Not to bury the lead – today’s my birthday. I’m 39 years old.
This week has been interesting for me. In addition to the usual daily fodder Mo had to go in to the doctor to have retinal tears repaired.
Mo is terribly near-sighted. He’s had glasses since he was a year or so above Conor’s age (at least since he was 6). His eyes are so misshapen to correct his vision the lenses in his glasses resemble this:
Kidding aside, the lenses are so thick that he is limited to very few glasses frames because the curvature of the lens is so drastic they are too thick to attach to the arms of the frames. Inside Mo’s eye the same force is being applied to his retina itself – and let’s face it “something’s gotta give”.
What happens when you get a retinal tear? Floaters. Little dots and lines that pass in your field of vision (look at a blank wall or white screen and let your vision get fuzzy – see any black/gray lines drifting around? those are Floaters). Lots of people have Floaters, it’s not necessarily a bad thing or something you have to “fix”. But when they get out of control or you have pain in your eyes – get in to see an opthalmologist (retinal tears can lead to detached retinas and those can lead to permanent damage or vision loss!) For a full explanation of retinal tears click here or here or here.
Mo had retinal tears the last time he was in flare (2007), and it may just be coincidence, but he got them again now that his Dermatomyositis is in flare again.
The eye doctors don’t know if myositis is involved, and his myositis docs don’t know enough about the eye to know if myositis aggravates tears. There is ocular/orbital myositis, click here – but that is something entirely different. So we just have to guess if it’s Mo’s near-sightedness or the flares that cause his eyes to go all wacky.
Sitting in the opthalmologist’s office we were surrounded by senior citizens. Cute little old couples shuffled in and out of their appointments. Many had hired caregivers or family members filling out their medical forms. The receptionists and nurses spoke/shouted in loud slow voices for those hard of hearing. And then it hit me – we are OLD.
Like I said, I’m 39 years old today. Mo will be 49 on May 30th. By all accounts those are NOT ancient ages, we are afterall what is considered “middle age” (average life expentancy in the US is 79.8, ranking 38th eldest nation – click here to see national mortality).
Our visit to the opthalmologist brought things clearly into view for me just as much as Mo – this isn’t just our life to come… this is our life.
Our experiences — disease and injury — have aged us beyond our years. We may not look old, but we feel old.
We act old.
We have more in common with people thirty years our senior than people ten years our junior.
And well, that’s just depressing.