I’m not ready. But I kind of have to be.
Until very recently, the milestone I’m approaching — that would be turning 50 in almost exactly 14 months — has mostly been a source of comedy for me. It’s easy to joke about the difference in ages between me and pretty much all of my friends and colleagues in Pittsburgh; I’m older than nearly everyone — by two decades or more in some cases — so when I hear you guys gripe about how far away we are from eighties and nineties, a smirk and a glance over the tops of my glasses will almost always get a laugh. And if I can get a cheap laugh, I’ll go for it, nearly every time.
I think I’ve said here before — and I know I’ve talked about this to a bunch of you in person — I have no idea how someone who is almost 50 is supposed to act. I don’t wake up in the morning and think about having survived nearly a half-century on this planet. I supposed it’s possible that I’ll wake up one day and realize that I’m trying to behave like someone ten (or 15, or 20) years younger than me, and that I need to knock it off. But I definitely need more sleep these days, and it takes me longer in the mornings to loosen up to the degree that I’m not shuffling around the house like I’m an old guy.
The upshot: I feel older, but I’ve never felt like I’m almost 50.
And that’s why the discussions I’ve been having with our new doctor are so disconcerting.
Mrs. Crappy and I both took on a new doc at the recommendation of friends who have been seeing her for a while. I like her a lot. Her manner is similar to what I’ve always guessed being a patient of the Coochie Doctor would be: she is positive, energetic, willing to joke a bit while still being matter-of-fact about what we’re doing. I liked our previous doc too (the change in jobs meant a change in insurance carriers and, therefore, a change in doctors), but in retrospect, I think we were too close to being contemporaries to deal with the things I’m going to have to deal with.
And there is a list.
I’ve seen New Doc twice now. The first time I visited, my blood pressure was sky high, something we’re attributing in part to being nervous about that first checkup; on the second visit, it was 125/85, a reading she was very happy about.
The other good thing: between the first and second visits, I had bloodwork done. And in her words, it was perfect — all the cholesterols, all of that stuff, all much better than she expected to see, especially for someone with a family history of heart problems.
Except for one thing. Blood sugar.
There will be another blood draw next week and another appointment the week after that, but New Doc was careful to make sure I understood this: given my family history, diabetes was likely to be a thing for me from here on in.
And man, I am unhappy about this.
The obvious things that could help are going or already gone. There is no more sweetened cereal in the house. Those freaking fruit popsicles that I used to satisfy my powerful sweet tooth. The Pepsi Max-and-Pop Tart breakfasts are a thing of the past. I don’t know what all the rules are now — I’ll see a nutritionist sometime here in the future — but that stuff is easy to figure out.
And then we discussed carbs, and all that entails. New Doc mentioned a list that includes replacements for many of my favorite things, pasta being chief among those. Sweet potatoes instead of those giant baked ones from Idaho. Beer is an issue. I think about how much I love food, trying new restaurants, visiting the homes of friends who are willing to cook — and there are a bunch of you — and I think about having to give up nearly all of that.
And suddenly, life looks pretty gray.
I will do what New Doc and the nutritionist ask me to do. I will do everything I can to control this without insulin, because that’s a complication I don’t want to have to deal with.
And, eventually, I will remember some of the things I’ve heard in the 14 months since I started yoga — setting aside the attachments to the things that brought me here in favor of appreciating what’s in front of me right now. When I’m able to do that consistently, I’ll be in much better shape.
I’m not there now. Acceptance will take some time.
When I was home for my high school reunion in July, I was struck by how many of the people I see only every five years had become old, not so much physically but in action and attitude. I left feeling thankful that I wasn’t there yet.
I’m doubting that now.
This feeling will pass. I will become accustomed to a new routine, a new normal. Sweets will be a rare treat instead of a nightly habit. I will find a brand of whole wheat pasta that doesn’t make me want to cry. I will be healthier and better for the effort.
But for now, I just feel old.