Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Old Age: Fightin’ Back!

Yay! This morning WonderOrthodontist decided not to perform the next step in replacing the busted tooth, because he felt it needed some more healing time. Six weeks!!

This was not something I was looking forward to: I’ve had about enough pokes in the gums to last me for the rest of my life. So despite having to trudge over to his place through the rain, I was delighted to dart in, socialize with his charming staff members, admire his cuteness briefly (this is yet another highly educated specimen of gorgeousness!), and dart out.

However…  Driving across town reminded me — again — that Old Age is creepin’ up. That would be old age in the form of freaking senility.

I have to admit that I am beginning to feel some concern about issues that seem to be associated (possibly) with age.

Ever since I tripped in the dark over that busted slab of sidewalk, I’ve felt weirdly unsure on my feet. Especially in the bathtub…but also just about anyplace in the house. I find myself picking my way across the floor, particularly near steps, for fear I’m going to trip or misstep again. That is not my style.

But given that I walloped myself magnificently and that it took weeks and weeks to recover, it makes sense. It’s reasonable, right?

Fine. However, we have another issue that is much more worrisome: an apparent growing degree of confusion.

This is not forgetfulness, though like anyone over about 50, I forget where my keys are if I don’t put them away where they belong. As issues go, that one is neither very serious nor does it seem to be getting worse.

The problem has to do with not recognizing or remembering exactly where I am, even though I’m on a path that’s so beaten it’s practically polished.

I have been driving in this city since 1966. That is fifty-four years. I navigate by dead reckoning because a map of the roads and neighborhoods is imprinted on my consciousness like the migration routes in a mallard’s brain. Yea verily, I know the city so well I can get from point A to point B without even looking where I’m going. No, I don’t have to read the road signs anymore.

Except…

The other day I went out to the credit union, which lurks on the ASU West campus at 45th Avenue and Thunderbird. You understand, I worked at that place for ten years. I drove out there five or six days a week, every week, at least once and often twice in a given day. Frequently I drove out and back after dark, to teach night classes.

ASU’s westside campus is bounded on the east side by 43rd Avenue and on the west side by 51st Avenue. Both of these are faceless, bland, Southern-California-style runways that pass through faceless, bland tracts falling to decay and past faceless, bland strip malls that invite you to do nothing more than to pass them by.

So I’m cruising up 43rd, and on the way am looking for a Fry’s Supermarket that stands on an east-west thoroughfare called Peoria — another faceless, blandly ugly road. When I can’t find the thing, I figure it’s on the next road over, west of the campus, not east of it.

I know that is wrong, because I know what’s on 51st, and it ain’t a Fry’s. But nevertheless I come to believe that is the case. But here’s the thing: I think I’m on 35th Avenue and that the next road on the other side of the campus is 43rd. Which it decidedly is not.

When I realize I’m not northbound on 35th but instead am already on 43rd, I become seriously confused…as in I don’t know quite where I am. Not until my car comes up beside the campus do I recognize where I am, but I still can’t understand why 43rd is in the wrong place.

It’s not, of course…35th is the road I use to drive from the campus up to the Costco on the I-17 — it’s another couple miles to the east of the campus.

Even after I finish the errand in the credit union and climb back into the car, I’m still almost convinced that 43rd is on the west side of the campus. To wit: I’ve come unstuck in space!

That was creepy.

And now we have today. I head off to the orthodontist’s. His office is situated on a road I have used to drive home from the ASU Main campus and back and forth to various shopping and business venues for many, many years. I’ve been to his office several times over the past three months or so.

The usual route would be across Glendale (which gets renamed “Lincoln” as it passes eastward) to 36th Street, down through a ritzy neighborhood to Stanford, eastward again past the swankiest private school in the state, and then south on 40th to the doc’s office building. However, Glendale/Lincoln has been all dug up for yet another public-works boondoggle and is projected to be so for months. It is one of the most heavily traveled surface streets in the city, and so has been bumper-to-bumper all the way from 24th Street to Tatum, on the edge of Scottsdale.

Avoid!

Hordes of avoiders are driving all the way down to Camelback Road to move east and west across the north-central part of the city. Thus, Camelback Road:

Avoid!

So the plan is to drop down 7th Street (where I have to buy some gasoline) to a major feeder street called Missouri, cruise across that to 24th, and from there go north and then navigate east across Stanford to 40th Street.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

See…the problem is… Stanford doesn’t go through to 24th Street.

You have to pick it up on 32nd, where it debouches into the fast-moving traffic flying between Camelback and Lincoln.

I know this. I know it as well as I know where the water glasses in my kitchen cupboards are.

Nevertheless, I make my way across Missouri to 24th and then northward…growing ever more puzzled that I can’t find the turn onto Stanford.

Not until I get almost all the way up to Lincoln do I realize that I’m on the wrong road to turn east on Stanford!

