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I turned 40 this past summer, and so now feel that I am properly ageing. I didn’t go through any of the midlife crisis type stuff that some of my friends did. Indeed, having suffered from poor health most of my life, I feel that people are finally catching up to me. Most of what’s happened, health-wise at least, for me of late has been that I am on the receiving end of emails in which my friends explain how they never really understood what having a bad back was like. Until now. Much in the way of comiserations were sent. Along with a few moments wherein people asked how in the world I’d managed to carry on for so long.

I’m not saying that I felt vindicated as such, but rather that I took some pleasure in knowing that people finally understood why I was less than keen about the idea of going out to a bar where I would have to remain standing.

And what with The Mom’s recent spate of health-related issues, I’ve been feeling, as usual, older than my 40 years. And I may have got a glimpse of what things will be like when The Mom is properly ensconced in her dotage. They say that roles are reversed, and the child takes care of the parent. Well, L’il Sis and I have been doing rather a lot of that lately.

She and I are familiar with doctors and all their infernal and irritating tests. All the poking and prodding that comes with getting a diagnosis, starting a treatment programme, and then tweaking it so that it actually works. A process which takes, as far as I’m concerned, years and years and years.

So as The Mom had been worrying about all her tests, it has fallen to me and L’il Sis to calm her down and reassure her. Not that we’ve had tests for similar ailments, in fact, she and I have blood pressure so low sometimes I wonder if we’re halfway into hibernation. But, we have both been diagnosed with annoying and painful diseases, our disease in common is arthritis.

Which The Mom now has too. But only a mere whiff of it compared to us. Truly. It’s in her fingers, or her feet. As opposed to her spine and hips. She goes to the doctor and moans that everyone in the waiting room is old and sickly. Which is true, but imagine sitting in that same waiting room when you’re 19 years of age. Exactly.

The Mom has taken to bemoaning her state of ill-health, and I would not begrudge her a bit of moaning. Perfectly reasonable. What I keep trying to point out, with varying levels of success is that these diseases, being chronic, are not death sentences, or some kind of foreboding of what’s to come. They’re just another thing to add to the never ending list of annoying problems that happen in life.

As anyone else struggling with a chronic disease will tell you, the most annoying part is the chronic bit. When they tell you it’s a chronic disease, basically what they’re saying is, Hey! You’ve got a new friend! Diabetes/hypertension/arhtiris will be with you from now on, so you’ll never be lonely again!

Myself, I prefer to carry my diseases about me as though they were some kind of annoying vestigial tail that I have been burdened with. They’re not going to kill me, just make me tired and cranky. I’m not wishing I’d get something more acute and deathly, just pointing out that chronic things take their toll by way of attrition: they bore you to death with the same symptoms, day in and day out. It’s like a miserable marriage you can’t get out of.

The Mom likens this to her age. That she’s suffering these things because her body is winding down. I believe no such thing. Rather, I’m convinced that her streak of good luck has run its course and she’s like the rest of us now: a bit rough around the edges.

It’s tricky to try and tell her that, post-diagnosis, you just get used to things and carry on because she’s upset and I was diagnosed so long ago, I barely remember how upset I was at first.

The only words of wisdom I can offer are that compared with most people her age, The Mom is in frighteningly good health. WE should all be so lucky.

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