Feeling Old Again
I have not been myself for about a week and a half. As I type that, I think about what my grandson, Maddux, would say if he heard me say it. If you’re not yourself, Papa, he’d likely say, who are you? I’ve felt like this really old guy lately, Maddux, I’d tell him. But you are old, he’d say with the disarming honesty of a child. Earlier this week, Muri, who’s been keeping an eye on my mood, asked, How are you today, Bud? I’m feeling really old, I told her. I hate to tell you this, Bud, she said with the not so disarming honesty I’ve mostly loved for 45 years, but you’re almost sixty-nine. The forty-year old inside my head that’s driving this almost sixty-nine year old body did not want to hear that. I’m curious. Is the Inner Forty-Year Old unique to older men?
You see, I’ve been really tired. Left to my own devices, I earn my fatigue by being what my mother called a dirty-stay-up which means … given that I rarely sleep in … that I don’t get enough sleep at night. Some afternoons, I can hardly keep my eyes open which leads to long nearly-comatose naps that leave me groggy for hours after I wake up. On the recommendation of my doctor, I’ve been trying to get to bed by 11:30 pm, which gives me about 8 hours of sleep, so far with no change in my afternoon fatigue. I’m trying to be more conscientious about my vitamins, too, also with no discernible improvement. I’ve noticed that my older body responds to my positive changes more slowly than it used to, perhaps uninclined to waste time on adjustments if I’m not going to stick with them. My fatigue seems to bring with it an assortment of aches and pains, so I’m being more conscientious about stretching. It’s a bit ironic that in my running days, I took ibuprofen to ease muscle aches that couldn’t be eased by stretching. Now, it’s the muscle aches from stretching that cry out for medication. My appetite has declined … practically nothing sounds good, although I continue to eat because food in my stomach relieves the low grade heartburn I’ve been suffering.
On top of it all, I’ve been anxious, some of it justified, the product of a tax appointment and a defense department security audit, and some of it free-floating, the kind of anxiety that asks questions like: Is this what old age is going to feel like from now on? Or: Could something be really wrong? Or: Could it be because you stopped the testosterone replacement therapy? Maybe the anxiety causes the fatigue. Maybe it’s the other way around. Does it matter? Monday morning, as I was pouring my coffee, the switch in my head that brings on panic attacks was thrown by some gremlin or other and I was instantly convinced I had a pulmonary embolism. Yes, I had just been to the doctor and all my vitals were excellent. Panic attacks are not rational. Instead of a trip to the emergency room, I popped a Xanax, which headed it off at the pass. It takes a few days for the fear of another attack to pass and by then it will be Friday and I’m headed north for our annual Men’s retreat in the Santa Barbara area. Maybe it’s just what I need. Maybe. But I’ll keep the Xanax close.
And hopefully, by the time we leave for Arizona to celebrate Maddux’s birthday next week, I’ll be myself again. Yes, Maddux, old. But not tired, achy and anxious.