The other morning, as my consciousness was dancing a merry reel along the fuzzy line between sleep and wakefulness, I had a dream about cross-country croquet. I remember a few details, like how the croquet mallets slowly morphed from odd, foot-long aztec-looking croquet-ball flingers into fairly typical (if low-quality) backyard mallets. I remember that fuego was playing, along with some of the others I’ve played cross-country beer croquet with over the years.
There was also an older guy, who it turns out was a teacher. He had to leave when a student called for him.
I woke up and chuckled over the dream, then realized something: The ‘older’ guy In my dream was my age. It seems my self-image may be lagging reality.
Not that there aren’t plenty of reminders these days. Some of the signs are subtle. At work, when I wash my hands, I linger with them in the flow of the hot water. That’s probably arthritis heading my way.
When I was younger, life was not without its aches and pains. Back then, pain meant “stop using that part of your body until it stops hurting.” Now, there’s a new category of pain: “get used to it.”
It’s important to be able to distinguish the two. My knee hurts, all the time. It’s not getting worse, but it’s not getting better. I need to have a doctor look at it, but in the meantime I ice it after I exercise, and if it does bother me particularly I skip the elliptical trainer.
A fun side note: A few years back I learned from a friend, one of my peers who was faster to the “get used to it” type of pain than I, that frozen peas make a good ice pack. So, when it came time for regular applications of cold to my knee, I knew what I needed. I asked my sweetie to pick up a bag of therapeutic peas next time she was out shopping.
She was at the local CVS, a pharmacy/sundries store, and she checked the freezer section for peas. No luck. As long as she was there, she decided to look in the sports/first aid section*, where she found a gel pack made for knees, filled with little frosty pellets. The product name: “Peas”. It works pretty well, and the cold feels great, but I wish it would stay cold just a little bit longer.
In my dreams I’m still a young whippersnapper, but, like most dreams, reality has a different story to tell. Still, there’s a part of me that believes in the dream. All I have to do is lose a little weight, stretch a little more, and my knee won’t hurt and I’ll be able to play all those games I used to play, without worrying about my hamstring blasting out the back of my leg.
In other words, I didn’t stop dreaming when I woke up.
* Many years ago my friends and I marked the transition when visiting the sporting goods store went from gravitating towards the racks of exotic softball bats and fun toys to making a bee-line to the section filled with knee braces and padded clothing. Now “sports” and “first aid” are nearly synonymous.