Am I Better Off?

Lately, I’ve been hearing this question a lot:

Of course, no one’s actually asked me this as yet, but I figure it’s just a matter of time before they do. Who knows? Maybe it’ll be you doing the asking. So, I figure, might as well answer it now, on account that I’m chomping at the bit to tell you exactly how I’ve been doing these past four years. Though, you may very well regret you asked. (Oh, you didn’t ask? Well, that’s alright. I’m happy to tell you, anyway.)

Am I better off?

Truth be known, I could be better.

First, there’s the matter of my knee. It started acting up about a year ago when I was taking a class in leadership and someone got the bright idea to split us into teams for a scavenger hunt of sorts, as part of a team-building assignment. Next thing you know, we were plopped smack in the middle of the zoo, where we were given our marching orders. And marching we did! Along with running, trotting, jogging, climbing and descending, not to mention, dripping sweat, and gasping for air.

Because, if you know anything about the zoo in San Diego, you know it was built on a hill. Maybe even seven hills, like Rome. Only these hills are steep, whether you’re going down or up. And scavenger hunts, by their very nature, are designed to have you running around in all directions, willy-nilly.

Right away, the clock was ticking. We had an hour to find all the zoo animals on our list, and figure out the answer to a riddle about each. My friends, what you have here is a recipe for disaster, particularly for a woman of a certain age, who is well past 21.

In no time, my knee began to rebel from the brutal pummeling it was getting in my vain attempt to keep up with my team of thirty-something’s. By the next day, I was sore. Two days later I was aching. On the third day I was limping. All the ice and heating pads in the world did little to avail my pain.

Within a week I was incapacitated and a few weeks after that, my doctor referred me to physical therapy. My therapist took one look at me and I could tell at once he was skeptical I’d ever walk again. After one session, I was pretty sure he was ready to send me to the glue factory.

Completely defeated, I went home with a notebook of knee exercises he’d given me. Little by little, we began to see improvement, but, if you ask me, my knee has never been the same.

Then there’s the matter of the neck. Four years ago I still had a neck. Now, where my neck once was, there’s a mass of chicken flesh, all saggy and wrinkly with mottled skin where smooth skin had once been. The kind of neck that screams, “Look at me! I’m as  old as the hills!”

Now, I know what Nora Ephron meant when she said she felt bad about her neck. And, why Diane Keaton wears scarves all the time and other protective gear to hide her skin. Which is why, I’m thinking of wearing a scuba helmet when I go out. After all, I’d go to any lengths to disguise this neck.

While we’re on the subject, have you seen my eyes lately? Let’s just say, from now on, it’s dark sunglasses 24/7. Jack Nicholson, you’ve got the right idea!

And, we won’t even discuss those extra pounds of late, from all that rich, European chocolate that tastes–OMG, let me see if I have any left! Nope.


So, am I better off? Heck, no!

Not better off, not by a long-shot. So, thanks for nothing, President Obama! Take that, Governor Romney!

Yep, the verdict’s in: I’m not better off!

I beg your pardon? What’s that you say? That’s not what this question is all about? Hmm…

Well then, never mind. I’m fine. Thank you very much.

38 thoughts on “Am I Better Off?

  1. Giggling. My knees nor my back are in as good a shape as they were four years ago. BUT, I am no longer with Crazypants bf, *and* my balance sheet and 401-k are in MUCH better shape.

  2. I’m glad your knee has improved a little. Limping is definitely bad… throws off your entire body. That’s how I wound up with hip troubles. Luckily, like you, I’ve managed to heal enough to keep from causing myself more problems.

    And I agree with you 100% that the “better off” question is senseless. There are way too many variables that have nothing to do with the politicians. I’m not going to blame them for my troubles or let them take credit for my happiness. Life goes up and down no matter who is in charge.

    P.S. I have a great collection of pretty scarves and I encourage you to find some you love. They do wonders for the neck and fall is coming, believe it or not. 🙂

    • Shary, you sum it up so nicely. The “Better off” question is rather senseless. Why put the pressure on our politicians to ensure our satisfaction and happiness? They have enough on their plate. I am better off in someways, not so much in others, and Father Time and Mother Nature have more to do with it, than anything else.

      I do have a few scarves, and I can’t wait for the cooler weather so I can start using them.

  3. I am sorry about your knee and I hope it does heal completely, but I can so relate to all of it and you had me in stitches with your descriptions of each ailment. I think the saying is “getting old is not for sissy’s” 🙂

    • Thanks, Misty. I’m not sure it’ll ever heal completely, but it’s certainly manageable. I can cope just fine. And you’re right about the aging thing. Don’t like it. Don’t like it one bit. I always thought aging is what happens to other people, not me. But here it is. Globbed on to me like nobody’s business. 😉

  4. Monica, you always make me chuckle! Don’t get me started on my knees, or my flabby arms, or my tummy pooch. Dear Lord, where have my original body parts gone to? I feel that after a certain age, it’s down hill all the way. Why do you think I’m terrified of aging? That said, I think there has to come a time when we realize that there’s certain allure, uniqueness, and cachet to being “vintage.” After all, I hear it’s all the rage lately! We may be older, amiga, but we’re also wiser. And smarter. And a hell of a lot funnier! Thank goodness for our gift of embracing what life gives us! 🙂

    • Thanks, Bella. Bottom line, the point I’m making is this: who among us can say we’re better off? Fact of the matter is, the clock is ticking for all of us. With age comes issues that cannot be controlled by presidents. And why do we have to be better off every four years? Why can’t towing the line or being the same as four years ago, be enough? Whoever is in the White House is not necessarily the benchmark for determining if we’re better off? I could win the lottery tomorrow or under any administration and you bet, suddenly, I’m better off. That’s sheer luck and nothing to do with who’s the POTUS. Sorry, these arguments that are raised by the politicians get me so frustrated.