Got that? I’m as lost and as confused as a flatland tourister from Cleveland!

This is alarming because I’ve used that Stanford cut-through for years to get across the city to and from Scottsdale, to get to my hair stylist, to dodge traffic while coming back from Tempe, and to evade the eternal mess on Camelback Road.

Holy sh!t.

It begins to look a whole lot more alarming than “losing” your car keys or your glasses. It begins to look a whole lot like real senility.

I should not be confused in any way about something I’m so familiar with. Something’s wrong there.

{sigh} Reflecting on this predicament this afternoon, I wondered if I might be doing something to cause this — other than simply aging. If so, what might that “something” be?

Well, there are several possibilities, to tell the truth. For one, I hardly ever go out any more — that’s why the mileage on my car is so low. I hate driving in Phoenix’s wackshit traffic, and so avoid it as much as possible. That’s why I quit the Scottsdale Business Association: that drive to the Pavilions, way to Hell and gone across two freeways in the rush hour, was more than I cared to contemplate.

So we have some candidate causes here:

  1. Lassitude. I’ve stopped doing almost everything. I’m not even keeping up the garden.
  2. Lack of social contact. The church is the only place I see people anymore.
  3. Illness and injury. Neither of these can be helping the situation.
  4. Drinking. Possibly two or three glasses of beer, wine, or whiskey are 2 or 3 too many.
  5. Lack of interest in much. I don’t give a shit anymore.
  6. Desire to stay off the roads; increasing dislike of driving.
  7. Age.
  8. Possibly signs of senile dementia.

Could be any of these. Could be all of ’em, eh?

So the question is… Is there anything that can be done about this stuff?

Obviously, there’s nothing I can do about getting older. Nor, if I’m losing my marbles, can I do anything about that.

Maybe I can slow the process down a bit, though.

  1. Get off the duff! Get back to gardening (at least), get back to hiking in the mountain preserves. Pick up a goddamn pen and start writing again. Take the dog to different places to walk. Re-explore the Valley.
  2. Revive old friendships and relationships. Try to inveigle my way back into SBA or, failing that, rejoin the Chamber, whose avatars persist in nagging me to come back. Join one of the many groups at the church.
  3. Drink water, not wine or beer, with dinner.
  4. Get over it about the damn traffic! Stick the dog in the car and take her to other parks and hiking trails. Or just drive up the rim and hike in the sticks.
  5. Do some shopping. I haven’t seen the inside of My Sister’s Closet of Nordstrom’s Rack in two or three years.
  6. And…keep a record of these happenings, to see if they continue even if I manage to change the elements above.

Frankly, I don’t feel much hope that throwing myself around to bring a little more life back into my life is going to make much difference. Doubt if it’ll do much harm, though. And if I do have a record of this weird stuff, at least I’ll know whether it’s real. Or not.

 

Author: funny

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4 Comments

  1. A lot of the things you mention could be associated with depression. And have you had your thyroid checked recently? My mother’s was checked and it was extremely low. Her dosage had to be raised three times already. She said her memory was poor and she was more tired. Both things she just blamed on old age, she is 92 now.

    • Yeah…recently had a complete physical. In fact, though, after writing this I recalled that I’d learned a mild concussion will have similar effects. And yup…I did whop my head pretty well when I took that tumble.

  2. It could be mild concussion or other short-term factors, and I very much hope that it is.

    If you have more experiences like the ones you describe, I would say to go to a doctor specifically about what’s happening. It could be something to do with the combination of medications you’re on, and it might be worth doing a real review of your full medication list to verify that you don’t have interactions or overlaps that are causing you issues. It could also be the onset of dementia, which you’re already thinking about. If it is… seriously, as horrible as the diagnosis is, the best thing you can do for yourself is to get it identified quickly. You more control over making the decisions you want for yourself if you start making them early, and the treatment options are better early on, too.

    • I’m one of the rare older Americans who do not take ANY medications. So that’s not an issue. The concern is early signs of dementia, as you observe.

      Indeed I have talked to a doctor about some of the more startling incidents. He did not feel they were anything to worry about, except for my intense dislike of my fellow homicidal drivers. 😉 The unstuck in space incidents, though, occurred after he and I talked. Next time we meet, I’m afraid he’ll be hearing about that stuff!

      In fact, a large part of the problem may be poor sleeping habits. No matter when I go to bed, I wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning. May (or may not) get back to sleep for another hour, but even so that doesn’t do much for the Zombie Effect. I suspect this phenomenon may be connected with my habit of taking a couple of glasses of wine or a couple of beers with the midday meal. Yesterday I launched a new teetotaling program, and lo! Slept all the way through to 6 a.m.

      So it may be that as you get older, you need to stay completely off the sauce. Or at least, maybe some of us do.