The Roundup -

From Rubbermaid To Old Clunker


I used to be made of rubber: elastic, stretchable, and just about indestructible, or at least that is the way I felt. When I was a child and even still as a young adult, I could leap over tall buildings in a single bound, tumble down stairs, bounce like a rubber ball on the way down, and get up laughing when I hit bottom. I could ride horses all day long, try the preposterous stunts I’d watched cowboys perform on TV, fall with a crash to the ground over and over, but get up, climb back on, and try the trick all over again. I never did master any of the equestrian feats as seen on TV, of course, but at the end of the day I suffered no ill effects as a result of my antics.

Of course, all this has changed drastically through the years, to my bitter chagrin. Nowadays I can’t leap over a small pebble without fear of tripping. If I fell down the stairs now, I would likely lay unmoving in a ruinous heap until someone stumbled upon my crushed remains, and I know for a fact that if I fell off a horse even once, woe is me! It would take at least three weeks before the aches and pains let up enough to allow me to decide that I even wanted to continue living. I speak from bitter experience, here. Crashing my bike is bad enough, but the thought of falling from a horse makes cold chills run up and down my spine. Consequently, I no longer ride horses unless they really like little old ladies and treat them with dignity and respect.

The icy days we routinely seem to experience each winter clearly point out my inadequacies in the agility department. As a kid I delighted in pitting my skill against icy sidewalks and roadways. I’d slide on purpose, having great fun, and if I fell, who cared? I certainly didn’t, I just got up and kept going. Unfortunately, however, these days ice makes me cringe. I walk carefully and hope I can keep both feet safely on the ground where they belong.

I can hardly bend, flexibility has become a thing of the past, and I smile ruefully when I remember exercises I used to do with no problems that have now become quite the challenge. Backs freeze up, knees don’t respond like they used to, fingers have become stiff and arthritic, and the depressing list of bodily disfunction just keeps on lengthening.

Several Decembers ago, I broke my arm when my feet slid out from underneath me and I crashed to the ground with a resounding smash. The following spring, I again slipped on some ice in my backyard and mashed some ribs, muscles, and ligaments. It literally took weeks for the ribs to mend and for my torso to once again feel like a healthy, well-behaved normal body. I then broke an ankle December a year ago, which took several months until I was almost back to the pre-ankle breaking stage. This spring I slipped on ice downtown in Virginia City, and again, it took nearly a month until my ribs and chest felt almost normal. My husband tells me I must enjoy pain; I tell him I am just no longer as sure-footed as I was in my younger years. Truth be told, I am not as sure-footed as I was in middle age, now that I stop to think about it.

It really tells me something unpleasant when I think that I went for a little over six decades without breaking any bone in my body at all, performing some outlandish daredevil acts in the process with no adverse effects, and in the past four plus years I have broken an arm, several ribs, and an ankle while behaving with decorum and sanity. I laugh when I see what the police used to ask a person to do when they stopped a driver for a potential drunk driver charge. Heck, I can’t stand on one foot with my eyes closed when I am stone sober. If I got stopped and had to attempt the requirements the police used to ask for during the check for drunk drivers, I would be arrested and tossed in the drunk tank, and I would be perfectly sober.

So, in short, instead of my former resiliency which allowed me to smack into large immovable objects with no apparent damage, I now have turned into a relative of the Tin Man: my body squeaks and clanks as I walk, muscles ache when I chop and stack a lot of wood, I am unable to bend much in any direction, and my joints have rusted. Even simple activities like a good stretch can cause body parts to creak, complain, and pop.

The world is a dangerous place. A person faces perils every day: she could get hit on the head by a falling object, choke on a bit of brownie, get struck by a motorist, kicked by a horse, trip over the dog and break a bone, slip on a banana peel, get eaten by a bear, fall into a hole, or catch the Corona virus. The list of possible dangers we face every day goes on and on.

However, a person can’t just stay in bed all day, either. Even bed can be a dangerous place as one ages, as my sister explained to me a year or so ago. She was complaining about a sore back, so I asked her what she had done to herself. She sheepishly explained that she had had a good night’s sleep, woke up, and had a luxurious stretch to start the day. Unfortunately, when she stretched, something popped in her back.

As she ruefully remarked, “You know you’re getting old when you can injure yourself lying in bed.”


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