Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Dr. Orthochick: Getting Old

I was in clinic today and I noticed that all old ladies wear sweatpants and sweatshirts with cats or leaves or cats and leaves embroidered on them. All old men wear high-waisted pants hiked all the way up with suspenders. Which leads me to wonder--at what point do you start dressing that way? When am I going to wake up in the morning and go shopping and see a sweatshirt with a kitty caught in a ball of yarn and decide to buy it to match my sweatpants with elastic on the cuffs? Is it going to be before or after I cut my hair short and perm it? By this point I've resigned myself to this eventuality since pretty much every old lady I've had in clinic has the same outfit and the same haircut, but I'd like some advance notice on when exactly it's going to happen to me.

I guess what it really comes down to is, the only patients I see right now are old people in pain. And even the old people without rheumatoid arthritis have osteoarthritis because that's pretty much a fact of aging. So when is this going to happen to me? At what point in my life am I going to stop being able to enjoy things like kickboxing and going out late and eating sugary crap?

I'm kind of scared to get old. Because work has taught me that old people do one of three things:

1. fall

2. worry about falling

3. have constant pain related to previous fall

And really, I don't want to spend my life being afraid to take a shower because I don't want to fall. So I guess I want to know the exact minute I hit "old" so that I can spend every minute before that enjoying my youth. Or, at least, spend some time powerlifting, chewing gum, and being able to drive myself. Because at some point, I'm not going to be able to do any of those things and it really scares me.


  1. You turn 'old' after your first major fall! ... The sweats make sense when you have a couple weeks in hospital/rehab.

    ... So you never know when it's going to happen. But if you spend too much time in number 2 (worrying about falling) I guess you have pre-empted the inevitable by already making yourself old!

  2. You don't have to be old to fall. I do it regularly. (I'm clumsy but fearless.)

    But I think the sweats thing has to do with getting to the point where comfort trumps style. An aide once commented to me (about my elderly mother) that she was the first old woman who wore jeans regularly. I can't account for that, except perhaps because she's thin and didn't need an elastic waistband that could expand to accommodate the all-you-can-eat early-bird buffet?

  3. If you don't want to fall, start doing Tai Chi. It helps with balance & agility!

  4. I know the generation of older ladies before this one wore pearls and sprayed their hair purplish grey (it was a thing some socialite started in the 50s I think, and the pearl thing with Chanel), so I guess we will be wearing something similarly related to our period of fashion culture. I'm thinking knit pants (probably baggy) and t-shirts as well with Geek related themes? Or, the horror, "Team Edward?"

  5. serious muscle development acquired through activities like powerlifting help you avoid all of your aforementioned concerns

  6. I'm not "old" but I suffered a tibial plateau fx and was non weight bearing for 3 months (post orif)a few years ago. I found myself wearing yoga pants and tshirts everyday because the lack of mobility and daily pain severely inhibited my ability to care for myself. Wheeling myself to the bedroom, then using crutches to get to the bathroom, then having to sit to get undressed and then hopping to the shower to get to the shower chair usually left me tired and breathless. Then I had to reverse the whole thing when I was done and somehow try and get dressed. I pulled my hair back everyday and tried to slink into the easiest, most comfortable thing I could find. Yoga pants and Tees are casual wear by today's standards.

    I can only imagine that for older people with daily pain and/or limited mobility- cat sweatshirts and elastic waist pants are the casual wear of their generation. ;)

  7. Old is a state of mind. I am 63 and ride my Suzuki Bergman to work every day (a 450cc scooter), am about to get a kayak to explore our lakes, and wouldn't but a sweatshirt with a kitten on it even if it was life or death. I have had achy joints since my 30s but do not let it stop me (osteoarthritis from benign hypermobile joints). There is no day you will wake up "old" until you are good and ready.

    drdrj2 (63 y/o female...still in my camping clothes..except at work)

  8. Re: Anonymous - mind over matter/if you don't mind, it doesn't matter. As to old men wearing high-waisted pants hiked all the way up . . . that could just be shrinkage/spinal compression, yes? And why buy new pants with the inseam an inch or so shorter, or have the old ones shortened - just hike 'em up.

    I could be wrong - isn't there suppose to be some morphology changes with age???

  9. Don't forget that most of the old people you see are people with problems. There are plenty that don't, so therefore you don't see them.

    Something else to remember:

    My mother is 72 later this year, and hell will freeze over before anyone sees her in public wearing any sort of sweat-anything. Especially with cat's on it. She's always been really active though, and only in the last 10 years has she asked me to start doing things like climbing a tree to cut down a branch or getting in the roof to put a new possum-cover over the chimney.

    My grandmother at 72 was pretty damn active too, but definitely not as active as Mum is now. She was older, at the same age, as most women of her generation were.

    I'm younger at 40, in many ways, than Mum was at 40 ... mind you, I'm also permanently in sweats at the moment because it's cold as hell and I don't like it.

    Some of it is mind over matter, some of it is your activity levels throughout your life and some of it seems to be that we're just getting older later.

  10. This reminds me of an anxiety attack I had last week while I was biking on a paved, trafficked road along the Elk River. If there was too much of a drop off, I was scared I would bike off the road into the river. If I hugged the yellow line, I was scared I would get run over by a car. This was a new sensation to me. I'm almost 40.

    So is falling caused by actual physical defects or the slow mental decline that gives you vertigo and anxiety? I had to get off my bike and walk a bit to calm down.

    There were big drop offs on my Arkansas River trail today, and it didn't bother me at all. What was different? The new setting? My aloneness? All rhetorical questions, but I've been wondering what the hell that was about!! It scares me too.

  11. My husband and I actually have an agreement that if we notice the other buying any article of "old people" clothes we will immediately take it out away prior to purchase/throw it away and then text our friends about the fact that the other one is now "old"

  12. Try pajama jeans. It's the best of both worlds. It looks like jeans but feels like sweats. I used them a lot with my postpartum time.

    I see a lot of older patients with pain and compression fractures. It's scary. I decided I'm going too start calcium supplements and tai chi for good balance training.