It was my birthday last week so it is time for me to spin the big Birthday Wheel. You know the wheel right? My husband discovered it many years ago. Once you turn 40, every year you get to spin an imaginary wheel that provides you with a brand new, unwelcome and non-returnable gift.
The first one that most people receive is “READING GLASSES!” This one comes up a lot. You will see people holding small bottles of medicine out at arms length to try and read the label, or insist that it is only bad lighting in the room that is forcing them to squint in such a bad way. I only received half of this spin – my doctor recommended ‘mono vision’ for me which means that I wear one contact lens for distance in one eye and leave the other free as it can still read small print perfectly. This is not nearly as disconcerting as it sounds – your brain automatically chooses the best image at all times so you are not aware that your eyes are seeing completely different things.
Another common spot on the wheel is “PEE AT NIGHT“. When I was young and had been up late (and up to no good) and knew that I would have trouble getting up for work, I would drink an extremely large glass of water before I went to bed. When my alarm went off in the morning, it was only the need to pee that would force me from my sheets. Now, my sleep is interrupted in the night by having to go to the bathroom. I used to think I was pretty clever – I would keep one eye tightly shut and only open one so I could turn on the light in the bathroom and not be blinded when I returned to the darkened bedroom. My friend Chris pointed out that I didn’t actually need to turn on any lights at all – it wasn’t like an obstacle course between me and the facilities. Plus my years of excessive movie going have made me well suited to see in the dark. I always sneak a glance at the clock on my way back to bed and hope that it’s 2:45 am and not 5:15. I really want to get back to sleep and if it’s near morning it’s hard.
A strange spot on the wheel is called “PLANTAR FASCIITIS“. If you don’t know what that is, please skip this paragraph because they are still not sure what causes it and perhaps knowledge of its existence is part of how it can get you! Suffice to say, if you have extreme pain in the arch on the bottom of your feet when you first get out of bed in the morning, this might be happening to you. Exercise, physio, massage, Lourdes – try them all but start with sitting up in bed and pulling the tops of your feet back with a scarf before you get out of bed. That will help.
The mental ones on the wheel are the most scary. “LOSS OF NOUNS” seems to come up for people quite often. You are perfectly able to speak intelligently on any number of subjects but for some reason the actual name of things seems to disappear. Sandra Shamus says that it isn’t like you forget the word for tea, it’s like the word for tea never existed. ‘I want the thing where you put the bag in the hot water and it changes colour and you drink it”. I can run into a person that I have known for years and remember everything (and I mean everything) about them – except their damn name. If we are ever out together and I don’t introduce you to someone who joins us, please figure that I can’t remember and just introduce yourself.
l play a little tennis (daily) and not just because it’s fun. Researchers studying neuroplasticity have found that combining mental and physical activities is a good way to keep your brain growing and healthy. I started taking bridge lessons to help my brain as well. Bridge is hard. You can fight getting old but you are bailing against the tide.
The only thing that makes it bearable? Having someone to laugh and share it with. Nobody gets out of here alive. You just gotta try and enjoy the ride.