It is no picnic growing old; perhaps that’s why I don’t hear people talk about it much. In fact, I don’t hear much of anything these days. I noticed the ageing process kicking in around the age of 40. My hearing started to go and walking was becoming hard work and I’d find myself driving past Tesco, after work, instead of nipping in and buying that, much needed, bottle of red.
Anyone living with Cerebral Palsy will know that you are never in complete control of your body. Forty nine years has taken its toll, in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined. I can’t blame the hearing loss on CP though; that was too much head banging in the 80s, along with an over consumption of alcohol and head banging of a more painful nature. Unfortunately, my frequent falls now, don’t require alcohol and are usually remembered with immediate clarity.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my body with all her quirks. She has given me some great times and a wonderful son. We have been up volcanoes in the Solomon Islands and survived almost getting arrested at Singapore airport when my friend tried to hide cannabis in my walking frame. Now that got my heart racing. The dogs knew, they were all over me so it was lucky I had flushed the gear back in London.
I’ve never been good at compromise and now, my body has put her foot down. She has me hostage! She will not tolerate alcohol which, even in small quantities, sets my head and joints on fire. All physical activity must be kept to a minimum or I can forget getting anything else done that day. I try to comply but sometimes, I rebel. I haven’t told her that I plan to order a case of Bordeaux for my fiftieth birthday! I’m hoping that the cholesterol packed curry feast will keep her busy while I rehydrate.
Looking to the future, I am trying to get one step ahead of her. I’ve brought a hard hat to wear when the falls get too much. I no longer walk but bum shuffle downstairs. I buy pain killers like they’re about to be banned and have a secret stash just in case they actually are. I need them for the busy days and hangovers because I’m not ready to stop living on my terms.
I know that if I live long enough, I will lose my independence. Who doesn’t, at the end of life? And while this scares me, it also keeps me going. I don’t argue so much now or live in denial. I know when she is about to blow a gasket at me. But if I can just keep going; working through the pain and fatigue, taking one day at a time, then maybe, just maybe we can keep living disgracefully for many years to come.