Topics for the Middle-Aged

I knew it! I should've just stayed on the couch. Image:

April 5

Dear Carlene,

How is the weather up there? I imagine it’s still cold and snowy. The cherry blossoms are beginning to bloom here in Arlington, it’s so beautiful. After church today, we will go for a long walk along the Potomac and enjoy their incredible fragrance. Don’t forget that we are driving up to visit you in Maine the last week of April, so be sure to have the lobsters ready. Miss you and love you very much. Give the kids a big hug for me.

P.S. I have a horrible pain in my kidney, my sciatic nerve is making my behind feel like it’s on fire and your father’s gout is acting up again.

Love, Mom

This was an actual letter from my dear sweet Gram to my mother (“actual” in the sense that I made it up; but trust me, she sent similar letters). Notice how she starts out with a tried-and-true bang (the weather) draws the reader in with the promise of serene sweetness and bliss (cherry blossoms and lobsters) then ends abruptly with the doom and gloom of growing older (ass on fire).

When I was a kid, my Gram once sent me a birthday card with a 20 dollar bill tucked inside. But that was not all. She added a lovely message as well. No, not “Have a Happy Birthday!” but “By the way, I’m taking your grandfather to his colonoscopy next week, hopefully they’ll get all the polyps this time, so wish him luck!” When you’re the tender age of 12, hearing about your Grampy’s colonoscopy is about as cool as…well, having your own colonoscopy.

Why do we constantly feel the urge to reveal the gory details about our various physical ailments the older we become? And why is it that I am just as guilty?

I turned forty last year. Along with my disgust at realizing all those fashion mag articles promising “Beauty Tips for All Ages!” have callously slid me into the upper age bracket entitled: Women of Advanced Age–Give It Up Already, I’ve come to realize something very unnerving about my other “advanced age” friends; our conversations have taken a dark turn. The younger carefree days of discussing the latest celebrity breakup or our bad hangovers have morphed into casually chit chatting about our various soul-crushing ailments and upcoming medical procedures.

This is the phone conversation I had last week with one of my forty-something friends:

Me: Hey, what’s up, girlfriend?

Her: Oh, nothing.

Me: Yeah, nothing here too.

Her: Yeah.

Me: So…

(Long pause)

Her: Oh! I’m having chest pains today. So there’s that.

Me: Me too! What is up with that? Damn!

Her: Yeah, it’s probably due to stress.

Me: Yeah, stress. (snickers) What a bitch.

Her: Yeah.

(Long pause)

Her: My hair is falling out.

Me: Me too!

Her: And oh god, the hot flashes! I sleep with my head in the freezer most nights.

Me: Me too!

And then we proceed to discuss every single thing that is going wrong with every single part of our bodies. Sometimes mine are worse, sometimes hers are worse. Most times we tie.

Once upon a time, I would get excited about going to events like a rock concert or a monster truck show. Several times this past year, I have seen status updates on Facebook discussing mammograms. One morning, one of my friends posted that she was heading in for her first one. About a dozen friends commented with things like, “Been there done that!” “Bring some Advil or you’ll be sorry!” Then I chime in and say something sexy like, “Oh yeah! Have fun! Good times my friend, good extremely-uncomfortable-boob-pancake times.” And then a group of us giggle over our coffee and post more comments revealing things about our boobs our husbands don’t even want to know for all of Facebook to read. Have we no shame? No, we don’t. After all, we are perimenopausal women and we will be loud and proud and we will be revealing too many personal things about our boobs because we’ve earned it goddammit.

Or maybe it’s because we’re jaded. Maybe there just isn’t anything else to discuss anymore. Celebrities? Once you get to my age, you realize most Hollywood couples will marry, have affairs, break up and sell their story to The Insider, usually all within one week. Politics? Too much nagging and nothing ever gets done; I deal with that type of situation enough at home. Sex? Just typing that word out makes me chuckle. But general aches and pains? Medical procedures and surgeries? Bingo. We are all over that hot topic.

Joint pain? Why, yes! My ankle is killing me, thanks for asking. I seem to have developed a severely inflamed tendon when I stupidly tried to walk across the living room floor. And my left shoulder is aching constantly, my knee is locking up and my thumb is doing this weird clicking thing. And did I mention my ankle tendon is inflamed?

