So there I was, minding my own business, living my best life when all of a sudden this old guy snuck up behind me and took over my body. I don’t think I can kick him out, either. Maybe some day, but it will probably be fatal. Tis a bother.
You may find I will be harping a bit on this subject. You see, I’ve never been this old before and I’m learning how to be a senior, or an old fart. I’m not used to it. I find it interesting that I look far older in pictures than I do in the mirror. Why is that? (Don’t answer; it’s rhetorical.)
I’ve heard it said many times that growing old is not for the faint of heart. This past Sunday I had an experience that brought that saying home. It was hardly the first time I’ve experienced something that threatened my health or slapped me upside the head with my mortality, but it was sufficiently different that it definitely got my attention.
My wife had decided to make homemade shrimp/pork wontons. She had spent some time getting all the ingredients for the filling and our daughters and I had filled and formed a little over 50 wrappers. We decided to cook them outside on the side burner of our Weber Silver-C gas grill, using a cast iron dutch over and peanut oil. I wasn’t quite sure it would get hot enough, but it definitely did. In fact, no sooner did I start deep frying then I had to turn the flame down a bit.
I was only able to fry four or five at a time, so it took a while and I was standing still for the entire time, using metal tongs to flip the wontons over so they would cook the meat, veggies, and seasonings thoroughly without burning the wrapper. During that time I barely moved a thing other than my arms and hands.
The tops of my feet had been feeling a little strange for the past couple of days, but I hadn’t paid really close attention to them. I finished and went inside, sat down, and enjoyed our meal with the family. Shortly after I finished eating, I happened to look at my feet, as they really were feeling weird. To my horror, not only were my feet swollen, but my ankles were as well. Where I could normally see tendons and veins, there was nothing but stretched out skin.
I recalled this was a symptom of possible congestive heart failure and I know I have a history of moderately high blood pressure and two years ago was also diagnosed with atherosclerosis of the aorta. I was concerned. My first response was to ensure I drastically limited my salt intake and I decided to see how I did after a night’s sleep.
When I woke up the next morning, my feet were a little less swollen. I sent a message to my doctor and am awaiting a response. I really hate the term, mostly because it’s used so frequently by anti-vaxxers and science deniers, but yesterday I decided to do some of my own research. As a result, in addition to limiting my salt intake (something I wasn’t being careful enough about) I wore a pair of knee-high socks to bed and placed a couple of pillows at my feet to elevate them over my heart.
When I awoke this morning, the first thing I did was remove the socks to look at my feet. To my relief, they had pretty much returned to normal. I could see all the tendons and veins that normally stood out rather conspicuously. I’m still waiting for my doctor and will consult with him, but I think I have a fairly good idea of what I need to do to ensure this doesn’t happen again. This is definitely not something to ignore or sweep under the rug. The body does not heal or remain healthy by ignoring what it’s telling you and this was a cry to do something different. That I will!
PS – The condition I experienced is called edema. As a result of looking into it and posting something about it on Facebook, I learned the adjective form of the word, which is edematous.
This was my first week running the business I’ve been working at for nearly eight months. The owner had to return to England with his family to renew their visas and for him to take care of some family business.
It wasn’t a surprise. He had asked me early on if I was prepared to do it and I told him I would be happy to. Today was fairly slow, but the guy who’s been helping me out—and who I’m training to replace me when I get a job more suitable to my skills—decided not to come in.
I had to do a bit more than I expected to and by the end of the day I was whipped. I don’t generally have any problems doing the physical work I have to accomplish each day, but I ain’t no spring chicken and some days I really do feel my age. Today was one of them.
Going to bed early so I have the best chance of getting a refreshing night’s sleep. It will be another two and a half weeks before the boss returns. Fortunately, there are cell phones, texting, and email.
My buddy, Steve, treated me to a screening of Top Gun Maverick on Saturday for my birthday. Ironically, a day or two earlier, in response to a question posed on Twitter asking what fictional death affected me, I commented with a pic of Anthony Edwards as “Goose.” There have been quite a few, but his death in Top Gun really tore me up.
I’m hardly a movie critic, but I’ll offer this. My Fitbit HR5 measures my heart rate (among other things) and “awards” me points for a couple different levels of exertion. Although I was sitting still the entire movie, except for the occasional gulping of beer or munching of buttered popcorn, my tracker recorded about 50 minutes of an elevated heart rate. Make what you will of that.
I recommend the movie, but don’t listen to me. I’m a sucker for fast planes and dogfights — and vicarious emotional scarring.
