Ah, the signs of aging. We just can’t escape them, can we?
Most days, I still feel like a kid. I look at my friends who have husbands and kids, and think to myself, I don’t know if I’m in the same place as them. I don’t know if I’m old enough to have those responsibilities…I’m still a kid myself!
When I remember that I’m almost 31, I have to shake my head in disbelief. Most days, I definitely don’t feel old.
But the signs are there. I can see it in the wrinkles that are showing up around my eyes (smile lines! They’re just SMILE LINES, Mom!), I can feel it in the vaguely nagging pain of my heel spurs, and I know it by the fact that my neck and upper back muscles are still stiff and sore almost a month after my tumble out of bed.
And I can most certainly feel it in my creaky old lady knees.
Here’s the kicker, though: these creaky old lady knees of mine? I’ve had ‘em since I was a little kid.
I blame my creaky old lady knees on my weight. For the majority of my life, I was very overweight. I’d say from the age of 5 or 6, my love for junk food caught up to me, and from then until the age of 30, I carried around a lot of extra pounds on my body. And my knees have suffered for it.
I’ve always known my knees were crappy. But I had a discussion with my doctor about it years ago, and he basically shrugged and told me there wasn’t much he could do about it. I’m too young to have surgery or knee replacements, and they don’t cause me any chronic pain, so he said I basically just have to live with my crappy knees. I think he also mildly suggested losing weight at the time might help. I’ve done that, and while I think it’s definitely helped, they are still far from perfect.
The damage has been done. And it was never so apparent to me as it was one night last year at Yoga. My sister-in-law Amanda was our instructor, and she told us to go into this pose… I don’t remember what it was called, but we started by reaching arms up in the air, then lowering ourselves down on our haunches as far as we could go with are hands folded prayer-like in front of us.
I moved through the pose, sinking down as far as my knees and tight quads would allow. I was gritting my teeth because it hurt, breathing hard and deep as I suffered through it. After a few moments of struggling, I glanced around to see if anyone else was having the same trouble (even though we’re not supposed to look at each other) – and was shocked. Absolutely shocked. The other five or six girls in the class were all riiiight down on their haunches. Down in complete back catcher stances. Some of them had sunk down so low their butts were touching the floor.
And there I was, basically leaned over at the hips with elbows resting on my knees, and MY ass was hovering a good two feet off the ground.
I looked like I was sitting in an invisible chair, for crying out loud.
Chair pose is a classic Yoga pose. But it was not the one I was supposed to be in.
I can’t crouch down to eye level when a little kid is trying to talk to me. I can’t bend down easily to get things out of low cupboards or drawers. Lord knows I could NEVER in a million years be a back catcher (and I quite marvel at the men who can sink down so easily and make it look like a piece of cake – and then stay that way for as long as they do. Baffles me. Absolutely baffles me.)
When I first started jogging a year ago, people warned me that it would be hard on my knees. I figured, What the hell, they’re already toast anyways, how much worse can I make ‘em? And oddly enough, my knees don’t hurt when I run. Not even a twinge. Never have. I’ve been lucky in that way – perhaps I’m not pushing myself hard enough or running far enough, but I’ve never dealt with any of the usual runner problems. No shin splints, no blisters, no sore knees. Of course, I plod through the pain in my heels, but that’s something I deal with all day long, running or not, and it’s usually only a real pain first thing in the morning. It actually gets better the farther I go.
I remember my mom marveling at my grandmother, then in her early ‘90’s, getting down on the floor to play with my baby nephew Caden – her first great-grandchild. She loved to get down beside him on the floor while he lay on a blanket, kicking and cooing. She’d talk to him and murmur nursery rhymes while rubbing his tummy. “Mom, be careful,” my mother would gently admonish. “What are you going to do if you get down there and you can’t get back up?”
But she always got back up. And, considering her age, she did so with relative ease.
I think of that now and wonder, if I’m ever so blessed to live to such a ripe old age, and be in decent health, with grandchildren and, perhaps, even great-grandchildren… will I be able to do that, like Grandma? Will I even be able to come close?
OK, guys. Your turn. Make me feel better. Tell me about your aches and pains. Your signs of aging. I can’t be alone in this, right?