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Aches and Pains of Age

Posted Mar 30 2009 3:51pm

category_bug_journal2.gif One of the unwritten rules of elderhood is that we may not talk about our aches and pains. Somehow, old people have a reputation for dwelling on them, but that's not my experience and it could be that we – or, the old people I know – have been brainwashed by the youth culture to keep silent.

Well, not today.

I am grateful for my health. Aside from slightly raised cholesterol levels controlled with medication, I have no age-related health problems – no arthritis, rheumatism, osteoporosis, etc. But I do have the odd ache or pain that I didn't have when I was younger.

On Sunday morning, I woke with a stitch in my side. Nothing debilitating, just irritating. I let it go for a few hours until remembered I have several painkillers in the cupboard. Sometimes you don't realize how much something hurts until it stops. What could I have done in my sleep to cause that?

Not exactly a pain, but for several years when I stood after sitting for a good while – lingering at dinner with friends, for example - I couldn't walk for half a minute or so without hobbling. It happened every morning when I got out of bed too. I realized recently that I've been hobble-free for many months now, maybe more than a year. It would help if I could figure out what changed so it doesn't return someday.

My elbows occasionally ache. I notice it when I lean on one and when I investigate by squeezing a little, it becomes real pain. Thinking it might be arthritis, I asked the doctor about it. She doubts it is arthritis and said, “So don't squeeze it.” That advice is hard to follow; I always want to see if still hurts.

Every few weeks or so, a stabbing pain attacks the second toe of my left foot. I mean, horrendous, teeth-grinding, wanna-scream pain. It is intermittent – each stab doesn't last long – but it repeats every few minutes for an hour or so and then disappears until next time, maybe a month or two. What's that about?

And here's a strange one: once in awhile, one of my earlobes aches horribly, although not for long.

A few trips through Google looking for “old age” and “aches and pains” turned up nothing useful. All the articles are about back, neck and joint pains or conditions mentioned above, some of which can be alleviated with moderate exercise. I am at a loss as to what exercises I can do for my second toe and earlobe.

Now in the greater scheme of things and compared to the real health problems of some elders, none of this is worth mentioning. But I'm curious about whether I am alone in experiencing random pains unrelated to conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism, etc. and that don't seem to indicate a health problem.

[ At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mort Reichek writes of When I Slept with Lauren Bacall. ]

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