Column: Growing old is a pain


On certain days, I really feel my age.

It hurts physically because my reflexes aren’t what they were 30, 20 or even two years ago.

And I think that translates into me being much more clumsy in recent years.

But I also can’t focus like I used to.

In the past three months, I’ve fallen, tripped, slipped or missed the bottom rung on a ladder or step stool at least a dozen times.

I’ve experienced lots of cuts and bruises and aches and pains but managed not to break any bones or to rip any ligaments.

But soon my luck will run out.

Maybe three months ago, maybe two — my memory also is not what it once was — I slipped on the ice in an alley behind my house. I remember going down, and then … nothing. Until I felt Beatrix licking my face. I assume I was knocked out for a least a couple seconds. The headaches from that fall lasted about a month.

Last weekend I was cleaning out my cats’ litter boxes. Two cats. Two boxes. No waiting.

I have an old wooden chair I sit on while I tackle that task. Well, I leaned forward to scoop some cat refuse from the back of one of the boxes, and unbeknowst to me, that chair tumbled over backward. Therefore, when I sat down, the chair was no longer there. I fell, twisted my leg in a way I didn’t think I could do anymore, threw that cat-refuse scooper into the air, kicked over one of the cat boxes, jammed a wrist and let out a few expletives that scared the bejesus out of Beatrix (my pitbull) and Jack and Jill (my two cats).

After about 45 seconds I tried to move my leg, wondering how I was going to drag myself to wherever I had left my cell phone. To my amazement, my leg and the rest of my body still worked.

I call that dodging a bullet.

I used to dodge a lot of bullets. I was kind of a dare devil growing up.

When I was about 12 years old. I would jump off things … for fun, including the family room roof of our Summit Street home. I did that more often that I should have. It was just one story off the ground, so perhaps 10 or 12 feet. And I never even twisted an ankle.

Riding my bike one time, I popped a wheelie …. and my front tire came off. When that part of the bike returned to earth, I went flying over the handlebars, right onto my back. It was a spectacular, athletic move. I got up, pulled a few pebbles out of my legs and then walked home with my tire in one hand, steering the rest of the bike with the other. If that happened today, I’m I’d be in the hospital in traction for a week.

Growing up in the 1960s, they didn’t have fancy high jump or pole vault pits at Heise Park Stadium. They had foam rubber. A lot of smelly, moldy, disgusting foam rubber. There were hundreds of pounds of the stuff tied together and dragged into place. They smelled of sweat and rain and the refuse left behind by whatever type of animal was living among the foam rubber.

But man was that stuff fun to jump on.

There was a football scoreboard nearby. It took some doing, but we climbed atop that scoreboard and jumped from 10 to 12 feet into those piles of foam rubber. We performed front flips, back flips and twists. We never got hurt, although we smelled of sweat and mildew and mold and animal refuse by the time we went home.

Which leads me to Monday.

It was about 3 a.m. Beatrix, my 3-year-old rescued companion, was fussing about having to go outside. She’s pretty typical of other woman in my life. When she wants something she is very, very affectionate, but not often in the middle of the night. So, on Monday, she crawls next to me like she wants a big hug. But this time, she was hugging and running — toward the back door. So I got up, put on some sweats, attached the leash and off we went … to the back door, and my back porch toward the back door.

Unfortunately, Beatrix spotted the squirrel as I was only halfway out the door. She took off after that critter, dragging me behind her. She didn’t catch him. But I got caught … by the storm door, which sliced my hand. She pulled me out that door and off the porch, where I promptly tripped over one of the limbs she likes to play fetch with. I ended up on my hands and knees in some old mulch. Well, one hand and knees, as the other hand was still stupidly attacked to the leash, which was halfway around the big tree that squirrel ran up.

Now my back porch is just one step from earth — maybe 8 inches high — not 10 feet or 12 feet.

Still, I’m more sore today than I have was jumping off that roof. Again, there are no broken bones or torn ligaments, and just hours after my fall, no bruises. Just a slice on the bottom of my left hand, that I covered with four or five bandages and an old sweat sock. By 6 a.m. the bleeding had stopped.

I was sore, but headed off to work. But I did a lot of groaning. You know that grown. It’s the sound your grandpa used to make when he got out of his favorite recliner or rocking chair. Now I make it.

As I right this, it’s almost noon … on Monday. I’ve downed four 625 milligram arthritis strength Tylenol since 6 a.m. and I’m feeling better.

But I know I’m going to have to stand up again sooner or later.

Anyway, my aches and pains were not what I intended to write about.

I was going to write about aging is doing to my emotions.

I teared up Saturday night at the end of “Guardians of the Galaxy.” I did it again Sunday night during the kids version of “Guy’s Grocery Games.” I can’t get through an episode of ‘My 600-pound Life” or “Hoarders” anymore without a box of Kleenex nearby. And I refuse to watch any more episodes of “Intervention.”

That’s what I was going to write about. But as I wrote earlier, it takes little to make me lose my focus anymore.

I’ll write about my age-induced emotions in another column … if I remember.

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Russ Kent is editor of the Galion Inquirer. Email him at rkent@aimmediamidwest.com