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Old Age Ain't for Sissies!
Recently, I began longingly recalling the days when sleeping used to be an easy process.
Back when I was younger, I simply climbed into bed, positioned my body in whatever fashion I desired, and simply went to sleep all night.
Sadly, that is no longer the case.
I recently recovered, after being off about three months for shoulder surgery.
The doctor said it was bone spurs, which, if I understand him correctly, also damaged something to my biceps tendon as well. (Please do not accept any of this explanation as accurate medical information. I’m not a doctor; nor do I play one on TV. I also don’t hear so well anymore either, so I might be mistaken about the whole process entirely.)
Since I am right-handed and generally sleep on my right side, I figured this surgery on my left shoulder wouldn’t be any problem whatsoever. After all, a few years ago, I returned to work after only fifteen days, following carpal tunnel surgery on my left hand.
Apparently, I was younger then too.
(Are you starting to sense a pattern here?)
I’ve finally realized I’m getting old, which in and of itself doesn’t bother me too much. In fact, the idea of being a grumpy, old codger always kind of appealed to me.
Think about it for a moment.
Old people generally tend to say whatever is on their
minds at the time and people tend to ignore them.
“Don’t pay no attention to Pappy,” they often explain,
in these cases. “He’s just old.”
I keep telling my wife that I can’t wait for the days
when I no longer need to put a governor on my
mouth and can share all my thoughts and suggestions
Strangely enough, my wife cruelly-suggested that I don’t give quite enough forethought to the things I currently say in public. (My wife, bless her heart, she is a subject for another time.)
Getting older does put me closer to Medicare and “your so-called Social Security.” (You’ll have to please excuse me for the little dose of Merle Haggard lyrics in there.)
After the surgery, I discovered that I couldn’t find any way to sleep in the bed that didn’t hurt me. Therefore, I spent the next two months spending my nights sleeping in a reclining chair.
It was about that time, I was forced to go somewhere else for an overnight stay. Since the hotel had no recliner, I realized I would finally be forced to sleep in a bed again. All-in-all, it didn’t go too badly, so I figured my sleeping life should return to normal when I finally arrived home again.
Boy, was I wrong!
First of all, you must know that I was born severely bow-legged, which admittedly wouldn’t necessarily be a bad quality for a cowboy. (My one severely bow-legged friend once told me: “We are not bow-legged; we are streamlined for speed.” Now while it’s also true we both could run pretty, darn fast back then, you must also understand that he is an idiot as well.)
The only time my bowed legs ever touch each other now is when I sleep on my side. And since these knees are also particularly bony too, that is also a condition I can no longer tolerate as well.
My wife suggested I sleep with a small pillow between my two bony knees. After trying to explain to her all the ways this was somehow unmanly, I finally consented to take a black mark on my guy card and follow her advice. That was one problem sort of solved.
But then there is the problem of my feet and ankle bones touching one another, a condition that I no longer like either.
First, I must confess that I cannot ever sleep well with cold feet.
During the winter months, that earlier-highlighted problem of feet and ankle bones touching one another is easily solved by the heating pad that I always use at the foot of my bed. (I don’t know how I ever got by without this critically-essential item.) One foot on top of the heating pad and one below it seems to alleviate that latest problem.
However, I soon discovered another oddity when I returned to sleeping in my own bed. My right shoulder, upon which I slept peaceably for years, constantly began hurting when I sleep on it at night.
You must also know that I hate sleeping on my back and my recently-repaired left shoulder is not yet a comfortable place to support my weight at night. So, back to the right shoulder it was at night. And fortunately, that seems to be somewhat returning to normal.
I would have returned to sleeping in the chair already, but my wife loves to keep the world cold, unless, of course, I happen to be too hot. Then she is too cold.
(This situation is another one of those woman things, which countless generations of men have always failed to understand. It may even have something to do with her inner plumbing, of which I claim no knowledge whatsoever. You just try to love them anyway and cling to whatever bit of sanity you still have remaining. It may also explain why men routinely die earlier than women. Further, it may explain why men are often happy about going.)
Another changing condition I recently discovered is my need to visit the bathroom during the night. (I’m told this is also a getting old thing.) It doesn’t cause me any significant issues except getting back to sleep after my nightly pilgrimage.
After returning from the bathroom, there is still a goodly portion of the night left before me. Therefore, I often return to bed, thinking my default sleeping conditions will return to the same place they were when I first climbed into bed earlier.
That is pretty well never the case.
I always figure I should be able to return to sleeping again on my right shoulder; however, I soon discover my left shoulder is now hurting, unless I can keep my arm stretched out straight.
My left arm doesn’t feel right when I stretch it out on my left side, like it’s precariously-balanced and all of my concentration is focused on trying to keep it from falling to one side of my body or the other. That situation doesn’t lend itself to slumber at all.
The only thing that works at that point is trying to sleep on my back, which I’ve already explained I don’t like. And…did I mention the ceiling fan? (Yes, you guessed it. My wife is too hot again.)
The whirring blades of the ceiling fan keep the room as cold as a slaughterhouse and I’ve considered using the room to hang beeves, waiting to be butchered. It might also provide another source of future income to supplement my retirement.
To shield myself from the ceiling fan and the chilly, Arctic blasts my wife prepares for us, I often pull the sheet over my face. It works great while sleeping on my side. When positioned on my back, the bed sheet merely suffocates me.
If I can remain on my back, despite the frigid, Northern winds coming my way from above, my left and right arms and shoulders both feel remarkably well. Should I remain there long enough, I will eventually pass out from sheer exhaustion, only moments before the alarm clock will start blaring.
Those are my nights these days.
Nighttime has become an increasingly-frustrating
adventure in my world these days.
These conditions and many of my other aches and
pains have convinced me that the term, “Golden Years,”
was coined by some boneheaded, young fool in a New
York ad agency.
It also gives further proof to my theory that getting old
ain’t for sissies.
Perhaps I'm just getting old. But if you'll please excuse me now, I have to go chase some kids off my lawn.
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