If you are under 50 you probably don’t need to read this column; yet. Go read Gail Collins and save this one for another day.
For the rest of you, how are you feeling when you wake up in the morning? Your back aching just a little after playing softball yesterday or weeding your garden? How about those knees? Are they stiffer than they were just a couple of years ago? Are you assessing the various little (and not so little) aches and pains that seemed to have appeared overnight before placing one foot on that old shag carpet?
If the above scenario describes your early morning exit from your comfortable (or not) night’s sleep, join the club. It seems like from one day to the next the body begins the process of revolting and protesting just about everything that we used to do not so long ago. Pickup basketball games or backyard volleyball used to be the norm. Try playing V-ball after a few beers today and see what your body has to say about that tomorrow morning.
It’s all a part of the aging process and it’s not the best part. We didn’t much like it when our molars came in, but we did rather like the time when we started to fill out a little bit. Then we filled out a little bit too much and that healthy mane of hair started to thin out a little; then abandon the head completely.
It’s funny how when the leaves go through a change we marvel at the magnificent colors they produce. You ever wonder if they are in excruciating pain while going through this metamorphosis. We go through physical changes without much fanfare and/or glory; just pain and plenty of it.
There are those who see this process as a good thing. They are known as the pharmaceutical industry and they have developed a pill for just about each and every little ache and pain that your body can produce. Do you have a headache? Then there is Aspirin, Advil, Tylenol, Excedrin, Aleve, Ibuprofen, and lord knows how many other brands; all of which come in a variety of strengths, and some you take at night and others during the day. If things get super tough, you can have a doctor prescribe oxycodone or codeine or morphine or whatever.
If you’ve overstuffed yourself with carbohydrates for the past 40 years (yours truly included here), and you contract diabetes there’s no need to worry. For you we have metformin, and if that doesn’t work they can give you insulin shots to supply you with needed insulin that your pancreas can’t make fast enough.
Drugs, drugs and more drugs for each and every problem from the smallest to the largest. Like vultures hovering over carrion, the drug companies are just waiting for you to reach a certain age limit. But do we really need to take this stuff just because the smiling people on TV say we do? Maybe, but perhaps there’s another option.
This past week, I slipped and fell not once, but twice. I fell once in a mudflat that wasn’t that flat and once down some stone steps on a golf course. Fortunately, I wasn’t badly hurt on either fall. I did wrench my neck twice, which resulted in a very stiff neck and sore shoulder.
Did I rush to the drug store for some pain medication? No, I stretched; a lot. Each morning I stretched for about half an hour. Before going to bed, I stretched a little more. I did break down and have my wife rub a little Tiger Balm on my shoulder, but that’s it. My neck, which was pretty darn sore on Monday, is fine today, Friday. The pain in my back from the second fall is gone. The only discomfort I have is my elbow, which helped to break the fall on the stone steps.
Some of you may recall that I was diagnosed with diabetes Type 2 back in February. Instead of taking a pill or shooting insulin into my body, I opted to fix my pancreas. I lost some weight by simply changing my diet. I eat better and as of a month or so ago I am under the limit that triggers diabetes. I’ll have it forever, but for now it’s subsided. With a little work it’ll stay that way.
I was able to do all of this without ingesting one pill made by a drug company. This is not to say that perhaps one day I may need some medication for something, but for the small things I believe that all one needs to do is to simply stretch. No, there’s no money in it for anyone, which is why you don’t hear much about it, but it works better than anything you’d pay too much money for.
There was a book written a while ago titled, "Everything I Need to Know I Learned From My Dog." A dog stretches every time it gets up in the morning and it doesn’t cost a dime.
Bob Stannard lives in Manchester.