Some thirty-odd years ago, the late Dutch artist-cum-singer, Tol Hansse, wrote and recorded the number Hoofpijn, Rheumatiek, in which he complained in his usual tongue-in-cheek melancholy fashion, about the way we treat our milieu (he was a man before his time). The chorus could apply equally well to growing old: Headache, rheumatism, water-pipes and gas-works.
This getting old business is a bit of a lark, isn't it?
I mean, I don't feel any older than I did when I was young, so what are all these tricks my body's playing on me? Pills, potions and pomades, that's what life is all about nowadays. You go to the doctor and the answer to all the aches and pains, the gases and all other complains remains the same, "It's the age!"
I started aching some fifteen years ago, but after several years of poking and prodding, it was discovered that I had severe osteoporosis. Fair enough, that at least was an acceptable explanation, even if no real reason (other than it being in the genes) could be given. But now it seems that anything and everything is age-related.
Drops in the eyes against glaucoma, high doses of calcium and additional vitamin D, together with a medicine called Protelos, to combat the effects of osteoporosis, various other concoctions against gout, or trout, or something, along with creams against irritation in places best left unmentioned.
I eat food and my nose starts running; I've lost my sense of smell almost completely; my back aches when I sit too long, or stand too long, or lie too long, or… The hair stopped growing on my head years ago, but now grows in my ears, for heaven's sake.
My body goes out where it used to go in and goes in where it used to go out. Running for anything is a past art. I come into the living-room intending to do something extremely important and haven't the faintest idea what it is I intend to do.
Exercise is limited: I tried jogging some years back and that caused split shins (presumably because of the osteoporosis); gentle tai-chi resulted in a compression fracture of the vertebrae. At least I can walk a lot more here in Spain than I could in Belgium, but it is not something I am particularly fond of. I do, of course, have the vibro-platform that I wrote about earlier, so at least I get to shake it all about now and then. I use the platform every other day, in fact, though am still not at all sure if it actually does anything useful!
Alcohol, you say?
I don't drink alcohol and haven't done so since 1982.
Smoking, you say?
I have never smoked.
Diet, you say?
She Who Must Be Obeyed provides me with what she insists is a well-balanced diet, containing all the vitamins, roughage, proteins and whatever else that a healthy lifestyle requires. Who am I to argue?
So perhaps the doctors (and Tol Hansse) really do have a point about this getting old business: it's not good for you.
What key am I supposed to press now…?