Irreverent Mama

Saturday, December 02, 2006

"Old age is no place for sissies." - Bette Davis

The indignities of aging. Last January I damaged a disk in my back. Had it happened when I was 24, I would now be fine. Sadly, it happened when I was 44. Thus, despite weeks of physiotherapy and semi-rigourous exercising, it still causes me discomfort. It stiffens in the night - I have to be careful how I roll over in bed, and in the first hour or so after I get up I'm positively creaky. I move like someone a couple of decades older in the first hour upon waking. Thereafter I'm fine, but that first hour?

This is all leading to a story, bear with me! Further background to the story is that ever since Daniel shot out of my body in less than an hour and a half, weighing in at close to ten pounds, I've had some, er, urinary incontinence at moments of particular stress. Charming, no?

Now, put those two together. You have a woman, fresh out of bed (which is probably an appealing image to some of you, but it will get less so very shortly). A woman, as I say, fresh out of bed. Her hair is tousled, her back is stiff, her bladder full. She eases off the bed and stands carefully, then walks toward the bathroom at the end of the hall. All seems well for our heroine, until, Oh, God, she feels a sneeze coming on.

Sneezes while upright are always bad news. She has long since learned the technique to avoid embarrassment: stand still, cross the ankles, and squeeze thighs together while leaning forward very slightly. If in public, omit the crossed ankles, but instead lean against a wall or a store front, oh, so casually. Just checking out the display. Casual, inconspicuous, natural, and immobile. She does not want to deal with the result should she be so foolhardy as to try to continue walking while sneezing. Not at all.

Thing is, first thing in the morning, her back is very sensitive, and sneezes hurt. Happily, her physiotherapist has taught her a technique which protects the back from the sudden knife-stab of a sneeze. What you do, see, when a sneeze threatens that tender back is to stand upright, feet hip-width apart, push your hands against the small of your back, bend your knees slightly and arch backwards, looking skyward.

But, oh, what do you do when you need to sneeze when your bladder is full AND your back hurts? Legs together or apart? Lean forward or back? Look up or down? Pee or pain?

I will go no further in my sad tale. I will simply sum up by saying that old age - even middle age - does not allow for the squeamishness of youth. A good percentage of maturity, I think, is brought about by the very pragmatic process of losing the physical prowess that even the most physically inept have in our youth. This steady and unavoidable loss brings humility, pragmatism, emotional sturdiness, creativity, and overall character strength in its wake, I think. Oh, and a sense of humour. Definitely with the humour.



  • You. Are. My. Hero.

    By Blogger Carolie, at 10:51 a.m.  

  • Ow, poor you. Every woman will feel for you there.

    Pinching your nose hard can sometimes stave off a sneeze.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:08 a.m.  

  • Carolie - I am? Why? Well, if I become a hero because my body is falling apart in conflicting directions, I stand to have quite a few more fans as the years progress.

    z - Now, why didn't I think of that?

    By Blogger irreverentmama, at 7:39 a.m.  

  • Sorry, but from the safety of realitive youth, I am laughing at you. In fact, I think I may have peed a little.

    By Anonymous Kimberly, at 10:23 a.m.  

  • Kimberly - that's why I'm more mature than you. Relatively.

    By Blogger irreverentmama, at 12:01 p.m.  

  • That's hilarious! Not to live through I realize. I'm with you on the creaking back, though, thanks to a car accident and a couple of shovelling incidents. Thankfully, due to 2 Caesarians, no incontinence... yet. Old age may take care of that. And since I'm six years older than you, that may be sooner than you think.

    By Blogger The Wrath of Dawn, at 9:12 p.m.  

  • T-Tapp.

    I finally checked out this form of exercise after Moxie (of Ask Moxie parenting Q&A) mentioned it for the dozenth time or so, and I haven't looked back. I've had back issues off and on for years, and they've pretty well vanished.

    Even if you don't do more than the Primary Back Stretch move, it'll help with the pain. Hell, it might even help with the incontinence a smidge. The book (available wherever you like to shop) is called "Fit & Fabulous in 15 Minutes," by Teresa Tapp, and the site is

    By Blogger Allison, at 6:36 p.m.  

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