Coming up tomorrow is a post about an 86-year-old supermodel. At least part of the motivation for this post, I must admit, was trying to make myself, a quarter-century younger, feel better: after all, she's doing physical labor of a sort, and apparently her stamina is still up to snuff, something I'd never say of myself these days. I don't know how long a typical runway is, but my driveway is 35 feet long, and down and back is wearying these days. Then again, the "back" part of the trip is entirely uphill.

Of course, my situation is hardly unique:

Aged men require more medical support than younger ones. I already need more than I'd ever anticipated. (As a friend likes to say, if I'd known I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself. Climbed fewer Cat 5 cliffs and chased fewer Cat 10 women. But that's all past and done.) Should the cost of those medical supports continue to rise as sharply as they have these past fifty years, I might be in trouble in my seventies and beyond.

My record for climbing cliffs and chasing women is decidedly more modest, but perhaps there are things I could have done in decades past that would have ameliorated my current condition. From 2004:

"It's not a question of if you'll need that knee replaced," said the doctor. "It's a question of when."

Okay, then. When?

"By the time you're sixty," he said.

I haven't yet had either knee replaced. In part, this is due to sheer stubbornness, perhaps inherited from my father, who, told he had six months to live, hung around for six years after that. And I have taken some of the weight off those poor joints: last time I clambered onto a scale, I'd lost 84 pounds from my peak weight. But they're not going to improve, and having a pair of surgeries — they're likely not going to do both of them at once for what seem to be obvious reasons — will impact my already much-bruised financial state approximately twice as much.

In an effort to take some of the strain off these knees, I've been experimenting with different insoles. The results have been decidedly mixed: the firmer supports don't relieve much strain, and the softer ones tend to make me wobble when I walk. Neither of these conditions has much to recommend it. And walking badly has made it difficult to do things like mow the lawn, especially the front lawn, half of which is on a serious slant. Last year, in fact, I outsourced all the mowing; I hope the same chap is available this year, as he did good work at a price that was only slightly painful.

Also in decline: my ability to avoid restrooms. This has not yet been diagnosed, but the only likely causes seem to be some sort of urinary tract infection, or a prostate grown to the size of a Hyundai. (I am steering clear of advisory sites such as WebMD, inasmuch as almost every conclusion they reach seems to suggest imminent mortality.) Admittedly, I do gulp down a lot of liquids, but kidney function, which is checked regularly, has been up to snuff. For the moment, though, it's bad enough that I expect it to cause an increase in night terrors, assuming I can sleep at all with this condition.

None of this, of course, is exactly unique: almost everyone who's lived to a ripe old age, for certain values of "ripe," has had problems of similar dimension, if not necessarily at the same locations. I am not one to curse my ill fortune. (I have long since figured out that over a lifetime, most of the things that caused me grief were things that were my fault to begin with.) And I have admittedly not given much thought to what my seventies will be like, simply because it's a full-time job getting through my sixties: speculation, at this point, would be either depressing or wrong or both, and I'd just as soon not deal with either.

The Vent

  1 February 2015

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