I am 41 years old. A cough and a sneeze and I’ll be 42. Some joints are a tad squeaky, nothing on my face is 100% where it used to be and the ol’ hips are like an old hammer: shiny and hollowed out from over-use. And let’s just stay away from a conversation about dêm boobs.
But I adore 41. I will adore 42. You know why? Because four days ago I was still in hospital with my shattered ancle and I shared a room in the orthopaedic ward with two other women, none of whom were under the age of 85 years.
Lady A was 85 and a retired secretary. As lovely as a yellow rose on a Spring morning. Single and loving it, she had many friends visiting and each friend was as delightful as the next. She’s quite large and hospitalised for her fifth knee replacement. That puts it at seven knees in one lifetime. My healthy ancle throbs just thinking about it.
The first time a hobbled to the bathroom on my crutches like a drunk pirate, I noticed Lady A looking at me. Are you all right dear? she asked with all the love I know she meant. I could do with a handsome, strong stranger right now, but otherwise I’m good! I replied and she giggled with large, pink cheeks. I wish I was still young enough to be that brave…she said and I made a mental note to stop any complaining.
The blood pumping in 87-year old Lady B’s veins could melt both Poles. Fiery, fierce and funny. She comes from money but you will not just wheel her into another Y-ray room, honey. Every procedure, every pill needed to be explained…I will not line the pockets of the people of this hospital unnecessarily! she would holler and Lady A and I would giggle. Carefully manicured nails and beautifully groomed grey hair rested on the pillow like it was put there by a Cosmopolitan photographer. She was there for her third hip replacement. And that was just one of many problems. Her lungs were giving her trouble too.
The first time I managed to bathe by myself was a personal triumph. I hopped out the bathroom like I won a footrace and was going to be given a fat duck for dinner. Lady B looked longingly at me and said: If only I was that young…
It’d been a while since I thought of myself as ‘young’. But in the eyes of my Ladies I was young and brave. Interesting perspective. I AM young and brave. Well, brave-ish.
I left the hospital with much love for my Ladies. And a solemn promise to myself that I will keep my body – as imperfect as it is – as healthy as I can, and appreciate every movement, every strength, every ability.
We don’t have it forever.
I still can’t get to my chococino or to a wine bottel. So more water…