We have seen the future

May 15, 2010

“I am so tired of people being sick,
I’m afraid it’s just the future.”

“I don’t like this, aging and being sick all the time,
one thing after another.”

Two girlfriends said or wrote this to me within an hour of each other. One is in her 50s and the other 70.

These are things that have happened to people we know:

  • Cancer, and lots of it, sometimes same person, two different kinds in only two years.
  • Serious heart problems, a variety of them
  • Colon issues.
  • Immune system deficiencies
  • Thyroid problems: too much, too little
  • More and worse migraines
  • Aneurysm
  • Debilitating back injuries
  • Falls with broken bones
  • Bronchial problems
  • Recurrence of polio
  • Hypertension
  • Tinnitus and hearing loss

When we were younger, these ailments rarely happened to our peer group. But now, in our middle to senior years, it’s good health that seems the exception.

Young people today are lucky. So much more is known about the impact of lifestyle on health, and there’s plenty of time to make changes that will support a more disease-free older age.

More important, healthy living tips and suggestions are ubiqutous. Even health insurance companies are on the bandwagon, even if it IS in their own self-interest.

Times have certainly changed.

When we were young, the evils of smoking were just beginning to be known, and tobacco companies were going out of their way to disseminate counter-messages. They did so very effectively, too.

When we were young, going to the gym regularly was the exception rather than the rule. Organic food was for people living in communes, and besides, it was hard to find. Discarding our toxins and waste into rivers and lakes was done without thought of any consequences to the flora and fauna, much less people.

Times have changed.

While it’s never too late to make lifestyle changes, it may be too late to get a whole bunch more quality of life (or even more life) out of those changes. What’s done is done.

For the boomer generation and above, it’s now all about getting the diagnostic tests in time to save our own lives. Making sure we’ve had our colonoscopy, our mammogram and our Pap test; our bone density scan, our EKG and our mole check. A flu shot, pneumonia shot, hepatitis shot.

Now, we’re more attuned to our symptoms than ever before. Is that headache an aneurysm in the making or just a migraine? What does that constant cough mean? Is that heartburn GERD or a heart attack?

If we’re in retirement, we have fewer distractions and more time to obsess about every little ache and pain.

And we spend more time saying “I’m so sorry, what can I do to help?” to friends who have been diagnosed with serious ailments.

And buying sympathy cards.

Yes, I’m sorry to say that we have seen the future, and it is us.

3 comments on “We have seen the future
  1. Diana Strinati Baur says:

    I know. It’s so true. The past couple of years have been doozies with all of the illness we have been surrounded with. We are really, truly grateful for every single healthy moment.

  2. cybill says:

    Its heartbreaking when things get like this. My friends mother-in-law (in her late 60’s) has turned her health into her hobby as she as aged. It seems that all she does is speculate what her ailments mean and go on doctors visits – she seems to enjoy it?!

  3. Very impactful post. It is so true that we knew very little during our formative years (and our body’s “banking for the future” years). We used to play with quicksilver and stand with our little feet in X-ray machines in the shoe stores. I sometimes wonder if all these things are catching up on us. As one biochemist puts it, “Aging is the primary cause of death.” He wasn’t being funny. He was saying that all the “aging” we are seeing is really disease as so few people live out their lifespan healthily due to ignorance and poor choices (or poverty).

    That said, we can turn the clock around at any age by making lifestyle choices, CR (calorie restriction) being one of them. I hate that term “restriction” as it really isn’t.

    Cybill, I had such a laugh over your comment. Oh dear… bless her. R x

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