Sunday, June 11, 2017

Our New Adolescence

An adolescence is a sudden burst of growth, after which we find that we are different enough from our former selves to require a period of adjustment. When doctors or police refer to “adolescents,” they mean teenagers, but that’s not the only adolescence. We all go through a few that are well observed by medical professionals and a couple more on our own personal schedules. They can be difficult.

Changes overtake us as we get older, and the entire thing can be confusing. There’s a dynamic at work that will be familiar to anyone who has raised children. You spend a year or two getting the hang of handling a baby. Then the baby is gone, and you must learn to take care of a toddler. After that, you need to discover the comforts and dangers of being responsible for a four or five year old. The point being that none of this prepares you for the pleasures and dangers of having a six or seven year old on your hands. At each stage, you must master a new skill-set, and when that stage is complete you are thrown back into ignorance by circumstances. Our own lives come in a very similar pattern.

In my case, right now, I wonder what exactly is causing that new pain in my left shoulder. Is it a late onset of rheumatoid arthritis? That would be terrible. Is my new mattress too hard? Is it a reappearance of an injury-based discomfort that was caused when I was about thirty-years-old at a job that required repeated impact shocks to my shoulders? That pair of injuries was never diagnosed, even though my shoulders hurt more or less for over ten years. Is it part of what the doctors characterize as the normal degenerative changes of osteoarthritis? What is the whole range of things that it could be?

I’ve been putting off seeking a medical opinion on the matter, but I suppose that I should go to see an orthopedist. It has been a year now, and it’s getting more annoying. There’s no sense in waiting, really. X-rays and exams are cheap where I live. And what’s the harm of asking? It might even be something that shows up clearly in x-rays and could be dealt with in a straightforward manner, perhaps arthroscopically. Who knows?

That’s the real point, isn’t it? “Who knows?” Certainly I don’t know. But I know that sleeping exclusively on my right side is not going to work out in the long run, and waiting around for miracles is never a good plan of action. So that’s it, then, go to the hospital and see an orthopedist.

Having learned the intricacies of many of life’s phases already, I must now master a new set of variables. I, along with many of my fellow Baby Boomers, am in a new adolescence. My current stage of life could be called, “officially old but not yet decrepit.” I have resolved to keep my happy-face on. After all, it’s only pain, time, confusion, embarrassment and money. Life has worse things than those to throw at us. And that’s the real point: if the worst isn’t happening yet, don’t start to complain! It could be much worse, and it probably will be much worse before long. I must enjoy myself while I still can, or be condemned as an ungrateful wretch.

That was fun! Writing things out really does enhance understanding. 

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