It’s been quite a few days since I updated this manual. Hope that hasn’t made the adjustment more difficult for anyone who turned 65 recently. Not that anything I have to report is worth that much anyway. But I have learned a few things since that fateful day in October.
One of the biggest is how things change physically, or at least how people look at you changes. I hummed along for years thinking the only health issue I needed to attend to was border-line high blood pressure. That was the only thing I ever took medication for. Then I turned 65 and hooked up with a new family physician. The first thing he did was dump the blood pressure medication. That was OK. But then he took a closer look at my blood sugar readings from my previous doc and informed me I’m borderline diabetic. That was not encouraging. Not borderline enough to do anything about it, just borderline enough to make me worry.
The doc pushed quite hard for me to have another colonoscopy, since I’m 65. I offered to do the poop-scoop thing that I’ve done before to avoid someone shoving an instrument up my bottom, and that was negative, so I don’t have to worry about that for now. But the post-65 scrutiny continued. The physician’s assistant working with the doc focused on my abdominal aorta, a part of my person I had never thought about before. I guess as one ages, especially if you’ve been a smoker, the walls of the aorta can thin and develop an aneurysm. Great. So, I have now had the experience of an ultrasound probing my innards. Again, good news, my abdominal aorta is normal. Then I visited the dentist. Upshot, bone loss around my teeth, which could lead to loose teeth and (heaven forefend) dentures. To postpone such an eventuality, the dentist recommends some slicing and scraping by a periodontist. I guess I don’t have much choice. I’m not ready to start gumming my food. Oh, and I had my annual eye exam, thinking that should be uneventful. Wrong. The eye doctor had some trouble getting a lens prescription of 20/20 for my left eye. Why? Because the cataracts that were infinitesimally small during my last, pre-65, exam have developed enough to obscure my vision a bit. Not nearly enough to require surgery, just enough to give me something else to worry about. The bottom line is: Beware turning 65. The medical professionals will have a field day examining all the parts of you that apparently wear out on the same schedule as your working life…you get close to retirement, even contemplate the possibility, and they expect you to fall apart. Sheesh!
Just a note about professional changes post-65. In a youth-dominated culture, if you’ve still got a job you enjoy as you approach the dreaded 65, keep it until they drive you out. Finding even part time work related to what you studied and trained to do and have been doing is tough. In my case, after relinquishing a full-time teaching job on principle (the administrators at my school were deceitful and incompetent, a deadly combination), my back-up plan of teaching adjunct has gone nowhere. And the city I live in has very few openings that relate to my field or any field, unless you want to clean motel rooms (I did a stretch as a janitor/maintenance man years ago, so I’m not above it) there’s not a lot out there, unless you’re willing to lift at least 70 pounds repeatedly or have training in boatbuilding or chimney sweeping. I mentioned in the first entry of this manual that I’d like to stay active, stay involved, and continue to use the experience and education I acquired in some useful way. I’m still looking for a chance to do that. Being 65 makes it harder to do.