Kidney stones? Oh yeah, my husband was diagnosed with those right after he had laid down in a fetal position on the ER floor and passed out. After drinking three truckloads of water he managed to survive long enough to have them blasted into tiny fragments, painfully urinate them into a tiny strainer for weeks afterward and name them after the seven dwarfs (Stubby, Prickly, Slash, Rip Torn, Larry, Moe and Curly).

Migraines? Too many to count. I’m having one right now. Bad back? My heating pad’s cord doesn’t reach my desk chair or I’d be planting my sorry butt on one right now. Poor eyesight? Blurry enough to purchase an ugly brown pair of reading glasses and I’m cursing and squinting through them at the computer screen right now. Arthritic fingers? Once again, I’m expreinesing it rght nw.

You name a minor ailment and my husband and/or I have been there done that or know a friend who has and we will tell you about it in every single miserable TMI detail.

I am only forty so I can see where this one day might lead me to mailing my little nephew a card that reads: “Happy birthday! Hope you’re doing well in school. I have shingles!” (Note to my 5 year old nephew: if you’re reading this, apparently you are doing very well in school. Also, Auntie is very sorry. I’ll send you 20 bucks next time. And oh yeah, I still have shingles.)

No worries. As my 77 year old mother points out daily, “You think you have it bad now? Just you wait until you’re my age! Then you’ll spend your time checking the obits for your friends!”

Well, at least I have that to look forward to. Thanks for keeping it real, Mom.

35 thoughts on “Hot Topics for the Middle-Aged

  1. Mary the OINKteller

    Chuckle, chuckle. This reminds me of an email joke my mother just forwarded to me called “Lunch with the Girls Through the Ages.” As I age, I too have noticed more aches and pains than usual. Advil has become my friend. Even more than alcohol (and we’ve been besties for a while, now.) Here’s to boob pancakes!

    1. Other than general aches and pains, alcohol IS the main reason I keep a giant bottle of Advil. And yes, “Here’s to boob pancakes!” That could be the title of my upcoming book! (that will never get published and no one will ever read)

  2. Thank goodness I’ve discovered energy work- LOL! But seriously, thanks for the chuckle, yet once again.

    Was sitting, chatting with a GF yesterday, stood up, and whammo! my back tweaked. Ouch! Fortunately, it’s very well today (after the initial creaking out of bed, gently testing the waters of what pain will be talking today, and where; letting the feet stretch with every foot step to the bathroom, hoping the plantar fasciitis is quiet today).

    1. As much as I love Reiki, I forgot that I actually have to practice it if it’s going to work. I’ve gone over a month now without it and really need to get back into it again (am my post here cleary illustrates)As much as I complain (and I do, a lot) I truly feel pretty healthy lately and am thankful for that (just could live without the swollen tendons)

      1. Just gave free Reiki again on Sat. Connected with a girl about 20. It was more than cool. She said that she could feel the love coming into her heart that I was sending her (I imagined red and pink roses of love going into her heart, and showers of pink and red rose petals of love.)

  3. Darla, I love you! OMG you are hilarious! You should really write a book! 😀

    I should call you and let you know about this Silva Method of intuition and meditation I leaned all about last week. It blends almost seamlessly with Reiki etc. It was amazing and I loved every single second of it! (Our posting schedule got messed up last week so I’ll be writing/posting about it more on Wednesday and Thursday). It focused a lot on pain control and I know I’ve had 3 migraines that I have been able to get rid of (for the first time ever) without my prescription Axert.

    I have an unlimited LD plan now to the US and Canada so let me know when you have time to chit chat and catch up! 😀



    1. Laila, I can’t wait to hear about your retreat! What’s funny is Jim actually had this Silva app on our iTouch for months now (they have an app for everything don’t they?) Looks like I have to do some research on it. (And read you upcoming blog about it) Sounds like you really had an incredible time. I will try and skype you in the upcoming week or so if you have the time. :)I am so happy you enjoyed your time away, you really deserved some peace.

