Hugh Deadwyler column: Fellow seniors: Don't be a pain in the neck

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 6, 2007

By Hugh Deadwyler

For The Salisbury Post

I’ve got a pain in the neck. Well, not just there, but it goes into the tops of my shoulders and back over my shoulder blades. It spasms on me, and acts up, particularly when I’m tense.

Are you bored yet? Good. I’ll tell you more.

It’s an old Army basic training injury and it’s flared up on me, periodically, for the last 35 years. Want to know how I treat it? Have you had enough?

I’ll stop here. I’m just trying to make a point. You probably relate to what I’m talking about depending on your age or your current state of health.

Even if you’re young, you know about physical pain from sports injuries and inevitable accidents growing up. So you can empathize, to a degree, with what I’ve just described. Like a Bill Clinton “I feel your pain” sort of thing.

But why do older people seem obsessed about their aches and pains and seem to talk about them all the time?

It’s because they’re (we’re) wearing out; that’s why.

And if this weren’t enough, if you’re young you can reasonably anticipate decades and decades more of life. But not if you’re old. When you’re old, you’re getting life-spanned out.

Also, often when you’re old you don’t look so good anymore. Most older people don’t age as well as Sean Connery or Katharine Hepburn. Also, old people become “frail.” That term means “tired all the time” with balance problems and diminished strength.

So when you break it down, old people have a lot to be cranky about. If you’re young, should it surprise you if we express it? In fact, it’s surprising how many old people are not cranky. Sometimes even I’m not.

I read about a college coed who did something I thought was really cool. She was a sociology major who was going to be a social worker. She wanted to know how it felt to be old — so she stayed up all night, one night, so she would be fatigued the next day. Then the next morning she smeared Vaseline on her glasses and put rocks in her shoes (so her sight would be impaired and her gait would be hobbled). Then she went to all her classes.

She didn’t like it.

However if we, the old, complain too much about our health, you can always say one thing we can’t ever deny. We all had our shot at being young once-upon-a-time.

Meanwhile, I think I’ll go run a hot shower on my back and neck.

Hugh Deadwyler is a freelance writer who lives in Salisbury.