Wednesday, February 20, 2008

They were right, getting old really does suck!

I looked in the mirror this morning and I hardly had any eyelashes left! And, the ones I do have are short, little stubby things. AGH! What happened to me?!

Having struggled with a condition that I can only label as chronic fatigue (though I have not been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), it seems that I have grown old rather quickly. However, it is not just CFS that makes me feel old. I feel like I have gotten old so fast (and at such a young age) but perhaps that is what most middle-aged women feel???

I suffer from a hearing loss and must wear hearing aids. While I can hear without them, I miss a lot of things. My audiologist tells me that my loss is pretty significant for my age. However, hearing loss is occurring at younger and younger ages. In fact, people in their 50s and even in their 40s are now being seen with hearing loss that often didn’t occur until much later in life (such as 60s and 70s). Some of the reasons for this are occupational noise, loud music (you know, that guy on the bus with his headphone blaring so loud that you can clearly hear the music!) and even loud movies and TV (Hearing Loss Web; In my case, the first two items on that list would be a big part of the problem. I don’t get to see movies much, however, I probably should consider that blaring TV my husband is watching.

Then there is the wonderful world of perimenopause. Don’t even get me started on that one!

Most recently, I got to experience several cardiac stress tests, nuclear scans, and an angiogram (now, remember, I am in my mid-forties). Fortunately, the heart disease that the cardiologist suspected turned out to be a false positive stress test. However, I still suffer from angina like pains and carry nitroglycerine in my purse.

Perhaps what gets to me is the “symbolism” of old age: hearing aids, nitroglycerine…these are things that “old” people have/need. Now all I need is a lovely pair of dentures and I will be set! And, my hair has gotten a whole lot thinner…Gawd, I am turning into Fred Mertz!

Moreover, because of the chronic fatigue, I do not have the energy to live the life I led only a few years ago. I forget things, I cannot concentrate, I cannot get organized, etc etc. Doctors (and I say “doctors” because I have a few) struggle with trying to figure out what is “wrong with me.” ADD (probably fits), heart disease (fortunately not), diabetes (nope, all those tests are fine), thyroid (medication has kept my TSH fairly stable for years now), depression (OK, taking anti-depressants and I am not currently “depressed” – but I am discouraged!)…This just names a few.

Sometimes I think that this is just the result of being a (middle-aged) woman. When you have a child is takes a lot out of you. If you have a whole passel of them, what does that do to you? Sometimes I think we give too much of ourselves away during the assimilation into motherhood. Especially, when we become mothers early in life; we often don’t have the opportunity to find out who we are, other than “mommy.” Then there is school/work (both of which I have given much too much of myself to as well). Wonderwoman syndrome has a price!

I look at young women today and am amazed at their capacity for 1) self-preservation, 2) assertion with men, and 3) their won’t-take-any-shit attitude. I have always secretly envied people – especially women – who were (what society would label as) selfish. To be selfish was never a value for women in my family. In fact it was almost a sin.

I wonder if I knew how to be more selfish if I would feel this damn old…

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