Everything is conspiring to remind me that I am getting older. It doesn't help that I have a birthday later this month. (I can just about remember the days when I couldn't wait for birthdays.) I had such a busy few months with visitors and visiting that I've had to devote November to catching up on wear and tear appointments: dentist, optometrist, chiropodist, hairdresser, hearing care etc. All reminders that things are not what they used to be.
Yesterday, I had to go to the hospital in Exeter for my six-monthly check up with the lovely Macmillan nurses who have cared for my arm since I developed breast cancer related lymphodoema (BCRL) in 1995. Alison and Jayne have become special friends through the years and these appointments are more about celebrating life and survival than reminders of physical decline. In the early days, when the arm was very swollen, I would go for two-week stretches, staying in a hotel and attending the hospital daily for massage and bandaging to reduce the swelling. Things are much better now and the condition is managed with a compression sleeve - my "badge of survival." My check-up appointments tend to be routine and an excuse to chat and share my home made cakes or biscuits.
As Jayne was marking off the measuring points on my arms and inspecting the skin for any signs of potential problems, she noticed a small lump on the affected arm. I told her that it wasn't troublesome and that Alison had been keeping an eye on it. "It's probably just another sign of ageing," I said, gloomily. Perfectionist Jayne asked if I minded having it checked out and she returned a few minutes later with a bubbly, attractive young woman who, despite her youthful appearance, was a consultant dermatologist. She looked at the said blemish and laughed. "That's a seborrhoeic wart," she said. "A mark of wisdom and maturity."
From now on, I shall not flinch at the sight of a new grey hair, a thickening toe nail or a yellowing tooth. No more miserable signs of ageing for me - just more marks of wisdom and maturity! Bring it on!