Getting Old

A cartoon of an old man sitting in the grass

🔶 Each night before going to bed, around midnight, I shake a tiny cholesterol pill from its container into the palm of my hand.  I observe the number of pills remaining in the bottle and realize that each one represents a day of my life.  Ninety days later, I get a fresh bottle in the mail and the process starts again.  This has been happening for the past three years.  My goal was to go as long as possible without prescription medication, but my family doctor convinced me that although my cholesterol was under 200, I had some blockage in my carotid arteries that I needed to control.  I have tried to change my diet, but that didn’t work out very well, so now I’m doing what I hoped desperately not to do (take medication).

🔶 I have known for some time that things would change for me health wise as I approached my 80s.  Sometimes I think I’m walking around waiting for the next shoe to drop.  Almost everyone I know who is my age has a medical problem of some sort, and there is no reasonable explanation for me escaping scot free.  My Fitbit tells me I have walked 2.7 million steps (1,350 miles) this year; maybe that has something to do with it. 

🔶 I have always believed that keeping my body in motion would be my key to good health, and I have done that all of my adult life.  It was fairly easy as a young man to make that happen, but as I became older, I had to set daily goals.  I started jogging in my mid-50s, which lasted about 15 years before my left knee started giving me problems and reduced me to walking.  I bought a pedometer and set a goal of 10,000 steps (5 miles) each day, except Sundays.

🔶 I have mostly been successful in meeting those goals, and I have also encouraged family members to join me in that effort.  I have a Fitbit group composed of my three granddaughters, three grandsons, and a daughter-in-law.  I sponsor a monthly Challenge Week and they all take part in it.  Last month (November 2020), the Challenge Week goal was to walk 12,000 steps each day (Mon-Fri) and 25,000 on Saturday & Sunday, for a total of 110,000 steps (55miles) for the week.  Each person who achieved those goals received $125 and the person with the most steps received an additional $50.  I paid out $700.  My daughter-in-law had the most (133,000 steps, 67 miles) and I finished 3rd with 118,000 steps (59 miles).  During our September Challenge Week, I walked 157,000 steps (79 miles) and my daughter-in-law walked 175,000 steps (88 miles). 

🔶 I cannot help but believe that my efforts to stay healthy have served me well so far, but I am not convinced that the “scot free†thing I mentioned earlier will prevail indefinitely.  As I prepare for my 80th birthday soon, when I will no longer be a septuagenarian, but an octogenarian, I am hopeful that my life continues to be of value to me and to others.  My mother used to ask me, “Tommy Joe, if you didn’t know how old you were, how old do you think you would be?† Well, Mom, I don’t really know.  I know that I’m old, I just can’t put a number on it.  I suspect that the sight of your beautiful face is not too far away.  I believe as Albert Einstein said, “Life is like riding a bicycle—in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.”  My sentiments also.