I think 2013 is going to be the year my body finally concludes its 20-year journey towards decrepitude. After the first few twinges at the age of 16, I can now feel the moment coming where it finally gives up the ghost and disintegrates into a puddle of cartilage and regret.
I’m still having trouble with my left knee after the sprain I inflicted on myself through regular exercise failed to correct itself after months of rest, and was eventually exacerbated by a slip on wet floor. (Slipping on wet floor – by all rights I should have cracked a hip.) Turns out knees are funny things – you start going easy on them after hurting them through overuse, and important bits of them immediately atrophy, leaving them in an even worse state. So I exercised, which damaged my knee, then I stopped exercising, which damaged my knee*. The lesson I take from this is: Fuck knees.
That particular knee and I have some history – in 1992 I was running through the house when I took a corner too narrowly and smacked knee first into a wall. On the plus side, I was left with an injury that genuinely aches when the weather is damp, which comes in handy if I ever want to feel like a salty sea-captain (less often than you’d think).
1992 was also the year I first noticed how long it took me to get to sleep at night, which would culminate years later in me paying a specialist quite a lot of money to be told I have insomnia and here are some drugs. I stopped taking sleeping pills when babies came on the scene – being woken in the middle of the night is a given, and I’d rather not have to manage an infant with a head full of cotton wool. Have I mentioned lately that I’m very tired?
1992 was also also the year I first noticed the whiteboard getting blurry in classes. Two years later I got my first pair of glasses. To begin with I only really needed them to make out details at a distance – I remember the first time I put them on and forgot I was wearing them, then wondered why I had a headache after staring at an exam paper two feet from my face for an hour. Eventually I started to need them more and more (I also remember the first time I forgot I wasn’t wearing them, while sitting in a movie theatre watching The First Wives Club** and wondering why I could barely make out Dianne Keating’s face), and these days they’re a permanent fixture.
I was painfully skinny for most of my early life – I didn’t start putting on weight in any a real way until I hit the metabolism slowdown that seems to occur to most people in their early twenties. I remember the first time I experienced the sensation of running down a flight of stairs and feeling bits of me jiggle slightly, where previously there had been no bits to jiggle.
Once I graduated University and took up a career driving a desk (a desk with a permanent supply of M&Ms and Skittles in the top drawer), weight started to go on more easily. I should clarify that I’ve never been – and likely never will be – what you’d call “overweight”, but I had become noticeably huskier. (Around that time I was at a family gathering, where my grandfather, who I hadn’t seen for a little while, commented immediately “you’ve got fat!” Didn’t help that a few minutes later I sat down on a couch and it broke.)
Just as it was beginning to look like I’d have to actually start looking after myself, salvation appeared in the form of a nasty bout of gastroenteritis – sure, not being able to hold down food for a fortnight was vexing, but all the weight I’d put on over the previous couple of years just evaporated. That may have restored my lissome figure, but the fact remained that I barely roused myself from a sitting position and had the muscle tone of semolina. Exercise was going to have to happen at some point.
Various friends had been having fun doing wushu for exercise, and I got into that for quite a while – it was a good workout and considerably more fun than pounding away at some machine in a gym. Aside from sweat issues that saw me finally shaving off my ten-year-old ponytail (initially my body didn’t appear to know what was going on and switched my sweat glands into Panic Mode, where they seem to have stuck), it worked well for me. And then I fucked up my knee and I’m back where we started, contemplating my own spiraling descent into dilapidation, like an ammonite that’s shit at similes.
And you know what? I started writing this post before I took a week off due to being too fucked to write…
*And it’s only a matter of time before it kicks off a cascade of muscle failure, as one injury causes me to favour other muscles, which then get overworked and injured, which causes me to rely on other muscles and so on. I’ll probably be an amorphous blob in a mobility scooter by the time you read this.
**Yeah, I know – the woman I fancied at the time wanted to see it. Totally not worth it, as things turned out.