  5. —Now, I know what Nora Ephron meant when she said she felt bad about her neck—


    I remember watching Ephron begin interviewed and she said, “All of my friends over 60 wear turtle-necks & scarves!


  6. Chicken neck? I have it, too. When I clean out my closet I *never* get rid of scarves.

    The older you get, the more everything drifts downward. The flat stomach is no more. Droopy boobs. And I have what I call elephant knees – you know, that saggy stuff that is stopped only by your knee joint.

    And it doesn’t matter what you weigh; you can be thin and all of the above will still apply.

    I will say one thing – this is the only time in my life when I have had any bone structure in my face. I have cheekbones!!! I would have appreciated them showing up sooner. Truth is, all my facial fat has been contributed to the chicken neck.

    Which is where scarves come in. And turtlenecks!

  7. Think positive Monica – you will never need to do team-building assignments again, you will always have a warm neck, you will look like a reclusive, mysterious movie star with your dark sunglasses and your extra pounds convey your sophisticated, decadent European tastes 🙂

  8. Monica, you had me in stitches, yet again. I really thought you were going to talk about affordable medical care. Sorry about your knee, that’s awful. I like you, just the way you are. I don’t have knee issues but I have back problems, I’m hoping conitinuous yoga will keep it at bay. I did enjoy the seven hills of Rome reference, in particular, such a giggle you are.
    I am now off to bake my daughter’s birthday cake. She just turned 7. Party is tomorrow, I have to get my mind around a bright purple daisy with a yellow middle – and a please mum! make it yummy, request.

    • So glad to hear that, MM. But know that the knee is much better these days (knock on wood), so rumors that my new nickname is Pegleg Pete are premature. Haven’t had to replace my knee–yet. Hope the birthday cake turned out well. Purple daisies and a yellow middle sound divine. 🙂 Happy Birthday, Lil’ MM!

  9. This is so funny Monica and the sad thing is, I can relate, although my ails are my shoulders, my elbow (which was just diagnosed yesterday as tennis elbow and I don’t play tennis), and my back. But the funniest part is to envision you wearing a scuba helmet :>)

    • It may very well come to wearing a scuba helmet, Susan. I’m at the end of my rope after all. I am currently checking out the Amazon and Costco websites to see if either sells it. Beats plastic surgery, if you ask me. 😉

  10. This is so funny Monica. Here I thought it was going to be a serious pre Race 2012 post. I am so sorry to hear about your knee though. I blew my left one out doing ballet at the age of 19. My left knee is chronologically the same age as my right, but in knee-years it’s about three decades older. Still dance and run, etc, but it’s my “trick” knee, won’t ever be the same.

    As for our necks … I love scarves!!! They are prettier and last longer than smooth skin. (Ask me how I feel in a decade.) 🙂

    • Lisa, I wear scarves, too. But we’ve had such a hot summer and it’s still going strong. So there’s no way I can put anything around my neck. Just have to keep it exposed, much to the horror of all those around me. Sigh.

  11. Oh, Monica, you crack me up! Sorry to hear about your knee issues, but at least it’s just one, right? Though I guess you really need BOTH to walk, don’t you? Perhaps the fashion designers need to come up with something to camouflage “saggy” necks — turtlenecks do wonders, but you probably don’t need them in Southern California. Maybe a trip to the Rockies is in order?? A ski lodge sounds pretty good!

    • Thanks, Debbie. My knee issues are much better now. But for a while there, it was touch and go. Was about to get myself a cane (as the physical therapist said limping was doing more damage (to the other knee) than good. Luckily, something started to work, which helped me get pass that phase. It was a thrill to be able to walk normally again. But you won’t see me running, or trotting, anytime soon.

  12. Sure didn’t expect that sorta earful. Googly goo. You’re a car skidding on ice toward the dump truck. We need to make some signs and picket the White House for you to get weekly massages to your knee and a neck tuck. Since it’s a pre-existing condition, the Affordable Healthcare Act should be able to hook you up.

    • How descriptive, Totsy! I am a car skidding away. Probably just behind that dump truck is a cliff. And, here’s to pre-existing conditions! They’re a fact of life! From the moment we’re born, we have a pre-existing condition, that being our own mortality.

  13. Oh dear sorry to hear of your ailments.

    It’s old age, I am having treatment for odds and ends at the moment, if I go to the doctors any more I expect to be invited to the staff Christmas party there.

    Still it could be worse I keep telling myself.

    Have you ever noticed with things like knees it’s always just one that goes, I mean why not both after all they are both the same age, that’s one of the things that puzzles me. I could understand the left knee going first if when walking we only turned left but life is not like that!!

    I remember many years ago that the then prime minister I think it was said “You have never had it so good!!” Somebody replied “Some of us have never had it!!”

    See British humour at work there.

    Personally I can never see the point of women who go for plastic surgery, I mean why pay good money to have a stiff face set so that you have the look of somebody who has just sucked a lemon. The same with boob jobs, why have young looking boobs on an old body? It’s like buying bananas and finding two in their prime but the rest of the bunch just about ready for the bin (Trash Can for American readers).

    From your pictures Monica and as a amateur on this subject you will understand I think you look just fine, so take that as a compliment not that it’s worth much but be assured it’s honest, after all I am not charging you for it!!!

    Have a great weekend.

    • Yes, Robert, it does rather seem as if it’s only one that goes, leaving you with one good knee, in my case, and one okay knee. I’m not complaining as it has gotten better. It’s now the new normal. Better, but not 100 per cent better. And that’s a fact.

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