I recently went to the beach with some friends.  We set up our umbrellas and chairs in a little circle about fifteen feet from the waves.  The sky was a greyish blue, the sun peaking in and out of the clouds.  Temperatures were perfect- not too humid, not too hot, not too cold.  Light breeze.  We sipped on water and adult beverages (sssh- don’t tell) and ate grapes from the cooler. Then the conversation opened: “When did you have your last colonoscopy?” Which was followed by various dates and measures and frequency.  So the answer to the question “At what age do people start talking about their health, the amount of pills they take, and other medical related things” is 58.7, the average age of the people around our little circle.

I am now afraid to ask someone “How are you?” because I know I will probably not hear the response “Fine.  And you?” I will probably get shown their portable pill case, which is fine and all, but not necessarily the topic I want to discuss at a cocktail party or beach outing.

Don’t get me wrong.  I seriously care about the health of my friends.  I truly do want to know how they are doing, what issues they are dealing with, and how they are treating them.  But why do Doctor’s appointments have to become the opening line of conversation? Can’t we just go back to discussing the weather? “Wow.  Can you believe all the rain we’ve had?” “I know.  But at least it will stop the humidity.”

I know I’m fast approaching the age where health will become the major concern of my life.  I know it will be the first thing I think about when it takes me 15 minutes to get out of bed. (Fun fact- the name of this blog came about when I realized that at 49 I was able to spring out of bed with the first sound of the morning M101 limited streaming up from the street, and at 50 I had to set the alarm ten minutes early not so I can snooze, but because it took me ten minutes to stretch and unlock all the joints needed to get out of bed) But…can’t we try to not have it be the very first thing we think about/discuss?

There is nothing bad about getting older.  In fact, I’d rather get older than the other option.  But age is a mindset.  While we must learn to take proper care of our older bodies, and be on the lookout for new and interesting maladies, we can’t keep thinking about our health and it’s slow deterioration.  It’s inevitable: our bodies will show signs of wear and tear.  That doesn’t mean we have to be hyper focused on it.

So yes, read about health related issues.  Go to the Doctor.  Talk to your friends about what’s going on. Lead a healthy lifestyle. But on a beautiful day, when you’re sitting at the beach, just look at the ocean and think about how great it is to be alive.  Cause that’s the thing- live while you’re alive.  Find new things to talk about, and challenge yourself in different ways. Don’t think that because you have to watch heartrate or cholesterol level you must constantly focus on health related issues.  that it becomes the main topic of conversation. Remember all the other things that make up who you are. Come up with a better opening line.

And just live life the best you can, no matter what age you are.



51 thoughts on “The Answer to the Question is…

  1. LA,

    I don’t think I will ever arrive at that point, where the first words I utter in a conversation with my friend have to do with my latest pill crush or doctor visit. I’ve made it a point that, if I do happen to arrive at the tender age of seventy in good enough health, I will celebrate the miraculous accomplishment by taking up the habits I’m not supposed to be taking up currently. Soooo . . . it will be smoking cigars and drinking the requisite amount of bourbon in my quest for that happy place. The hell with oatmeal and apple sauce . . what am I saving it for?

    I jest . . kinda/sorta. But I dig your thoughts on this matter and I relate wholeheartedly.

    Peace and friendly drinks

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We were out with some friends the other evening when the conversation began to turn into a medical recital. Yikes! At 62, I’m pretty darn healthy… no complaints… so I gently steered the conversation elsewhere. You know, something more uplifting and positive… like politics.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I would have been critiquing people’s outfits, talking about where the grapes came from (my previous job ruined me for food LOL), what shopping we want to do, and/or oceanography/meteorology/geology because that shit fascinated me when I had to take science classes at university.

    I don’t want to think about colon health unless we’re making poop jokes because I’m really just a 12 year old boy trapped in a 48 year old woman’s body😁🤗😁🤗

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I have an apt at 5:30. I feel much better actually but it’s still itchy. I just want them to look deeper than I can and, if needed, give me antibiotic drops. Then I’ll be on my merry way. And, to supplement my self-care, I booked a massage the next day. Ha. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! What a way to start a conversation. I agree. There are so many other fun things to discuss. This is really a 1 on 1 conversation. I guess you won’t be going to the beach with this group anymore 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. True! Going to try that. Alas, there’s always idyl speculation, because one of the couples that was at that circle is now, a month later, not a couple anymore…


  5. I agree health is important and we need to look after ourselves but I’m increasingly finding that some friends are health obsessed and I get to hear about every twinge and ache. I care about myself and I have twinges too but prefer not to dwell on them. I want my friends to feel able to share their health concerns me with me but not to dominate conversation with them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right?! We laugh because when I go to my parents over 55 community, they sit around and talk about medical issues. I didn’t realize I was this close to those conversations!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh man, that does sound like senior center conversation. I never want to go there – literally or figuratively. I try to stop myself whenever I hear something health-related come out of my mouth.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. At least it wasn’t about incontinence or my favorite, a woman who asked me at a recent wedding if I have considered vaginal tightening. Seriously. I didn’t know what to say. When did this become an acceptable topic at a wedding reception?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Agreed! No need to talk about our health all the time. Yes, we need to tell friends and relatives about the big stuff that is going on, but no one needs to hear about every appointment, test, and symptom. We’re getting older, which means are bodies are beginning to fail, but as you say….let’s just live the best we can!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. When I was working my first jobs, my peers complained that married and married-with-children couples only ever talked about those things. In work settings, we talked about work.

    Now that I am in the married-with-children phase, I feel I must cast about for SOMEthing to answer the “What’s new?” query besides which offspring are doing what. So… maybe apart from age creating more health concerns, you have some retiree friends who feel a colonoscopy is the most interesting “news.”

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Seriously, the idea should be to accept your age gracefully and accept the fact that growing old is not the end all of everything..exercising caution and treading with care and treating age as a casual matter of fact works well!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I am of the opinion that people choose it as a safe topic, because everyone has health issues. Bring up a news item, your thoughts on an issue, or god forbid politics and you will meet stony silence. If I want to know about someones health I ask in private because there should be boundaries.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I loved reading this and all the replies, here in the Uk it is the same for many people but I think we have to lay the blame partially at the door of the medical profession. I am truly grateful for all the advances in medicine but maybe the pendulum has swung too far, we are always being asked to attend this check or do this test at home, to watch what we eat and drink, to make sure we get enough exercise and all these warnings and reminders only serve to make people anxious and therefore health obsessed. Maybe it was better twenty years ago when you stayed away from the doctor until something was actually wrong?

    Liked by 1 person

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