I realized something the other day. I just don’t bounce as well as I used to. Last weekend I took a tumble down the stairs in my house. I suppose it could have been much worse than just a hairline rib fracture. The doctor said it would take 6 weeks to completely heal. In the meantime all I can do is wait it out and try to remember not to use my left side. The reminder is pretty painful when I forget.
I know I got away pretty lucky — had I been older it could have been much worse. I might have fractured a shoulder or hip or several ribs. Of course 20 years ago, it probably would have just meant a couple of bad bruises. It’s amazing how much we take our bodies for granted, until an injury makes us pay attention.
I’m another victim of “Boomeritis.” This is a relatively new phenomenon that afflicts those born roughly between 1946 and 1964. The ones needing shoulder surgery, or knee replacements before we qualify for Medicare. It must be catching – several friends have also recently gone through various phases of Boomeritis. One threw his back out lifting a box and has been off his feet for two weeks. Turns out it was a herniated disc. Another just finished months of rehab for a shoulder injury from playing tennis. Other friends suffer with bad knees, bad wrists, backs, and hips. At this rate we could probably send the kids of several orthopedists to Ivy League colleges.
It becomes a Catch-22 when you reach midlife. You try to eat right. Get plenty of exercise and monitor your cholesterol. You take your multivitamins and calcium supplements. All of these things improve health but can’t really stop the march of time. My friends and I are at a point in our lives where even doing simple things that we have done for years become a real risk. Our bodies are aging but our minds keep saying “not yet”.
In our culture of “get-it-done-yesterday” and instant answers, boomers are not slowing down. Instead, we choose to fix what’s not working so well, despite the fact that our bodies are sending us a clear message: slow down! Your mind may say “35” but your body knows better. It feels the wear and tear of your actual years on this planet.
There’s really no cure for Boomeritis. Every boomer must figure out his or her own care plan. Maybe that means cutting back on tennis, or walking more, and jogging less. It definitely means being more aware of your body’s limitations, and minimizing risk of injury. That includes taking a look around your home for things like loose rugs, wobbly ladders, or stuff on the floor that can be tripped over. And by the way, hold on when you go down the stairs!