Last Thursday (April 28, 2022) I left work a little early to get my second Moderna Booster shot. The nurse who administered the dose told me the 15-minute waiting period that had been observed for all three previous inoculations was no longer mandatory and I chose to go straight home. I only live a couple of minutes away from the Kaiser location here in my home town of Simi Valley, CA., and I have never had a sudden, bad reaction from any vaccine in my nearly 75 years.
I enjoyed the rest of the day, slept well (my Fitbit tracker and app noted I slept well, giving me a score of 82, which is good, not excellent) and got up at 6:00 am to head off to work. I was fine until about noon, when my body started to ache a little I attributed it to the rather heavy packages I had assembled and loaded into a container to be picked up that afternoon by the USPS. I didn’t think too much of it, though I worried I may have injured myself in a way that would preclude my being able to do my job.
I began feeling uncharacteristically lethargic and my legs felt a little rubbery. Finally, after completing some tasks that needed doing, regardless of how I was feeling, I chose to come home early. When I arrived I was beginning to feel pretty bad, but I still didn’t connect it to the booster I had received the previous day. Friday evenings are normally reserved for a short trip to the gym, then an evening of dinner and craft beer with a couple of friends.
I decided to do something I hardly ever do; take a nap in the afternoon. By 6:30, a half hour before I normally go to the gym, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to make it and texted my friend and former colleague to let him know I wouldn’t be making it that night. I went back to sleep and, according to my Fitbit, slept for close to twelve hours.
Yesterday was absolutely miserable. I experienced both the chills and cold sweats. I was at times dizzy, nauseous, and had no appetite at all. At one point I experienced a strong sense of dizziness, despite my being nearly asleep and horizontal. When I opened my eyes, the room was shifting back and forth as though I was looking quickly from side-to-side, yet I don’t think my eyes were moving. It was one of the strangest feelings I’ve ever had and I couldn’t help thinking it was a precursor to something I did not want to experience.
My wife, bless her heart, kept trying to get me to eat, but I wasn’t having it. I think I really pissed her off by asking her to leave me alone, that I would eat when my appetite returned. I can understand her worry, as I had slept nearly twelve hours Friday night and hadn’t eaten dinner. I ended up eating nothing all day yesterday and, after sleeping over nine hours last night, I finally had a half cup of coffee, a mini baguette, and a bowl of salad a few minutes ago. I’m still a bit nauseous and still experience dizziness, but it’s subsiding with each passing hour.
I finally got up this morning and am sitting at my laptop in my home office. I was able to do my daily bookkeeping, something I wasn’t the least bit interested in yesterday. I’m also taking the time to record my experience here. My youngest daughter, after asking me how I felt today, asked if I regretted getting the second booster, as I had no reaction from the first one. I told her I regretted that it knocked me down, but not that I received it.
I was diagnosed with Covid-19 on December 29, 2020 and spent the first week of 2021 quarantined in bed, miserable as can be – but I didn’t require hospitalization despite my age and numerous comorbidities. I received my first and second doses of the Moderna vaccine on 3/22/21 and 4/19/21, which was as soon as they were available. I experienced some discomfort and flu-like symptoms both times, but they only lasted a day. When I received the first booster on 11/24/21 I experienced nothing I would consider a side-effect.
I think what happened has to do with how hard I worked on Friday. With all three previous vaccines I was not working and was able to either stay home or stay in bed and was in no way exerting myself for a day or two. This time, however, I was at work climbing, lifting, and walking far more than I was doing before. I’m thinking all that extra effort sped up the internal distribution of the vaccine in my body, and it reacted in a way that I had not truly experienced before.
I plan on getting up tomorrow at 6:00 am and heading off to work. Monday is generally our busiest day and I’ll have lots of lifting and climbing to do. I think I’ll be up to it. That weird-ass feeling I had with my vision happened a couple more times yesterday, but it seems to have subsided. I look forward to discussing it with my doctor when the opportunity arises.
I posted the following to LinkedIn two days ago. It was the first time I’ve posted there in approximately two years. I was very apprehensive about sharing some of these personal details on the site, as I’ve always used it strictly for business, but I felt it necessary to explain to my over 1300 connections where I’ve been for the last two years. I’m gratified to be able to say it was more than well received and I am now jumping back into the fray as carefully (and delicately) as possible.
Hey everybody. Well, at least the people who know me and, perhaps, have wondered where I’ve been. Two years ago, my youngest daughter announced she wanted to drop out of school. She was a sophomore in high school at the time.
Needless to say, I dropped everything I was doing and concentrated on helping her deal with the issues that were causing her to feel like giving up was the best course of action. As an older, internationally adopted toddler, she was saddled with some difficult learning issues and has struggled to get through her classes. Fortunately, she has an IEP (Individualized Education Program) which allows her teachers and the school to take those issues into consideration.
