A client, who is also a friend, was telling me about a trip he took with a few couples to Florida last weekend. By the time they arrived at the airport to embark on their vacation, one of the men wasn’t looking so good. He’d been in a fender bender, and said he was experiencing blurred vision among other ailments, but he insisted on boarding the plane. My friend said that as soon as they took their seats, they began calling their doctors to find out what his symptoms could mean, and texted each other throughout the flight. When they landed, he went to the emergency room and learned his symptoms were the result of a diabetic thing that he’d had no idea he had. He remained in the hospital, and that was the talk of the weekend.
My client-friend said that when he arrived at dinner the first evening, he sat down and said, “This has taught me something: I need to get younger friends.”
I laughed, but his declaration led to a conversation about how often health (and weather, but let’s save that for another day) permeates our conversations with those close to us these days. I’m sixty-six and have a posse of mostly women where we open our calls with what I like to call A&P’s. Aches & Pains.
“How are you feeling?”
“Oh no! I was hoping that was going to get better.”
“How could it get better; I need a hip replacement, but I have to get off the blood thinners first.”
“Don’t get snippy with me.”
“It’s a long walk from that restaurant to the theater. She can’t do that. We have to find something closer.”
“Let’s not do cold and warm in the same trip. I can’t handle such a large suitcase.” (Swear to GOD!)
“We have to eat early. I really can’t see to drive home after it’s dark.”
“I’ll pick you up and drop you off.”
“No, it makes me nervous when someone else drives.”
“Did you hear? Cancer. Shit. Another one.”
“Let me go to the ladies room before we leave the restaurant. It’s a 15-minute drive home; I don’t want to have to stop.” (OK, that’s an exaggeration, but not by much!)
“Yes, I’m swimming but I am terrified about slipping when I get out. I think about it the entire time I’m doing my laps.”
“I went to the doctor. I have tinnitus.”
“What is it? Wait, don’t tell me because I’m sure I have it too and just can’t another thing to my life right now.”
“My shoulder really hurts, and now I get up twice a night to go to the bathroom and wake up another two or three times because of the shoulder. FML”
“That’s bad on so many levels. My friend had a pain in her shoulder and it was bone cancer. She’s gone. And, even if it’s not, interrupting your sleep that many times a night will take years off your life. Years I tell you.”
“I’m getting an operation on my eyes tomorrow. I have dry eye and am getting sharp pains in the back of my eyes.”
“What? Why haven’t you told me before you were having pain?”
“I sometimes forget because there are so many A&P’s to discuss. Let’s not get involved in my memory issues.”
Rarely do I have a conversation with a close friend that doesn’t include A&P’s. She vents. I vent. Then we move on to the important things we are doing in life. And we laugh a lot about the absurdity of the fact that we have become caricatures of our parents at their most irritating. We sometimes actually make decisions now based on body pains and shortcomings rather than opportunity and passion. I strive every day to remind myself to not go there. As long as we are laughing, and most of the time we are, we are safe from the demise of A&P overload.