Now I’m 56. Wait. What?

It seems like yesterday when I posted about turning 55 in Happy Birthday Blog: All the Great Things About Turning 55

Alas (doesn’t anyone actually use that word nowadays?), I have turned 56. I closed my eyes and a year sped by; I woke up and I was no longer 55. I am now officially closer to age 60 than age 50.

Left: The good ‘ole days when I was 55.

Slowly I disintegrate. The final years of middle age are upon me; old age is on-deck. I imagine a batter in a Yankees uniform (why Yankees?), wearing a saggy pinstripe uniform. Popping out of the top of the uniform is an old gray haired head. It takes ten minutes to make it to the plate, but “old” arrived in an instant.

I have cataracts in both eyes. The cataract in the right eye is becoming a serious issue. When I hold the palm of my hand over my left eye, my right eye sees a slight yellow haze and a world with fuzzy edges. I will probably have the cataract(s) removed in 2019, because it hinders my ability to read, especially printed books, and eventually, the cataracts will make it dangerous for me to drive a car. In 2010, I earned an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the Solstice MFA program at Pine Manor College, which required an abundance of reading – books, handouts, student drafts for workshop. To put the cataract issue in perspective: I would not be able to get through that program today because of the issues with my eyesight.  Usually, the condition is reserved for those over 70, but my mother had cataracts in her fifties.

Yay Mom! Yay 56!

My gums are receding.  Ice cold water or ice cream can set off nerve-ending pain that sears and shrills through my gums and face as if someone were beating me in the mouth with an ice pick. I have to stop what I’m doing and yell, “Owwwwww!” even if silently to myself.  The gums near the lower left molars are in the worst shape, although I have milder issues in other areas.  I have no doubt a root canal or gum graft (I don’t know the difference ) is in my future.  Right now, my dentist will fill the gaps between the exposed stem of the teeth with a tooth-tinted composite. This is what I’m doing Tuesday evening. Don’t be jealous. My mother had horrible gum disease in the last years of her life, and while I don’t (yet), I can see the potential.

woman in grey notched lapel suit jacket holding smartphone sitting beside wooden table
Do you think SHE has receding gums?

I weigh more than I ever have. This is due to eating more than I ever have. This is also due to aging, as one’s metabolism slows. I read in AARP’s newsletter (yes, AARP) that I can expect to weigh the most I ever have in my fifties.  So I guess I’m doing something right, right? I weight 40 pounds more than I did in my twenties, and 20 pounds more than I did in my forties. Most people don’t see too much of a difference, because I hide the extra bulges with blousey tops and less than skin-tight jeans. My stomach hangs out over tight pants where it used to be flat and muscular.  My body is starting to resemble my mothers: relatively slim legs and arms and a beachball stomach.

Yay Mom! Yay 56!

The membrane in my left nostril has deteriorated. Last summer, I found myself in the throes of a bloodbath, with severe nosebleeds bursting at will. Literally, I had blood vessels bursting through the worn nasal membrane.  Let me spare you the details except to say I wondered if I would drown in my own blood rushing down my throat or if I would be found dead from blood loss. (I guess I didn’t spare you.) Thirty minutes, sometimes longer, to stop these hemmoraging incidents. I finally went to a specialist who cauterized the the weak areas. For the most part, the worst of it is over. Now I imagine turning into an old lady who can’t stop the bleeding. Imagining the worse, staying loyal to my Zelman roots. (Nod to Dad!) Ah, well, no use worrying about something that “might” happen. I’ll just keep my nose to the grindstone (yeah, I know.)

Long ago and far a way, I used to be so skinny my ribs showed through. My eyesight was so strong that I could sit for hours in a poorly lit room and read, read, read. I had no cavities and perfect gums. The nosebleeds? I have struggled with them throughout my life, but they were so minor, nothing but a nuisance, not a (perceived) near-death experience.

But still, I count my blessings. I have seen so much in 56 years that I realize I am so far, one of the lucky ones.

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