Thursday, February 3, 2011

Aging Is Just Damn Weird

Sitting in the doctor's office with my mother yesterday I was reminded of one of the reasons I hate going to the doctor with my mother. She's developed this...thing...she does which is so unlike her.
She gets a running commentary going on the other people in the waiting room and talks about them in a normal tone of voice as if we are in the sacred bubble of silence and no one can hear her but me.

She comments on weight, mostly. "Now see- if I were that big, I'd understand why my knees hurt so much. See that black woman?"

And my mother has never been a racist. Ever. So why she feels the need to point out not only someone's weight but also their race is beyond me.
It's so odd. She even said that her doctor, whom she hasn't met yet, is probably a "little Chinese man" because his name is Wong. Okay. Chinese I get. But little?
I finally turned to her yesterday and put my finger in front of my lips in the shh way and she did, in fact shush but, Lord.

So after about an hour and a half of waiting to see the doctor's PA, we were finally ushered back to the room and the PA came in and he was one of those agitato people. He bounced his legs a lot and so forth. My mother asked me, thankfully after he left the room, if he could perhaps have that disease that that movie star has. She was talking about Michael J. Fox and Parkinson's. I assured her that no, I did not think he had Parkinson's, but that he was just a jumpy sort of guy.

The PA looked at her X-Rays and pronounced them fine. "I hope my knees look like this when I'm 83," he said. But of course, she really is in pain and so they have to figure out why. She's going to get an MRI of her knees and perhaps there's some torn cartilage they can repair with orthoscopic surgery which is far less invasive than knee replacements. And although she's a tiny bit relieved that she doesn't have to go through the whole replacement surgery and rehab process, she also mentioned several times that she's a little bit embarrassed that she's told everyone that she's getting two knee replacements and now she's not.
Sort of like she'd told everyone she was getting a new car but now she's not.

Well, I tell you, getting old doesn't look like one damn bit of fun to me. It looks painful and somewhat bizarre. It was, in fact, a bizarre and somewhat painful three hours just observing it. When we were leaving the office, there was one of those hi-tech walkers on wheels with brakes and everything and I said, "Mom, you need one of these."
There was a man standing there in scrubs and I don't know what the hell his job was. Probably to help lift people or something and he said, "M'am, as long as your mother has her mobility, don't try to encourage her to use something that will limit it."

I thought about this for a second.

"The problem is," I told him, "Her mobility is limited and if she had a walker, she could get around more easily and do more outside of her house."

She's constantly afraid of falling, needs an arm to help balance her, and a walker would fucking well help and this dude had no idea what he was talking about and he realized that and apologized.
He said that his mother insists on being in a wheelchair and so her muscles are going to atrophy.

"How old is your mother?" my mother asked him.
"Seventy-four," he said.
"Well I'm eight-three!" she told him and we toddled on down the hall to the check-out window.

Thankfully, she did not ask if his mother was fat. Also, she did not ask him if she was black. I was waiting for that, but it didn't happen.

I drove her home and helped her into the house and reminded her to turn off the security system. She thanked me and pointed out that she is parking her car nose-out now so that the sun will beat down on the side that is not faded in hopes that it will now fade into a more even shade all over.

"Good idea!" I said and got back in my car and drove off, feeling as if I'd been released from school for the summer and call me a bad daughter, it's okay. I am.

I can't wait for the MRI appointment. They have a really big waiting room and there will be lots of people with all sorts of obvious physical characteristics for her to comment on.

That'll be a lot of fun. I'll keep you posted.


  1. You succeeded in writing about old people and a waiting room scenario so well and with good humor that I am really chuckling over here. Chuckling cuz it is so true, so typical and I have seen it.
    Maybe the worker was a physical therapist, with that point of view of seeing limbs that need to be used, but should have clarified his statement better by explaining that personally he has seen his mother, who used to get around very well, etc.
    My 88 yr old grandmother tripped on the sidewalk outside, broke her hip, recovered, but relies physically too much on her walker, but for emotional reasons it is understandable.

  2. What DTG said. What is it with old women that makes them think no one can hear them talking about other people? My mother in law does that. She stared at a woman who had a stroke and remarked not unquietly God if that ever happens to me I hope I die. I don't want to live looking like that. I was flabbergasted and finally asked if she thought the woman lost her hearing too, because I'm sure she heard. Her world, as she has gotten older, has become less about everything and all about her. She quit recycling because it was too much trouble, and I asked why not do it for your grandkids, they have to live in this world? She said what do I care, I'll be pushing up daisies.
    No, I don't want to be old. It is bizarre and unnerving.
    Hopefully, your mom can get some relief with the lesser surgery. And you will be less committed to helping with the rehab.
    Have a good day.

  3. maybe your Mom can speak to her primary care doctor about a walker. Sounds reasonable to me if she's already leaning on stuff and at risk for a fall.


    worth a shot!

  4. Bring Suduko. And very chewy toffees.

    A walker is a good thing, I think. The ones you can stop and sit down on?

    It'll be good news if she doesn't have to have replacemnts, I'm sure. Best of luck.

  5. Sounds like your mother has a touch of the 'old timers,' - the self censoring feature of the brain is one of the first things to go.
    Yeah, maybe she just needs a miniscus repair, like I had in December. Problem is: any surgery requiring anasthesia on someone her age is risky.
    Lucy, without her password...

  6. You know, my mom used to do that "sacred bubble" thing and it drove me INSANE!!! She did it at weddings, restaurants, wherever! YIKES! But now that I think of it, my mom never really had good filters period, so...

