Press-Republican

March 24, 2013

Getting old stinks

By STEVE OUELLETTE, You Had To Ask
Press-Republican

---- — I write this through gritted teeth with long-expired painkillers — leftovers from a 2009 operation? — coursing through my veins.

I wish that I had a good excuse. I wish that I could say “I had a burst of adrenaline and lifted a Buick off a woman, her three young children and their pet duck, when I felt a sudden sharp pain in my lower back.” Or “I was going in for a windmill dunk, but LeBron James took my legs out and I landed on my spine.”

Sadly, the true story is that I twisted awkwardly when trying to grab a big bin full of newspapers that I was planning to bring to the curb for recycling. Stupid environmentalists causing me pain once again.

I felt a sudden and excruciating pain in my lower back and my right leg collapsed beneath me. For at least 15 seconds my anguish exactly matched what I imagine women go through in childbirth. Does childbirth take longer than that? Because there’s no way the benefits of children would be worth that kind of pain.

Eventually, I lifted myself up — with a kid’s ski pole as a makeshift crutch — hobbled to the medicine cabinet, found a heating pad and sat down in front of the computer. Actually, make that stood up in front of the computer, holding my back perfectly straight; sitting seems to hurt.

I tried dictating to the cat, but she refuses to help. Cats. I could really use one of those helper monkeys, but I know from past experience that the health-insurance company won’t cover it. Stupid Obamacare.

Is this a warning sign of things to come? Was it a warning sign when I twisted my neck a couple of months ago reaching for a box of high-fiber cereal and spent two days with my head cocked at an awkward angle, as if I was perpetually interested in everything everyone had to say?

Is this what it feels like to be old? But, but, I’m too young to be old.

What hair is left only has a touch of gray. The AARP invitation has not yet come in the mail.

I can still recognize up to 70 percent of all pop cultural references. The early bird special is still too early for me to eat.

I should probably apologize to my father at this point, for all the times I said “Hey, old man, nice limp” or “Hey, old man, nice hair” or just “Hey, old man.” Sorry, old man.

I should also probably see a doctor, but it hurts to climb in and out of the car, and I’m pretty sure the doctor won’t make what we old folks refer to as a house call. Besides, body parts are all there. No spurting blood. No doctor necessary. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. I can walk it off.

Anyway, according to the Internet, let’s see … lower back pain could be a symptom of … sciatica, steroid use, cancer, appendicitis, pregnancy, kidney disease, herniated disc, scurvy or lower back pain. Possibly a combination of those. Never look up your symptoms on the Internet.

I can walk this off, as soon as I can walk. What does this mean for my future, though? Do I need to get one of those “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” buttons? Will I have to play it safe and give up certain high-risk activities like picking up a newspaper, eating breakfast cereal or turning my head 90 degrees? Will I have to, you know, exercise?

Getting old stinks. There’s got to be a way to write off that helper monkey on my taxes ...

Email Steve Ouellette: ouellette1918@gmail.com