We’re living in a new world – sheltered in place – quick trips to grocery stores, take out food places, gas stations and the like. Not everyone. Essential workers are on the job, keeping us functioning. It’s the NEW NORMAL. I only have one complaint! The media stole my crowd’s terminology – new normal. It’s a way of life for us old coots – we move to a new normal several times a year; it starts the day we sign up for Social Security, a stealthy beast creeps up on us when we’re not paying attention.
It throws in a little arthritis here – a hip ache there – a “What did I come in the kitchen for,” moment. At first you run to your doctor, “I can’t walk on the high school track as fast as I used to and it makes me tired.” You get the (new normal) answer, “You have to expect that at your age.” Sometimes you get those exact words, though my primary care physician claims he never said that to me. Whatever! What he thinks he said changed in midair on the trip from his lips to my ears. My older, old coot mentors, warned me when I boarded the old coot train, “You have to get used to it! You’ve got a ton of new normals coming your way; you’re just getting started.” Darned if they weren’t right!
Now, I hardly think about it, this aging process loaded with new normals! THAT’S A LIE! I think about it all the time. Every new normal is like a poke in the eye. Then I adjust and grudgingly accept it.
The last time I went to the doctor, he asked me if I had any new issues. I said, “Not really – I do get a sharp pain in my side quite often – I get up three times a night – my knee is sore – I limp a little – I get tired easily, just those kind of things.” He gave me that scolding parent look and asked why I hadn’t come in sooner. I explained, “I just thought they were new normals. So, after a lot of tests, X-rays, sonograms and the like. He figured it out; a kidney stone (it went away on its own), a little arthritis flare up (it backed off), a nerve problem in my arms and legs (that one stuck around). My new normal eased a bit, but I still ended up at a new old coot plateau.
Then, at the wrap up visit for dealing with those issues, he scolded me again, “Get in here and get things checked out instead of thinking every change is a new normal. I asked why he couldn’t accept, that whenever I climb another rung on the old coot ladder, I call it my new normal. He just shook his head. A few weeks later, I received a letter from his practice announcing his retirement. Imagine that, a young guy in his early 60’s stepping off the work train. (I can’t complain too much; I did it when I was 57). He probably got fed up with old coots in general, and me in particular. Now, I have yet another new normal to adjust to – a so-called “get acquainted” appointment with a new physician. I hope she’s up to it.
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