SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska
Column - Commentary - Humor

Falling into Old Age



March 10, 2019
Sunday PM

Ketchikan, Alaska -
Jerry Seinfeld once did a stand up routine about turning 40. He noted that a variety of things happen, most notably fate assigns you a random disease or infirmity that you will have to deal with for the rest of your life.

jpg  Dave Kiffer

So when I turned 60 a few weeks ago, I was interested to see what fate had in store (when I turned 40, I was in Ireland, so all fate had planned for me was a raging hangover).

Natch, it did not disappoint.

First of all, I got the "coughing and hacking" crud that lasted for four weeks (technically, it hasn't quite yet abated). Through that I was gifted with several days off work, which was exciting. Of course, laying at home sick in bed is not the way I preferred to spend that windfall. I love to sleep in, but not with bad head cold. Of course it was okay when I was actually asleep, but I kept waking up and I was still sick.

And why is it that when you are sick, you are never sick in your dreams? Everything is normal (as much as that is possible in dreams in which you are always lost in big cities, unable to find your high school locker, or standing naked in from of a large crowd at the Boston Garden). You are not sick. Then you wake up and you are. Go figure.

But I digress.

So I celebrated the beginning of my 60s sick.

Then I got some sort of irritation under one of my molar crowns.

The fact that I can say "one of my molar crowns" shows you that like many Ketchikanites, I have teeth issues. It is my goal to eventually have enough gold in my mouth to be able to retire to Aruba where I can sit by the beach and sip daiquiri smoothies. Because, of course, I won't have any teeth left to chew anything.

But I digress, again.

Anyway, with some aggressive flossing, the irritation eventually went away.

By that point I had stopped coughing enough to resume my exercise regimen.

Yes, now that I am officially old, I must have an exercise regimen. Once upon a time, I could bounce out of bed in the morning and immediately get on with my day. Now, I no longer bounce. If I don't do my exercise regimen (a thirty minute walk) my legs and knees absolutely refuse to work in concert and allow me to move about in a manner that does not resemble Walter Brennan.

That's another thing about being 60 and up. You reference people who died in 1970s.

At any rate, I was engaging in my exercise regime and I officially became old. I did that stereotypical thing that all "old people" do. I fell down.

Okay, I had some help. It wasn't like I just tipped over one day trying to put my underwear on, for goodness sake.

I did that common Alaskan winter thing. I fell down on some ice. It's common enough that local doctors refer the winter months as "Sprain Season." Heckfire, even if you don't completely fall down, you wrench your body into a pretzel staying upright when you start to slip.

So, I was "exercising" by doing some laps around downtown Ketchikan, I stepped on some snow that was masking some ice from a leaky faucet and KAPOW. The next thing I knew I was laying on my back on the sidewalk.

Now first off, I want you to know that I am generally a careful walker. I am not one of the Olympic power-pacers who just steams along like they are trying to outrace the Russians and Mexicans in the last kilo of a 50km race. I have learned over my 21,900 days to be wary of taking a false step. I have indeed fallen down some rabbit holes (like 10 paragraphs ago) in my life. But the sidewalks were generally clear of snow and ice that day so I was lulled into a false sense of security and KAPOW.

At first, as I lay there on my back (yes, I looked around to make sure that no one had seen me fall, that embarrassment is worse than the actual fall), I was pleased that my cranium had not impacted the sidewalk when I fell. You see, I have a very hard head and I didn't want to get a bill from the City of Ketchikan because they would have to fix the concrete my head would have broken.

Then I gingerly moved my back around to see if there was any damage where I had fully impacted the concrete. It felt okay. Just a little winded.

Then I got up and went about finishing my walk. When I got back to my car, I realized that my right wrist was a bit swollen. That was surprising because I had no memory of it hitting the pavement. I still don't.

But apparently it did. It swelled up nicely and then began to hurt. Really hurt. I was worried about a possible hairline fracture but it was something worse, a bad sprain. You see fractures and breaks tend to heal relatively promptly but sprains just kind of drag on forever, That's why  three #$%$*!@#$ weeks later, I am typing this with my left hand. Actually my left index finger.

And that's another thing, why do humans - ostensibly the most evolutionarily evolved life forms ever - generally turn at least one of their hands into a completely useless appendage?

We are generally right handed or left handed. Either way, we are left with one hand that is completely useless for everything we need to do in life. I have been reminded, at age 60, that my left hand has virtually no purpose. Can I shave with it? No. Can I brush my teeth with it? No. Can it accurately deploy toilet paper? No. Have you ever tried to start your car ignition with your left hand? I rest my case.

Well, from here on out I resolve - even after my right wrist gets better - to teach my left hand to do stuff. I have a task that my left hand will be perfect for going forward.

I will train it to activate my "Life Alert."



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Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.

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