I have written before about my on-going battle with a prostate that the specialist described as ‘a beast’. (It was actually the subject of a very early post – here – and part of the reason I started this whole little miscellanea.) For the vast majority of the time it does not impact negatively on my life at all: it just sits there, quietly biding its time until it decides that the moment is right to sit up and shout ‘Don’t forget me. I’m here!’ It is the reason, however, that when I’m out and about I seldom walk past a public toilet without paying a ‘just in case’ visit, as I am acutely aware that if I don’t it might just bang its drum before I get to the next one. It’s ok. I take medication that appears to have no effect at all, until I forget to take it. I’m completely fine almost all of the time, but I cannot support a full bladder. If ever I am faced with a full bladder – can I actually ever claim to be faced with a full bladder, particularly my own? – I would be forced to accept one of the two options available to me in such a circumstance: a) be unable to find a public lavatory and widdle down the first available tree or b) find a public lavatory and find that I no longer seem to need it. I’m not overly keen on either alternative, so maintaining some vacant capacity in the system is by far the most sensible option available to me.
As I now have a new associated ‘issue’, linked to ‘the beast’, I have been summoned to the hospital for tests. These tests rely upon me having a really full bladder and – most pertinently – ‘May be subject to considerable delay’, which means that I, once again, am faced with two options: a) attend with a full bladder that will have to be emptied with undue haste if I am over thirty seconds late in being called¹ or b) attend with a bottle of water and an empty bladder that will still have to be emptied seconds after I have emptied the bottle. I cannot do what they need me to do in order to test me, as that is why they have to test me in the first place.
I should state, here and now, that in reality I am fine. 99.9% of the time I have no problems of any kind other than those that would have to be described as ‘age related’: I ache; I moan; I spend half of my life lamenting that ‘fings ain’t wot they used to be’; my arches could not fall any further without somebody being there to raise the rest of my foot; my gums could not receded further without coming out of my nose; my nasal hair could not get longer without requiring a fringe. My jowls have jowls, my chins have chins. My teeth have developed a disturbing tendency to look like teak in certain lights. I must use my own weight in tooth-whitening gunk if I am not to look like a betel-chewing heroin addict who drinks wood dye for kicks. And I know, I realise, that all of the above (and many, many more) are the natural consequences of growing old which, as the tag-line for this little blog of mine suggests, is far preferable to the possibility of not doing so. None-the-less, it doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t prefer a life without them. I understand when people say that growing old is a privilege. For other people it probably is. For most of us it is shit. The realisation that everything you are is not quite what once it was, is not a comforting one. The knowledge that it can only get worse, even less so. Half deaf, half blind, half incontinent and half-witted… Oh, hang on.
So, I ask myself, ‘What is there left to look forward to?’ and the answer is ‘Everything’, because whatever it is, it is all that there is and that is the point at which I begin to find joy in almost everything I do. OK, there’s not much joy to be had in ramming my hand down the ‘U-bend’, but there is satisfaction to be found in the gurgling sound that announces the dispersal of the whatever-it-was – don’t even dare to think about it – that was blocking it in the first place. There is no fun to be found in D.I.Y – some people claim that there is, but they are clinically insane – but there is pride to be found in a shelf that can bear weight without falling from the wall and decapitating the cat. There is little satisfaction in tidying up the house after the grandkids have gone home, but there is delight in making the mess with them in the first place. I am fortunate, I don’t need to work these days, and consequently I find that I enjoy almost every minute of it. I have deliberately eschewed as much pressure as I am able and I am – even for myself – better company for it. Even with a full bladder…
I probably ought to point out here that I do not, in reality, have incontinence issues. My problem arises only if I make the stupid mistake of thinking about it – e.g. the simple query ‘Where’s the nearest public lavatory’ accompanied with the certain knowledge that it is a decent car journey away – when the threat of it hangs over me like an unfortunately apposite wet blanket.
¹This, by the way, is most definitely a mental thing. If my mind is otherwise occupied, I can go for days. If, however, I deliberately try to occupy my mind, it merely serves to remind me of why I am trying to distract myself and the panic kicks in. If you have any suggestions that do not involve ‘growing up’, I would be very happy to hear them.
I probably will not use this post as my profile for on-line dating sites.