More than a number

Welcome to the second installment of the MORE THAN A NUMBER blog, a blog devoted to those of us age 50+ who refuse to disappear, be overlooked, or be minimized! I’m closer to 60 than 50, and I feel just as passionate, compassionate, relevant and smart as I always was. I’m more than a number, and so are you.

In my last post, I expressed my dismay concerning my job search experience. I have worked my entire life, from age 20 on. And even though I’ve been out of the traditional workplace for more than 15 years, I’ve worked for myself, as an author, journalist and columnist. As the result of a hodgepodge of issues that rained down on our family in 2018, I decided to seek employment, once again, in the corporate world.

What an eye-opener.

For starters, Mr. Employer, don’t tell me that you don’t discriminate because of age, when you clearly asked me my birthdate on the application. Just don’t. Second, yes, I am aware that technology has changed over the years. It changes monthly -heck, weekly! But if the kid you just interviewed can understand it, I assure you that I can. Plus, I can communicate, walk without texting, and conduct a Board meeting. Don’t confuse my age with senility; I am richly experienced. That used to be considered an asset!

However, I digress. This post is about something entirely different but (I suspect) entirely familiar to you all. I’ve always been a reasonably healthy person. I was born with a few issues, as many of us were, but all in all, I’ve been pretty healthy all my life.

Then 50 hit.  Hard. Right between the eyes. It was amazing, really. It was as if my birthday triggered some cosmic chain of events that I can only describe as “my ice skates hitting dirt.” I’d always had flat feet, but now the effects of that condition were coming home to roost. Ankle pain, frequent 
“twisting” of my ankles, and worse still…knee problems. Seems the ankle bone really IS connected to the knee bone. All of my moving parts below the waist were betraying me, and laughing about it behind my back.

These betrayals led to decreased exercise, and we all know what that leads to: poor heart health and weight gain. Not things I wanted to be a part of my life, but “work through the pain” is no longer the advice we get from trainers and physicians. Seems our bodies are actually trying to tell us something when pain surfaces. They’re telling us to stop whatever it is we’re doing.

In 2012, I had three surgeries – two on the same knee, plus a hysterectomy. Four years later, I had cervical (neck) fusion surgery. Just this Monday, I went back to see my orthopedic surgeon because my left ankle is messed up again, and my right knee is hurting like crazy. Unless I learn to walk on my hands, and soon, I’m in trouble.

So the cycle begins again: X-rays (they show everything’s fine in my knee, and that I need new orthotics for my ankle), cortisone injections (not my favorite), an MRI (gonna need a second mortgage for that, thanks to all this affordable care being shoveled our way), and the outcome? Unclear. I worry that Doc will tell me he sees nothing wrong, because I know there is. Maybe he’ll tell me there is something wrong, and that another surgery looms large in my future. Or maybe he’ll order more tests, in which case we might as well go ahead and sell the house, because my medical bills are killing us. I know things could be so much worse, but these issues just remind me daily that my age is starting to show itself in ways that concern me. I’m too young to be or even feel “handicapped.” I do not want one of those blur signs to hang from my rear view mirror or, God forbid, one of those license plates that tells the world my knees and ankles are crumbling.

Well, something I have learned in my years on this spinning rock is that worry gets me absolutely nowhere, except anxious and eventually, sick. The answer is already there; we just have to discover it. As I told Doc, all I want to do is to walk the many lovely trails in my community, play with our granddaughter, play with our dogs, and garden. I have no plans to skydive or climb Kilimanjaro. Surely we can get me back there, to my 30’s and 40’s, at least with respect to pain?

What are you experiencing? Was 50 a game-changer for you? What do you think about the new health options we have, like paying exorbitant deductibles or call-in, “virtual” visits? The times, they certainly are a-changing.

Carole Townsend is an author, journalist, and columnist living in metropolitan Atlanta. She and her husband have been married for nearly 20 years, and during that time, they have raised their children and now delight in doting on their granddaughter. Through those 20 years, they have brought 6 dogs into their home and family, and they have loved every one of them well and thoroughly. When she’s not writing, gardening, cooking, or training Theo, Carole travels throughout the southeastern United States, talking to women’s and civic groups about being a woman, loving a family, and writing. Visit her at, Carole Townsend – Author (Facebook), @caroletownsend (Twitter), and @carole.w.riter (Instagram).

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