Fighting Aging One Irritant at a Time

By Ann Ipock

I’m fighting this aging thing pretty hard – oh, I know that sounds shallow, petty and ungrateful. It’s not that, I promise. Okay, maybe it’s a little shallow, but the truth is I want to feel good AND look good. I don’t see any reason why I can’t have both.

Yep, I’ve been through the menopausal, hot-flash curse, and boy, am I glad that’s behind me. Phew! As I sit here writing, I’m wearing black yoga pants and a long-sleeved tee shirt, and it’s 65 outside. I couldn’t have done that five years ago, so that’s one irritant that’s vanished. At the same time, I dread the days when it will hit 82 degrees, and I’ll be shivering in a heavy coat and wool socks, while my grown children are wearing shorts and tank tops.

One plus: my vision is holding out pretty good. I couldn’t believe my ears (or eyes) when the optometrist declared I was one of those lucky people whose vision had stabilized, giving me a visual advantage. My near-sightedness shifted to slight far-sightedness and evidently my astigmatism improved on its own. Feeling elated, I questioned the woman at the highway patrol office on my license renewal. I begged her to lift the restriction, i.e., corrective lenses. She sniffed and snorted, doubting me, I could just tell. She whipped out an eye chart and drilled me. I read to line three, then stumbled, and I swear I saw an “I told you so” smirk coming from her.

Because I love wearing sleeveless tops in the summer, I’m working my biceps and triceps (along with gluts, abs and rhomboids) like crazy, three times a week at the gym. I walk when I can – though it’s often to the pantry for some salted nuts or dark chocolate. But even that’s good for you in moderation, right?

Sleep? Well, coming from someone who has always been a night owl, I’m seeing a pattern shift. I’m sleeping less, but possibly enjoying it more. I know from studying dental hygiene way back when, that as we age we require less sleep. But I ask you this: If I sleep less, do I have to work more? If so, I’m going back to bed.

Like Nora Ephron, I also hate my neck. The dermatologist told me that’s the first thing to go. Go where, you might ask? It’s that saggy, baggy, turkey gobbler that gets to me. But wait! That’s not half as bad as the Howdy Doody jaw staring back at me in the mirror. My sister, Nancy, and I constantly compare ours. If you don’t know who Howdy Doody is, then Google it. Maybe you’re too young for ANY of this column to make sense, but just ask your mother, grandmother or great-grandmother. She’ll know.

But, by far, my worst angst comes from my aches and pains. I’m talking elbows and knees, but lately, more upper back than anything. Though not daily, it’s worse when I’m hunched over the computer long hours. And lately, I’ve done that. Between column deadlines, web site updates, a temp medical transcribing job and, oh yes, Facebook! Oy! I swore I’d never get into that crazy social media. Helllllooooo? Here I am, a fan! It’s already like a full time job perusing my news feed daily, clicking “like” and/or making comments with my nearly 600 friends. How do those with 1200 friends – our daughter, Katie, for example – keep up? (Does this make Katie twice as popular as me?)

I recently visited my parents and was mentioning my achy-breaky-back to them. Dad seemed more concerned than usual. “Where is it?” he wanted to know. I asked him what he meant. “Exactly where is the pain?” Oh, this is scary, I thought. I’m the one that usually gives them medical, dental, psychological and social advice. Kidding! But I do suggest Tylenol for headaches and Melatonin for sleeplessness.

But no, Dad walked right up to me, holding a bottle in his hand, praising his newfound miracle drug. Y’all, it was horse liniment! I began to “neeeeeiiiigggh,” shaking my mane and clomping my horse hooves, but Dad explained that a good friend and nurse recommended he try some. “Smell it!” he said, removing the lid. It had a minty, medicinal scent. I was skeptical at first, but today I drove to my pharmacy and asked the clerk if they sell it. She turned to the pharmacist and said quite loudly, “Do we sell horse’s cinnamon?” By now, everyone was staring at me. My face turned ten shades of red. I felt light-headed, confused. Then the pharmacist mouthed something inaudible. But I just stuttered, “Th-th-thanks anyway,” and headed out the door, positive that my hearing was gone. After all, I’m getting older by the minute.

About this writer

  • Ann Ipock Ann Ipock, the first Sasee hat recipient, is the author of the “Life is Short” humor trilogy. She currently writes for four publications and lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, with her husband, Russell.

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