“It could be a stress fracture,” the doctor says. “But it’s most likely arthritis.”
He presses on the swollen and inflamed part on the top of my foot. Not so gently I might add.
I pull my foot away.
“Ouch!” I exclaim, before adding kind of jokingly. Kind of not. “I’m not old enough for it to be arthritis.”
He doesn’t sense my ‘funny’. He looks at me. Looks at the computer monitor where my file is open. I imagine my date of birth flashing at him in big red numbers, a sireen blaring somewhere in his head. Age Alert! Age Alert!
He quickly does the math and says, “Yes you are.”
Thanks. I feel so much better.
He does tell me arthritis can happen no matter how old you are, but risk increases with age. Mostly because the soft tissue between the joints wears down with use.
“But I’m not that old!” I exclaim. I’ve checked the data. Sixty-five is the average age for symptoms. I’m not that old.
He looks at me. At my chart, again and replies. “And you’re not that young.”
Yup. I feel so much better.
I went to the doctor yesterday to have my foot examined. I’ve been struggling with lack of sleep for the past few days. It’s been hurting so much it’s been keeping me awake.
I’ve tried ice, heat, stretching, coddling, moaning and groaning. Just about everything I could think of but mostly, I was trying to ignore it in the hopes it would just go away. Time, that wonderful healer of break-ups and other heart aches was not making it feel any better. I decided to have it looked at.
The doctor gave me a requisition for an x-ray and a prescription for an anti-inflammatory cream.
“I love this stuff!” the pharmacist exclaims as she hands me my filled prescription. “The more you rub it in, the better the absorption. The friction heats it up.” I think she might have winked as she said it. I know she was smiling. Big.
She shows me the contents of the little white jar filled with buttery yellow ointment.
“I like to rub it all over my body,” she tells me. Again with the laughter and wink. She looks at me intently. “You know at our age anything that keeps the joints running smooth is a good idea.”
I pretend to laugh with her and take the container. “Does the funny bone get arthritis?” I ask. “Because I’m not finding this part of the journey all that funny. I’m kind of finding it makes me a bit grouchy.”
“Oh don’t let it do that!” she exclaims. “Laughter really is the best medicine.”
I hobble away and leave the drugstore, climb into my car and drive home.
Beaumont greets me at the door, his entire body quivering with the joy of having someone come home.
Take me to the park! Take me to the park! he says (or so I imagine he’s saying) pushing his body up against me, tapping his head against my hands, insisting I pet him as I try to get through the door.
I’m feeling kind of sorry for myself and mostly try to ignore him.
I lay down on the bed. Rub the ointment into my foot and the excess into my hands, just the way the pharmacist told me to do.
Beaumont jumps up and lays on top of me, placing his head on my shoulder, looking at me with pleading eyes.
Okay. Okay, I tell him. We’ll go.
He leaps off the bed in one giant bound. I envy his youthful joints and energy.
I find a pair of shoes that don’t press against the sore point on my foot and we drive off to the park.
Outside in the fresh air, throwing the ball for Beau, feeling the softness of the summer evening’s breeze against my face I finally accept the truth of the pharmacist’s advice.
Laughter truly is the best medicine.
I can’t change my age, but I sure can change my attitude.
I laugh at myself, shake off my self-pity and cast it to the wind.
I throw the ball again for Beau and laugh out loud as he races in circles trying to catch it as it bounces on the grass.
Aging, I decide, is a journey best taken with a good dose of humour.