She is now a senior and is attending a school that is an independent learning academy. During the pandemic lock-down of our local schools, she thrived working at home. She has a problem with other children and having to work with dozens surrounding her has always been a challenge.
Her new school, coupled with a new medication for depression she started taking (and which seems to be working) has tamped down her anxiety, which means I’m not living moment-to-moment awaiting her next trauma and having to deal with it.
So – I’m just coming up for air after two years of trauma, exacerbated by the pandemic and my having been infected with Covid at the beginning of this year. I am still experiencing some long-haul symptoms, but am doing remarkable well for someone my age, with my comorbidities.
I may not be fully functional until next June, when she graduates (God willing and the creek don’t rise,) but I’m working on it and will be spending more time on LinkedIn as I seek a few clients/gigs. I’m deeply thankful I was in a position to spend as much time as I have with her, but I’m really looking forward to having more time to spend on myself and my continuing desire to be useful to others.
I’ve been following the inexorable path of this pandemic since the very beginning, primarily through Worldometer’s website located here. In early 2020, I was paying really close attention as the casualties mounted. I was recording the figures into a spreadsheet and plotting a graph of how deaths and infections were growing.
Sometime toward the end of the Summer I gave up; I had other things to do and the pandemic seemed to be waning. That was just before the Fall and Winter spike really ran up the numbers. Even then I didn’t return to recording and plotting. I decided to leave that to others as I was merely replicating what several organizations were already doing, and my desire to be able to pore over the data wasn’t enough to justify the time it would have taken.
On December 29, 2020 I tested positive for Covid-19 and spent the next ten days both quarantined in my bedroom and miserable with the virus. I came close to going to the hospital but, thankfully, it didn’t happen and I recovered. I am now fully vaccinated (Team Moderna) and have fully recovered, with the exception of a couple of “long-haul” symptoms: occasional fatigue; loss of smell (it returns intermittently); some brain fog … which is maddening but seems to be subsiding with time.
Through this time, I’ve continued to monitor the ebb and flow of this virus and its movement through the country. One thing that’s always struck me as odd is how the numbers really go down on the weekends. I’m pretty sure this is more an artifact of reporting, e.g. how many admin staff are home for the weekend, etc., but if you look at the graph (above) you can see a consistent drop in reported cases and deaths each and every weekend.
It’s almost as if the Grim Reaper doesn’t exactly take the day off, but certainly puts the brakes on every Saturday and Sunday. Maybe people are so accustomed to relaxing on the weekend that even the gravely ill manage to hang on through those days just out of habit. I know that being calm and taking care of business played a significant role in my recover. I was “lucky” in that I have dealt with lung issues most of my life, so I was closely attuned to what was happening to me and was able to relax and allow my body’s natural defenses to take over.
As the above graph clearly shows, we’re on the way down again, but I’m somewhat apprehensive that we’re going to see another spike as the weather cools down and people start spending more time indoors. I hope I’m wrong, but history seems to want to tell a different story than we’d all prefer was the case.
I started writing this post a couple weeks prior to my 74th birthday. Then all hell broke loose with my younger daughter and I had to drop just about everything I was doing and work diligently with her. The issues remain and we’re still figuring out how best to deal with these newly surfaced problems, but I’m finally getting back to writing and posting here. The next four paragraphs were written in May. The rest was written today. If some of it seems a bit disjointed, it’s likely because I forgot exactly the point I was trying to make and have added a bit of speculation and a conclusion that may not track as well as they could. C’est la vie!
You’d think a man my age wouldn’t be paying close enough attention to approaching birthdays all that much and, for the most part, that may be true. It’s not like I’m obsessed with my birthday. There was at least one year where I completely forgot about it until my mother asked what I was planning. Many others have passed that weren’t all that important or memorable. But something has changed … very recently. I’m realizing the prism through which I view the world has tilted a bit. This tilt is primarily a result of my age and what it means for me as an individual and as a functioning member of society.
I’ve been giving it a little thought and I believe I understand the dynamics of what’s happening. When we’re young—and even into our 40s, maybe 50s—we’re generally looking forward to improving our lot professionally or with respect to how we make our living. Usually, with age and experience come greater responsibility and authority, as well as increased income and growing benefits … if you’re lucky. Once you reach retirement age, things begin to change. Suddenly opportunities aren’t as easy to come by. Advancement may even stop, with the exception of very few positions, which are reserved for only a few.