  4. I knew this was going to be one of your very best as soon as I read: “actual” in the sense that I made it up. Then: …when I stupidly tried to walk across the living room floor. And: Happy birthday! Hope you’re doing well in school. I have shingles!

    If you’re really working on a book, I’d like to place my order now.

    1. I don’t know…shingles, asses on fire and boob pancakes don’t speak to a such wide audience (or do they? and if they do, man are we in trouble) And Charles, you need to seriously publish a book with all of your blog entries. I’ll be the first one at your book signing (as long as it isn’t anywhere near that Jersey toll and by the way, have you taken over the world yet? I’m waiting for Maine to subdivide)

  5. Hi,
    Loved the post, had to laugh I also have had conversations with friends that eventually lead to the “aches and pains” and the hot flashes. 😆

    1. See, I am way ahead of you in the complaining dept. because the ENTIRE conversation revolves around aches and pains now. There is no other chitchat. Especially between me and my husband. At the end of the day we give each other a quick run-down of what hurts but I usually win every time (or he just gives up and starts crying)

  6. Okay – now who is in who’s head?! I have an Aunt who writes Christmas letters filled with broken bones, diabetes, bad backs, etc. A Christmas Letter!!! Oh goodness. I loved this post. Loved it. ~ Lenore

    1. Lenore, my great aunt used to send us those “family newsletters” every Christmas. She’d photocopy them and send them to everyone. She would start out positive, then end with the gloom and doom. Because nothing says Merry Christmas like news of impending divorces, deaths and surgeries.

  7. Priya

    When does middle-age begin? Does 35 count? My husband and I must gear up and join the fun. We’re already geared up, actually. (The future looks quite hot-topicked!)

    1. Priya, lucky for you, 35 does not count. I’m not sure even 39 years 11 months counts. In my case, the nanosecond I turned 40 things went downhill fast. 😉 But I choose to laugh at it so that helps (and drinking wine on occasion)

  8. Very funny post! I don’t know why the majority of people want to dwell on their infirmities. Misery loves company, I guess. Some people want to tell you about all their medications, each and every pill and what each is for and how much it all costs! I took a page from my father’s book of life, thankfully. He didn’t talk about what ailed him. He just dealt with it in private. He was a pleasure to be around because he talked about life, not growing old. I think people talk about aging because they are afraid of it, and sharing their experiences with others makes it easier to cope. It also makes it easier to lighten up a serious subject, which is what you did. Kudos!

  9. I’m still in my early thirties, but the conversation among friends has already shifted to about 25% health topics: aches, pains, allergies, diets. Where will we be when we’re forty?

    1. It won’t be pretty, Paul. And once you hit your forties, all of those annual exams and procedures start cropping up and you’ll find yourself discussing them with total strangers at Walmart. (not that I do that…yet)

  10. Margie

    It is good that you are writing down your maladies. When you are 60, and you have other medical issues, you won’t think your life at 40 was so perfect and painless.
    You might, in fact, discover that you feel better at age 60 than at age 40!

    1. I could see that. In all seriousness, I do feel better now than I did 10 years ago. I get more sleep now, I exercise and practice yoga and meditation, I eat better. And I try not to sweat the small stuff (and big stuff too)

  11. Cocktails of History and Prose

    Went to the plastic surgeon today, $8200 to fix what pregnancy has done (multiple procedure discount included.) Okay. Changed my blog title. Okay. Thinking about changing the spelling of my name. Not okay according to my hubs. Mid-life crisis at 35? Possibly.

    1. I try to have at least one mid-life crisis every five years or so. Good for you! Now that is what I need. All of it… the multiple plastic surgery discount and blog name change. I love your new name. 🙂 I regret choosing “She’s a Maineiac”. I did it without thinking…didn’t realize I would even write more than one post or that anyone would ever read it. Ha!

  12. Oh my goodness, I am still laughing! “Happy Birthday. Hope you’re doing well in school. I have shingles!” What a birthday card greeting. Why didn’t Hallmark think of that one?!?! Aging is a strange thing. One positive thing, I feel myself become bolder by the year. Well, at least I think that’s a positive thing 😉 Missed reading your blog so much lately. But I’m back…I think! And love the new template 🙂

Tell me about it.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s