Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I'm The McRib

The human body is amazing.

Well, your human body is amazing.  Mine is rather an inefficient, codependent mess of barely functioning systems that somehow manage to both keep me almost robustly healthy and completely flummox medical professionals across the country.  Seriously, around our house it's a joke in which I say things like "Well sure, but aside from the congestive heart failure, I'm perfectly healthy."  Or "Yeah, but aside from the asthma, I'm perfectly healthy." Or "Certainly, but aside from the malfunctioning thyroid, I'm perfectly healthy."

If, as John Mayer insists, my body actually is a wonderland, it's a scientific one that I should donate to medical research (you know, after my death).  It's like the biological equivalent of the Gift of the Magi.

Take last week for example.  After a wonderful but late Thursday night with my bestie Vicki in town, I awoke feeling just as poorly as I had for many, many days after inheriting what appeared to be a rather uncommon cold from The Boy.  It had run its course for days:  First a horrible sore throat, then a stuffy/runny nose (how can it be both, seriously?), then a cough.  And then a bad cough.  And then a body-wracking, soul-shaking cough that left me gaping for breath while SEATED.

It's not like I didn't know it was going to happen.

Asthma is a fucking awful thing.  And yes, I'm standing by my decision to invoke the F word there.  It's one of those things that makes you seem like a totally normal person until you find yourself having to run in high heels through downtown in cold weather because you're late coming back from a lunch that your old boss made you schedule with visiting coworkers and which she then chose not to attend...and then suddenly you're late to her ridiculously self-important 90-minute staff meeting (for 2 people) and completely chagrined, fighting for air like a goldfish that has leapt from her bowl onto the counter. Or until you make the mistake of trying to clean your basement shower with a product containing ammonia and realize too late that your puffer is two stories over your head and there's no one around to fetch it for you and you're single and no one even goes into your basement so who cares if this shower is clean anyway and why are you willing to die for it?  Or until your new boyfriend takes you on a hike (which I think was to test my relative fitness level) and then looks on in dismay when you begin to wheeze and sputter and try to maintain some sense of "but look how cute and outdoorsy I am in my new Ann Taylor cargo pants!"

So on Friday my doctor conducted another breathing test on me as I sat all clammy and feverish in his office for the third time in nine months. For those of you who have the luxury of fully functioning lungs and have never had to do this, it involves you blowing as hard as you can into a little tube (insert oral sex joke here and yuck it up, people). The end result is that once the sensation that you're going to pass out subsides and the black dots at the corner of your vision disappear, the computer can tell you the relative age and capacity of your lungs.

Surprise!  On Friday, my lungs were 84 years old.

I'm 46.

I'm forty-FUCKING-six years old and already dismayed at the damage time and gravity have wrought on my face and body (not to mention my discomfort at knowing how close I am to Molly Shannon's skit of "I'M FIFTY!").  Like most of you, while I certainly was aware that an "aging process" existed, I honestly didn't expect it to happen to me. Like I would somehow be that elusive beast that stays looking 30 my entire life-- a wrinkle-free unicorn with taut skin and supple thighs.  But no such luck.

And you know what?  I've earned each of these wrinkles, every bit of the droop, and I've mostly enjoyed the calories that have padded my squishy parts (I could've done without most of the broccoli and ALL of the parsnips).  But my lungs?  I didn't earn that.  My heart that now relies on a battery to kickstart it in the case of a stall?  I didn't earn that.  My thyroid that decided I should gain weight even on a 1200 calorie per day diet?  I. Did. Not. Earn. That.

And, quite simply, I'm pissed.

Pissed that I'm middle-aged (if I'm lucky).  Pissed that my eye doctor has informed me I'm not a candidate for Lasik and will likely need bifocals soon.  Pissed that I'm supposed to tame my hair into something more age-appropriate (although I'm apparently also not a candidate for a Brazilian Blow-out) and slip quietly into irrelevance.

Have I gained wisdom along the way?  Absolutely.  Do I have more economic power than ever before?  Sure. Have I enjoyed a privileged life, many vacations, and lots of luxury that millions of people will never know? You betcha. Have I been lucky enough to be loved fully and truly? Right on, brotha.  Sock it to me!

But what I really want is my 22 year old body back (without having to attend a pedantic and desperate bootcamp kinda gig or actually do any real work for it cuz God knows my traitor of a heart isn't going to allow that).  I want to enjoy it this time around and not lament the tiny flaws that loomed so large when I looked in the mirror at myself back then.  (Note to the Moms out there:  Do not allow your daughter to purchase a magnified, lighted make-up mirror.  Ever.)  I want to embrace that beautiful, optimistic girl and tell her to love herself and to revel in how little she knows about all that will begin to go SO wrong inside of her and on her face.

Me at 22.  I'm sure everyone saw what I saw:  An enormously fat girl  with
a huge nose,  asymmetrical nostrils, a week jawline and bad hair. Oh, to look that awful again.

But mostly I think I just want to wear a mini skirt and not look stupid. Or to elicit a catcall once again (I promise this time I'll appreciate it, construction workers of America!)

And maybe breathe a little easier.

But apparently like a McRib, I'm packed with fat, full of inorganic matter, and only available for a limited time.  So savor me, people.

Savor me!

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