People in their 70’s should not be surprised when their bodies occasionally betray them. Although I am an eternal pessimist, I am remarkably optimistic about my health. Each time I recover from something, I say to myself, “Thank goodness that is over.”
It’s as if, once I’ve had something, the same thing will never happen again. There are some things that are permanently in the past, such as a gall bladder attack, an infected appendix, and swollen tonsils. Having immunity from these things gives me a false sense of wellbeing. I was surprised to wake in the middle of the night with a backache. Changing position did not alleviate it. I slid to the floor and thought, “I’m not sure I can walk.”
I did walk, if a hobble counts as walking. Lying in a different position might help, and with that I fell asleep again. When I woke ahead of the alarm, I was determined to walk to the creek if I could bend enough to get my shoes on. They say walking is the best thing for back problems, so the exercise could either improve me or make me lame. All was well until I paused at the creek, shifting my weight from one leg to the other. As new pain hit, I wondered where I’d turn for help. John was on his way to Tennessee to a train club, and the neighbors were probably asleep. I got back on the pavement, which did the trick. These words are proof that I made it home.
On the way home, I was remembering Amy’s recent account of seeing a relative. She hadn’t seen the woman for some time and was surprised to see her hobbling. Her pace was painfully slow.
Amy asked, “What’s wrong with you? Are you having hip problems or bad knees?”
I don’t remember the answer because Amy’s next blunt query made me laugh. She asked, “When did you get old?”
While trudging up the steep hill on Qualla, I decided this early March day might very well be the day I got old.