Years ago, when I sold my first novel, I bought my parents a new car, a 1985 Ford Escort. That was Dad's idea; Mom wanted the white Mustang the dealer loaned her while the Escort was being serviced. After Dad passed away, Mom decided to sell the car. She took it to a used car dealer, and it looked like she might get a decent price for it...until the dealer took it for a short test drive.
Halfway around the block, the fuel pump gave out.
That's what I've felt like in the past couple of years--like a car with a lot of miles on the odometer. The warranty has expired and now everything seems to be going wrong. After I passed fifty, this old heap was junkyard bound. First, there was the high blood pressure. Then, my cholesterol was too high. Then my thyroid stopped working. I discovered I have cataracts and glaucoma. And after so many misdiagnoses, I found myself on seizure meds (I now take two different drugs for the seizures, and seven more for everything else).
If I were a car, I'd be patched together with wire and duct tape.
To be fair, I've been epileptic since I was sixteen, but didn't think I was, because, to my knowledge, I had never had a seizure. I stopped taking the prescribed Dilantin while I was in college. Bad move on my part. Turns out there are non-convulsive seizures. They're the kind that cause hallucinations of a wide variety and really mess with concentration. Over the years, under extreme stress and without proper treatment, the seizures worsened.
But the worst sign of aging has been, for me, arthritis. There are days I can barely navigate our apartment. We don't take meals at our dining room table anymore because I can't sit in the hard chairs. Both of my knees are messed up-- sometimes I can't even bend the left leg.
I used to walk every day. I walked so often, the manager at our apartment complex remarked that I should be skinny because I was always walking.
The trouble was, those walks always ended at a restaurant. A recent study determined that if you live within walking distance of a fast food restaurant, you're forty percent more likely to end up with heart disease. We live within walking distance of 30-40 of them.
As Collin put it, "We're screwed."
Anyway, when I was told I could no longer go out alone because of the seizures (and Collin works 5-6 days each week), my daily walks came to an end and arthritis began. Now, I can't even make plans in advance for those days Collin is here because I never know how bad it's going to be on any given day. The problem has migrated to my left shoulder and elbow, and just a few days ago, the pain was such that my doctor ordered a prescription for painkillers. Just what I need. One more prescription.
Like Mom's Escort, it's become a day by day thing. At least my fuel pump still works. Sort of.
I should probably be counting my blessings. I could be comparing myself to our other old car--the one that looked like its only previous owner was a little old lady who only drove it once a week. Through downtown Baghdad.
That car lost its engine. Literally. The motor mounts rusted through and the motor fell out while we were stopped at an intersection.
I suppose it could have been worse, but I'm not sure how.