Disabled List by Sharon Silverman

Senior Citizen, Elder, Geezer, Golden Ager –I’m one of them but still feel about 45 – well, maybe 50.  Birth certificates, crows’ feet, and neck wrinkles don’t lie.  I’m 72.

Way back when I was 55, I learned how to ride a Honda CB350. I rode it roundtrip from Sydney to Brisbane.  “So there AARP!  Keep your magazine!”   Back then, I was deep in a long distance relationship – Chicago to Sydney is definitely LONG DISTANCE. No aches and pains.  No fears or hesitations to try anything new. I ignored voices warning of motorbike accidents or the possible ramifications of unprotected sex.  Well, I did worry about that one.   Should I have trusted my Australian lover during those long periods of separation?

Fast forward ten years.  I don’t feel old, but at this certain age Medicare premiums are proof to the contrary.  Only my healthcare providers need know.  I’m having the time of my life!

A new love appears.   I am now 66 and still “young”.   How many 66 year olds find a new love?  “AARP, you can keep that card and those discounts for old people.”

Traveling the world, starting my own consulting practice, horseback riding with my grandson, skiing down a black diamond ski slope – is this what an old Geezer does?  I couldn’t really be 66 years old.

Fast forward six more years.  WAIT! What is that ache in my knee?  It seems to be getting worse.  Sometimes, I have to stop walking altogether and rest.  Other times I can’t continue at all.  Walks in the woods to see the autumn colors are no longer appealing. Even my beloved bike riding is at risk.  Each turn of the wheel brings stabs to my knee. I’m now on the disabled list.

My friends are having knees and hips replaced.  Maybe it’s my turn.  Repeated consultations show I do have a knee problem, but it’s not yet “bone on bone”.  I guess that’s good.  Try physical therapy, take an Aleve.  You aren’t a candidate for knee replacement.”

Previous bouts with physical therapy never really helped, so I’m doubtful.  Even so, I discover Pam, physical therapist extraordinaire, and start regular treatment sessions.  Voila – after many months, my knee is about 90%.  Good enough for me, for walking in the woods again, and for traipsing through Italy with my grandson where we walked more than five miles daily for two weeks this past summer!

Still I’m reminded that disabilities may develop at any time.  My recurring urinary tract infections have now morphed into “overactive bladder”.   I can’t live through those stinging symptoms and the ever frequent urge to void.   Can this be fixed?  Find another specialist – a uro-gynecologist.  Who knew there was such a specialty?  At first I wonder if this means he’s from Europe or maybe his fees are in euros.  I tell him, I don’t want to go through every day thinking about my crotch?”  “Of course, he answers, only adolescent boys want to do that!”  I found the right doctor!

My overactive bladder is now resting.  Knee pain has abated.  Celebrex, Norvasc, Zocor, and baby aspirin help me stay healthy and keep off that dreaded “disabled list”.


La Dolce Vita in Cinque Terre

It took six months in 1998 to organize our jitter-filled lives around a two-week vacation in Vernazza, a thousand-year-old fishing village in Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera.

Vernazza RoccoRooco, Kristina, Mark and I left the 19th century train station and rolled our overstuffed suitcases 20 minutes up a cobblestone switchback twined in purple morning glories. Our home abroad sat 1300 feet above the Mediterranean Sea and overlooked a village of 1000 happy Italians. We arrived at LaTorre midday, when the sea is dark turquoise and the sun swells the nose-tickling lemon and olive trees.

LaTorre is a 13th century pirate lookout with a galley kitchen, a modern bathroom, a luminous living-dining area and an alcove captain’s bedroom. Three other beds were lofted into stacked platforms in a stone tower, and the only way to get to them was by rope ladders. We staked out our sleeping arrangements and headed back down the path to the village.

Like bloodhounds we followed the scent of ground basil and garlic around the village into a ristorante on the piazza at the harbor. Our first meal was homemade bread dipped in fresh pesto,Vernazza’s culinary legacy to the world.

Some days we hiked the village-to-village trail along the sea, returning to Vernazza by water taxi. Other days the train took us to Le Spezia, Portofino, Pisa Vernazzaand Lucca. At night we lounged on LaTorre’s heirloom terrace in front of the twinkling lights of passing boats on the navy blue horizon.

And then the phone rang.

John Funderburk  was on the line frantic to let me know that a journalist was about to call me wanting information about Monica Lewinsky. John was a fellow political appointee in the Clinton Administration and he recommended I consult with a lawyer before taking the call. Perfect vacation bliss was now teetering at the cliff of a darkened sea.

My D.C. job occasionally had me organizing publicity and logistics at events for the President’s appearance. In the Spring of 1997 I’d been advancing a small fundraiser in a Washington hotel when an old friend from Indianapolis came into the room through the metal detectors right after Monica Lewinsky. Lewinsky was known among advance people as a Clinton stalker, so I asked my Hoosier friend to shield the President from her potential clutch as he passed by.

A half a year later news broke about a Grand Jury investigation into Clinton’s relationship with former White House intern Lewinsky. Back in Indianapolis my friend panicked that he would be hauled before the Grand Jury. So he held a press conference about his brief encounter with Lewinsky – and mentioned my name.

The sudden jolt of reality stirred our Dolce Vita quartet in Italy to hatch hilarious mad scenarios to confound the intruding journalist. When the call came, Rocco answered. “Prrrronto! Si? Si? Sorry. No Inglese! Ciao!”

Che finito, we returned to our intermezzo between the acts of the crazy world.