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Renee Fisher Headshot

The Missing Body Parts of Women Over 50

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It occurred to me recently that I have fewer body parts than I used to have.

My tonsils have been gone since 1954. Since I have never understood what, exactly, tonsils are, I never missed them. And I also know that after my generation, doctors seem to have decided that whatever tonsils are, they are not scary enough to have to be removed. So my children's generation and my grandson's generation are all walking around with something in their throats that, like, the appendix, used to be really necessary about 50,000 years ago.

My wisdom teeth were impacted and so were removed in 1968 (no snide comments here). I don't know where they would have been anyway, because when I open my mouth as wide as it can possibly be, I don't see any spaces where more teeth could have fit.

Other body parts succumbed at midlife and beyond. My uterus has been gone for about 15 years. Since it wasn't required to house a fourth child, I didn't miss it. My knee was replaced about one and a half years ago, and the doctor tells me that eventually, the other knee will have to go as well. I do miss my real knee. It allowed me to whisk successfully past the folks at airport security. Now, I have to get to the airport an extra 10 minutes earlier than I did before. I know that after the alarm goes off and other passengers in the immediate vicinity swivel their heads and expresses visible relief that I am not holding an Uzi, I have to go through the drill of being patted down in public, something that I haven't experienced since college.

I've lost height. I used to be statuesque 5'2 1/2". Now I am about an inch-and-a-half shorter. I still haven't figured out where that inch has gone, and I wonder why, if we have to lose inches, it can't be in our waist. That simply doesn't happen. I do tell people I used to be 5'9". That makes me feel a little better.

Let's not even talk about brain cells. There are times when my brain cell leakage approximates the current oil spill disaster, without anyone coming up with plans to pour concrete into the gaps in my head to prevent further spillage. Actually, I think the correct way of describing it is that some of the synapses between the brain cells aren't firing correctly anymore. Others have made interesting new connections. This is why when I want to say "socks" I will mentally have to say "shoes,' and "feet," before the word "socks" appears.

There are other women my age who have fewer body parts now than on the day they were born. I have friends who have lost a variety of body parts, both visible and not visible. We all look sort of normal on the outside, and we rarely talk about the fact that we are slowly disappearing. The only thing that continues to puzzle us is why, if we are losing body parts, do we weigh more than we used to? It doesn't seem logical. But, then we realize that as long as our mouths are intact, we can still talk, laugh and eat. It would be a real tragedy to lose a mouth.