In most of the world age and wisdom are revered. The elderly are respected for their accumulated experience and knowledge. In the United States of America, that just isn’t the case. We are a society enamored of youth and derisive of age. We tend to toss people aside once they reach around 65 years of age; the deadline we’ve set for determining retirement eligibility. I’m way beyond that, but I’m just beginning to realize the changes I need to make in my thinking in order to smooth out my final chapters.
When I was in my thirties I came to the conclusion the only thing I was truly interested in achieving was wisdom. Yet I knew that it not only came with age, but one can’t merely hang out a shingle declaring oneself a wise person. That’s for others to determine. At least, that’s how I see it … if one isn’t a charlatan. What’s happening to me now is I’ve realized, viscerally as opposed to intellectually, I am at an age where growing older has nothing to do with improving my lot in life, at least not with respect to employment or professional standing.
I believe my task now is to strive to accept the physical and intellectual limitations brought on by the aging process, while strenuously working to minimize their destructive or deteriorating effects in whatever way I’m capable of. This is why I have been going to the gym to lift weights. It’s also why I write. As well, I’ve decided not to just sit back and be “retired.” I still have a great deal to say. I’m still deeply interested in the direction our country is going in. I care for my daughters and my wife and want to be here for them as long as possible, while staying as healthy and as “in touch” as possible.
I think there’s something deeper that’s going on with me and my view of the world, and I think I was approaching it when I began this post two months (approx) ago. Unfortunately, my memory is suffering from what seems to be a combination of old age (which might means either it’s degrading or I just don’t give a shit about many of the things I did before) and the lingering effects of having Covid-19 at the beginning of the year. Which means I’ll have a lot more to say about this as time goes by. Stay tuned!
I just realized … of all the ways in which this pandemic has changed me, the biggest difference between now and a little over a year ago is … it’s turned me into an introvert. Linda used to complain that we were always the last to leave a party, which was true as I loved engaging not only my friends and relatives, but anybody who was interesting and willing to discuss a huge range of subjects.
I’m one of those people who readily starts up conversations with strangers; at least I used to be that kind of person. I’m not so sure anymore. I’ve gotten so accustomed to staying home and reaching out through Facebook, Twitter, and my blog that I no longer feel much of a need to get out of the house and do something.
OTOH, there is a part of me that’s kind of chomping at the bit; anxious to get back to the way things were, at least in terms of being able to go grocery shopping or eating out, etc. I’m fully vaccinated and, as most of my friends know, was infected with—and recovered from—Covid this past January. I’m about as safe as I’m going to be. I will continue to wear a mask when grocery shopping, but will also be looking for opportunities to go maskless.
I have returned to the gym, along with my buddy, Steve, and my daughter, Alyssa. I don’t wear a mask when I’m there and neither does anyone else. I don’t participate in classes and work out on my own. I stay away from others and the gym has several overhead fans which move the air downward. Right now I’m trying to get back to lifting the weights I was working out with before everything shut down, as well as doing the amount of different exercises I had the stamina for last year. I expect it will take a bit longer at my age than it would have, say, thirty years ago, but I believe it will add to the time I have left on this planet.
Inasmuch as I’m seriously working on a memoir of my experiences becoming a first-time father five years after AARP got me in their sights, I expect to continue spending a lot of my time where I’m sitting right now. I’ve begun communicating with friends we traveled and spent time with in order to get their perspective and to help jar my memory of things in which we all participated.
Now I find myself wondering if I’ll retain some of these introvert tendencies. I learned a long time ago how to be alone without being lonely, and I’m quite comfortable with who I am and the path I’m on, but I am looking forward to how things will change once both of my girls are more fully on their own. Time (the thing I don’t have a great deal of at this point) will tell. I’ve often said I needed to live long enough to get the girls to adulthood, but I’d really like to live long enough to enjoy them as adults for a while. I’m shooting for at least 90, giving me 16 more years. Who knows, maybe I can make it to 100, which nobody in my family has ever reached. Maybe I’ll start surfing again at 80.
Since my retirement from Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in 2010, I have spent quite a bit of energy on developing work as a social media marketer for small business, a business manager for an AI software development firm, and as an editor/proofreader for a number of business books and a couple of novels, as well as a two-year return engagement at Rocketdyne from 2015 to 2017.
I have decided to stop actively pursuing business in these fields and am now positioning myself to be a writer. I have done quite a bit of writing over the years, but I’ve never really attempted to make any money at it; at least not specifically. I’m starting out with a couple of memoirs and, currently, I’m studying the craft, creating a detailed outline and timeline, and honing my skills as a storyteller. Pretty sure I’ll be writing some fiction as well.
The views expressed herein are those of the author. Any opinions regarding the value or worth of particular business processes, tools, or procedures, whether at his former place of employment, at a current client's enterprise, or in general, are his responsibility alone.