Getting old sucks – and I am not even old yet

I walked from the kitchen at the back of the office to the other end of the floor where my desk is. It is not a long walk. I remember thinking as I was walking that my knee was not too bad and that I was not limping.

I was on my way back to my desk when a colleague stopped me and asked, ‘Your knee is really bad today, huh?’

Actually on reflection it was less of a question, more of an observation. I did not think I was limping, but apparently to those that can walk normally – it has been nearly four months since my operation – I am still walking like a pirate.

It appears at this stage, that the operation, which was supposed to sort my knee out has actually had the effect of rendering me less able, possibly permanently. I had not even considered as a possibility that this would be an outcome. I thought the op would work, or it would not. It never occurred to me that my knee, while no longer hitting me with spikes of pain three times or so a night, would be painful all day every day while I was awake.

I have an appointment with my surgeon next week and I am going to ask him about this. In the meantime I may just spread the word among my well meaning colleagues that their insistence on making sympathetic commentaries on my mobility is beginning to verge on the upsetting. Not a day goes past without someone commenting on my limp, my hobbling, the pain I am in. They might as well be pointing out how fat I am. Maybe if I lose some weight the pain will diminish, maybe not. I know far bigger people who have recovered successfully from the same type of procedure. One thing I was hoping for was the ability to run again, but I can still barely walk so the prospect of losing weight again is now harder than it ever was.

If I am feeling bad about this at aged 51, then I can only look further down the track in dismay and see my parents struggling not only with daily physical tasks, but with mental ones too. Online banking is such a breeze for those that have been doing it for a while, but when suddenly a bank wants you to set up secret answers to secret questions, and you do, but then forget that you have done, it causes havoc. My mother was trying to pay bills – something she has been learning to get across since my dad’s memory started to fail – but my dad still likes to check on the banking using his iPad. He does not have a mobile phone because he never uses it anymore, so could not supply a number for an authorization code. The banking software demanded secret questions and answers from him – which he duly set up, forgot about and my parents are now locked out of their own bank account.

My mother will now have to trek up to the bank with ID to reset the account, and try to negotiate terms she does not understand with banking staff that do not understand what it is like to find yourself in a foreign land not speaking the language.

My dad finally decided to get my mum a late birthday present – an Ipad, more shiny tech that is going to be a steep learning curve for her because the phone I bought her has a different operating system. When I got my first Apple device, it was a pain in the neck because you had to associate it with a credit card first and an iTunes account, now Apple Pay is part of the deal and you seem to need a passcode or thumb print to set it up. I asked my mum to hang on a couple of days and I would walk her through it when I got over, because I could see my dad seizing the device and setting up all sorts of things and then not remembering what he had done.

I was at the supermarket the other day and watched amazed as an elderly lady wrote a cheque out at the cash register and the checkout assistant typed the bank card number in to the system. It seemed to take forever, and yet now I can understand why someone would want to hold on to a system that they understand, that makes sense to them. For all the ease of online banking and the fun of new shiny tech, it is just an overwhelming and disconcerting new world to those born slightly out of time with its development, and serves only to alienate and confuse people at a time when life should be getting easier.

Getting old really sucks.


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