Artist’s rendering of Roger writing this column.

COLUMN: How not to age gracefully

Earache and two teeth causing me grief. What am I, five?

I really don’t want to harp about getting old but the chronic pain in my back never leaves, I start every morning with a diet of seven pills and, as I write this on a Wednesday afternoon, I have an earache and toothaches (x 2).

Earache and two teeth causing me grief. What am I, five?

I turned 55 in October. And oh is it a far cry from Freedom 55, like you see on the ads on TV (or maybe they’re not on TV anymore. My eyes and hearing aren’t exactly the best, either). I am nowhere close to retirement and instead of sipping a pina colada poolside somewhere, I’m sipping pureed food because of two teeth giving me grief.

You know what I did the first weekend of being 55? My breakfast toast wasn’t dark enough for my liking, so I toasted the bread again. Then forgot about it. It filled my kitchen with smoke. The toast was toast all right. Black as night.

Later that day, I went to boil some water for some pasta and, yep, forgot I did that. Boiled the pot dry.

There was actually a third thing I forgot to do on that same day but, because I’m 55 now, of course, I can’t remember what it was. I’m reasonably certain it didn’t involve cooking anything.

I seriously was looking forward to 55. I get discounts now. My sister, an employee at a drug store franchise, confirmed I get discounts from her company. But only on Thursdays, as I discovered on a Tuesday from the clerk and not my sister.

One fast-food franchise has been given me a seniors discount for three years, thinking I’d already turned 55. Nice of them to ask. I certainly wasn’t going to tell them they were wrong.

After covering the 55+ BC Games in Vernon/Coldstream/Armstrong/Spallumcheen in 2017, I figured out I was eligible for the 2019 Games in Kelowna. My plan was to enter maybe a couple of events: cribbage and table tennis. For one thing, I don’t think I’d get hurt playing cribbage. Table tennis, though, it would be luck to get my foot caught in the net hopping over it after a win (that’s a joke. I couldn’t lift my leg to get on the table let alone hop over the net, which I don’t believe you can do without seriously damaging the table).

Turns out the Kelowna Games are scheduled for the same time I’m supposed to be going to Phoenix with some friends. Phoenix, in Arizona, where the heat will probably make me spontaneously combust. So my Games debut may have to wait until 2020. However, the 2020 Games are in Richmond, the 2021 Games will be held in Victoria and Abbotsford, the closest to Vernon gets to host the Games in 2022.

Kelowna is just down Highway 97. I envisioned driving back and forth, sleeping in my own bed. Can’t do that in Richmond, Victoria or Abbotsford. I may have to – gasp! – spend some money if I want to take part.

I take the buffet of pills for my blood pressure, heart and diabetes, and a balm for eczema that resides on two fingers, including the middle finger on my right hand (you can imagine I take great delight in showing select people the rash on that finger):

Me (middle finger extended): “See? Look. My middle finger is giving me grief.”

My doctor sums things up so eloquently, so beautifully, in two simple words: “You’re aging.”

Well, no kidding, And not very well, apparently.

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