As we grow older, the experiences of our parents can offer us clues about what to expect, or guard against. Having been adopted as a baby, I will have to wait and see. I have no knowledge of my birth parents.
And medical science has moved on since my adoptive parents died. Gran survived breast cancer but later died of pneumonia in her late sixties, too young for the dementia that struck her daughter, my adoptive mum, in her seventies.
After a lifetime of smoking, Dad succumbed to lung cancer in his sixties. Mum had also smoked since she was fourteen. She gave up a couple of times, but was effectively chain smoking at the time of her death, as she would have no memory of having just put out the previous one. My present husband gave up smoking in his early seventies after a similar smoking record and has since passed tests used to diagnose lung disorders. (His bank balance is looking much healthier too.)
There seems little rhyme or reason for some ailments if one doesn’t have a family history to consult.
My husband’s father was perhaps fortunate to have died in his sleep, but hubby’s mum complained that he hadn’t said goodbye to her before he went.
Lockdown for covid has meant that neither of us caught colds or flu last winter – something of a bonus as hubby’s colds inevitably go to his chest. Some have been quite frightening.
I recall during my working life it wasn’t unusual for people to come into work with a cold, although sharing one’s contagion was considered more anti-social by the time I retired. In earlier decades, only the weak and wimpish took time off for something as trivial as the common cold. Hubby has been heard to declare he never took time off sick, and I’m fairly certain he caught colds like everyone else.
He no longer dismisses his sniffles as ‘only a cold’. The one he caught the winter before his coronary bypass nearly carried him off.
Do I want to know ?
To know, or not to know, that seems to be the question. Do I want to know what to expect? And when to expect it?
Certain discomforts are undoubtedly declaring themselves.
I’m sure backache comes to us all, and at any age. I’m currently able to stave that off in a few days when it strikes. . . although it does seem to strike more often lately. And with less traceable cause. Creaks in the knees and hips are less easy to dismiss and will, I know, progress in time to more serious arthritis. I have the knobbly fingers to prove it.
For now, the aches come and they go, but struggling up from the floor after playing with the grandchildren reminds me that stiffness is here to stay.