Keeping healthy and ahead of possible health problems is important at any age, but the way to do these things changes over time. In your 50s, providers squish and reach in certain areas less often than in the past and turn their attention to deeper, darker territory never seen before in most of us. I recently signed on for a week-long adventure into this uncharted territory and like Uncle Rudy, took lots of ‘pictures’ and notes so I could share the wisdom I gained along the way.
Upon receiving a phone call with a less-than-honest description of the preparation needed for the trip, I realized this was going to be more involved than originally thought. I received a full itinerary and the first activity, as when planning any trip, involved shopping. As I loaded my cart with all the powders, liquids, and pills that I needed to prepare for my adventure, everyone over 50 who was in front of, behind, and around me knew where I was going. I thought I would slip out through the self-checkout to avoid more of those, “Oh, so you’re having ‘that’ done looks”, but that turned out to be a bad idea-the bottle of comfort-coated tablets for gentle, predictable relief, wouldn’t ring up. I scanned, rescanned, three-scanned, turned the bottle one way, then another, shook it, twisted it, but nothing. I kept watching the clerk who was watching me. I wanted to make sure she wasn’t reaching for loud speaker to announce “price check for overnight relief in line 1.” Finally, I heard the beep I longed for, grabbed my bag of goodies, and rushed from the store.
The next item on the itinerary was different than any trip I had previously taken. Instead of ‘packing’, I had to ‘unpack’-and I had to do it for an entire week. I didn’t know so much stuff could fit into, and ultimately, come out of one bag. As each day passed, so did everything from the previous day and eventually, earlier the same day. As the day of encroachment grew closer, it was no longer safe to let anything escape unless safely seated over the pond. With each passing day, the force grew until it prohibited me from venturing far from my new friend, Johnny. What happened to gentle, overnight relief?
Finally, the day of the splunking trip arrived. Bright eyed and sore bushy-tailed I sort of sat in the waiting room with everyone else who regrettably signed up with their travel agent for the same type of adventure. We all sat there with the same hopes running through our heads-“ I hope I get to leave soon, I hope that’s not what I think it is, I hope I can hold this until it’s my turn, I hope Johnny’s nearby.” As a name was called, the next traveler approached and entered the portal. I secretly said goodbye as each comrade, to whom I had united in spirit, departed on their journey-feeling a little disappointed that they got to go before me.
Soon, it was my turn and I reluctantly I stepped forward while tightly squeezing the backdoor closed. I was given instructions about what to expect and was strapped in for departure. While in a holding pattern, I realized I had made a major Freudian slip-I forgot to take off the backdoor cover. I pressed the call button and there it was, the loud speaker, just like the one I avoided during the shopping spree. “Can I help you?” Ah, how do you say, “I need an attendant to put my undies into the pretty teal belongings bag that is stored in my overhead bin,” in a way that doesn’t make you sound like an idiot, considering the trip you about to embark on?
From my vantage point, I could see the list of travelers cleared for take-off so I knew it was my turn before they even called my name. Away I went, anxiously holding the side rail wearing nothing butt a large piece of fabric with sleeves and my socks-good thing my feet would be warm. What seemed like seconds later, I was told the trip was over. What? It’s over? I didn’t get to see anything? I hope the adventure into the deep, dark divide was more exciting for those leading the tour than for me-I don’t remember anything about it. Now, I’ve been on other adventures that I don’t clearly remember, but there was nothing, not even recollection of someone reaching for the back door.
As I look back at all the ‘pictures’ and mental notes I made throughout this adventure, I have three pieces of wisdom to share that I hope will be helpful to those planning the same trip. Think of me as your travel agent who wants you to have great adventure. First, make sure the rosebud is pointed towards the pond-this is not a time to hover. Second, the force will be with you-don’t be fooled by those light sensations similar to what you’ve had in the past-they will get you every time. Last, but certainly not least, a visitor will come in through the backdoor even though you didn’t hear knocking-you already told them to stop by. Oh, and don’t be surprised by the abrupt ending to this intimate adventure. All you will hear is, “Get dressed and go home.” Not even a, “Thanks for traveling with us, I hope you enjoyed your trip.” Bon voyage!