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Lunch With the 50+ Set

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WOMAN
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It's happened. I was hoping I'd never see this day, but, perhaps, it was inevitable. After all, I just turned 56. So, to celebrate, I went out for lunch with the gals. My post-50 friends. Which is when the unthinkable occurred. We started talking trash.

Trash, that is, about our ailments.

Roberta gave us an update on her diabetes, which has recently been exasperated by the stress of her mother's gall bladder issues. Alicia informed us that she is still out on disability leave ever since losing the feeling in her right hand. Meanwhile, Ann explained how she's up to her eyeballs with thyroid problems.

Gale regaled us with stories of her ongoing turmoil of living with shingles, which settled into her system just a few months after turning 60. Too bad her doctor didn't give her a heads up that she could do a preemptive strike, and get a vaccination for shingles upon reaching that milestone. And, this is on top of her recent diagnosis of arthritis in her left knee. But, if that wasn't enough, Gale reminded us of her recent colonoscopy, and how it went terribly awry and left her in so much pain -- not to mention an infection in her colon -- that she swears she'll never endure one again.

Our conversation went on and on like this, each one trumping the other until I wasn't sure who had it worse. With so many health woes being tossed around, I was pretty certain that the only way we could settle the score, once and for all, would be to head to the local cemetery, for a reality check.

Overwhelmed by all these calamities, I left my birthday lunch, feeling worse than when I woke up that morning with a crick in my neck and a cramp in my calf. Which led me to wonder, when exactly did we make the transition from talking about boys and shopping, to bragging about our children's accomplishments, to now whining about what ails us? Is this what is meant by "Sunrise, Sunset," the heart wrenching song from the Fiddler on the Roof musical? Or is this just par for the course? Nature's way of reminding us that the clock is ticking.

I remember in my college years, I'd listen to the moms and grandmothers of my friends talk about their health problems -- high cholesterol, high blood pressure, bad backs, bum knees, etc -- and swear that would never happen to me. And now, here I am, in my 50s, and, for better, for worse, I'm being sucked into a conversation I'm just not ready to embrace.

Perhaps, we need a reminder that we still have it. Like many baby boomers, I am not ready to declare myself a member of the over-the-hill gang. We're boomers, after all, and we were raised on a motto that we are, in the words of Rod Stewart, "forever young."

So the next time you're having lunch with friends, and find you need to talk about your sciatica, try to refrain. Remember, the key to feeling young is acting young. Notice how you don't see many 20-somethings discussing, ad nauseam, the plight of their health issues.

Now, I recognize that having such problems is inevitable. I, for one, am no spring chicken. All you have to do is look at my neck to know the awful truth. Like Nora Ephron, I, too, am feeling bad about my neck. But humans have a sell-by date, and the aging process comes with the territory. Not even fitness guru, Jack LaLanne could avoid it.

But, that doesn't mean we need to dwell on it when we get together with friends. I don't know about you, but I'd like to enjoy hanging out with my pals without having to wonder whether this will be the last time we see each other, thanks to the illnesses that seem to be chomping at the bit to do us in. I'd like to appreciate the good in our lives for as long as we can.

So, maybe I feel this way because I don't seem to have it as bad as some of my friends. But then again, my family practitioner did inform me that I need to watch my cholesterol, and my optometrist did schedule me for a glaucoma exam. Yet, you won't find me talking about this stuff with anyone but my physicians.

When I'm with friends, I'd like to still chat about movies we've seen, books we've read, our kids, the weather and, of course, the latest on Demi and Ashton, or Angelina and Brad.

But the clock is, indeed, ticking, and I'm bracing myself for the day when what ails me becomes the focus of my conversations. And, when that day comes, you have my full permission to plug your ears. Either that, or walk away. I'll take the hint.

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