    Anyway, you survived, you are released and the crazy long process of replacing knees is not happening! Thank goodness you were around to tell the medical staff she was not having a heart attack that time she checked herself in! See, you are a good daughter. :-)

  7. This made me chuckle, probably because I can relate :)

  8. First off survived yesterday. I can relate when you said

    "...feeling as if I'd been released from school for the summer and call me a bad daughter, it's okay. I am."


    My dear MIL as she has aged is oblivious to the comments she makes now that she would have NEVER have done before. Not to mention all that she won't do that is aging her more. At what point do we (her family) have a say in them taking care of themselves? Ever?

    And Mel...yep I loved her comment. Bravo for saying what she did to her MIL.

    I am going to try REALLY hard to age like my almost 99 year old friend. My mentor...she is a lady through and through.

  9. I'm relieved for you both that the replacements aren't necessary.
    The other stuff.. ouch.

  10. DTG- Exactly. I can't wait until I start doing that. Just tell me to shut the fuck up, Mom. Do it.
    I'll appreciate it.

    Ms. Bastard-Beloved- I know. Poor me. Haha!

    Michele R- Yes. The walker is always there to lean on, physically and mentally. In some cases, this is a good thing.

    Mel- I guess it's part of the dementia or whatever. It sure is uncomfortable. And it's hard to tell your mother to shut up.

    Mrs. Hall- She doesn't want one. Eventually, I think she might.

    Jo- Thanks. Sometimes, I wish I had a portable place to sit down.

    Lucy- I think you're right because this is not like her at all.
    Believe me- she's strong enough to survive surgery.

    Ms. Fleur- I try but I do not really succeed.

    Perovskia- I think a lot of us can.

    Ellen- I hope for that for all of us. I do.

    Lora- Yeah. It's cringe-inducing for sure.

    deb C- I think the fun has just begun.

  11. wait WHAT? she is at risk for falling, FEARS falling, needs an arm to lean on. . . . and she DOESN'T want to try a walker?

    I suppose, maybe it's a matter of pride for her.

    Either way, I am TOTALLY going to be one of those old biddies that lack the outward filter. In fact, I have a bit of a problem with that now. Not in a mean way, but more of a commentary way like, "I really like her yellow shirt, it's a very pleasing color." Or, "I like her dog, little yorkies are the cutest!"


    good luck :)

  12. My mom does this sometimes too, in the waiting rooms. Like nobody can hear her but me. And she's not deaf. So this story made me laugh. But I AM glad, for you and for her, that she doesn't need knee replacements. A mercy for you both. And you seem like a pretty good daughter to me...

    P.S. I'm so glad about Kathleen's news and so very sorry about your friend Colin.

  13. While reading this I kept saying, "Yes! Yes! THAT!"
    My grandma does the same thing. Let's point out everything about everyone as if they can't hear us.

    Oy vey.

    Also, I loved the part about parking her car the opposite way in hopes to even out the fade - hilarious.

  14. My mom has one of those walkers with the wheels and brakes and they give her such a sense of security that she is willing to walk places and she would have been too afraid of falling before. it doesn't limit mobility. It enhances it. Gets them moving more. And it has a little storage basket and a seat and everything. It made a huge difference in my mom's quality of life.

    Glad your mom won't need knee replacements--especially glad that you will be spared the recovery process! As for the rest of it, just exhale. She's going to be who she is, and all you can do is gently put your finger across your lips as you did, and that seemed to work out nicely. You are a good daughter.

  15. I'm with downtown guy -- Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.

  16. Lord save us Miss Davis! (As my mom used to say.) That finger shushing was the best choice in that situation. Thank heavens she is not so far gone that she loudly reacted to that. You did a good job with your mom. Give yourself credit. x0 N2

  17. :) DTG +1

    I have to admit, this made me giggle out-loud in a couple of spots. You are very funny, Ms. Moon.

  18. One minute I'm giggling the next minute I'm cringing and through it all I just feel relief that I now am on endless summer vacation.

    This bad daughter loves you to pieces, Ms Moon


  19. Mrs. Hall- Yes. Pride. She did get a cane but I haven't seen it yet. In use or otherwise.
    And I have no filters for certain things but when it comes to race and weight- yes. I do.

    Leslie- Well, I guess it's a sign of old age then, if all these mothers and MIL's are doing it. Great. Something else to look forward to going through myself. Shit.
    Thanks for your kind words.

    notjustafemme- I thought that was pretty clever of her, actually. Cheaper than getting it painted.

    Angella- Yep. No changing her now. Thanks and I think a walker would be a very good thing for her.

    Elizabeth- Yes. Lord help us.

    N2- I was worried she would but instead she just sort of looked at me like, "What?" and then she did get quiet.

    Nicol- I like to be funny. I wish I was pretty like you, though.

    Michelle- Well said, love. Thanks.

  20. you know, in a wierd way I found this post really comforting. I'm currently going thru "my parents may be about to die" fears (groundless, its just hysterical worrying).

    The idea that when my Mum is 83, I'll be...57...and probably still being driven mad by so great. I hope I'm still being driven a little bit mad by her at that age. at least she'll still be know?

  21. You're beautiful inside and out. :)And, funny to boot.

  22. I told my coworkers today about her calling you and saying, "Hello Mary, It's your daughter!" and you saying, "No mom, it's my mother" which I don't even know if that is what you say but they all found it hilarious. And crazy. "Does your grandmother have alzheimers?" they asked. "No," I said, "she just thinks it's funny." Alex said it was not that funny.
    I love you, Mama. You are a good daughter, you really are.

  23. My mother did the same thing, thinking that people could not hear what she was saying. More than once I told her to hush. But she was autocratic and aristocratic and let others know that. I hope that I keep some humility when I am old.


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