Archive for May 16th, 2017

Are you ever Too Old?

May 16, 2017

When you’re twenty you’re invincible. Fit. Beautiful. Fast. When you’re twenty, you’re going to live forever.

Three decades later, you tiptoe around life, careful not to trip, mindful of stepping on landmines. Three decades later and you’re aware of every ache, every anomaly.

An anomaly sees me explaining my symptoms to a London cardio. ‘It feels’, I say, ‘as if a big moth is trapped somewhere between my throat and my sternum’. He straps me to a monitor which I must wear for a week, shows me the button I must  punch every time the moth stretches its wings to fly, every time it flutters.  I do as I am told and when I return I am wired to more lines and instructed to ride a bicycle, hard, up a virtual hill which grows steeper by the minute. I do. I pedal until I can pedal no more, until my breathing is so laboured I can barely speak.

‘As I suspected’, says the cardio when he pronounces his findings, ‘ectopic heartbeats’. And perfectly normal.   If I’d had them at 20, I’d have been living too hard, too fast, too eternally confident that I was going to live forever that I wouldn’t have noticed. Thirty years later and I move at a more sedate, cautious speed, slow enough that I feel the blips.

I cannot decide whether my growing sense of mortality is because I mind that the years are racing by – mind not for the lines which etch themselves into my face but for the slipping of time when there is still so much to do – or because I need to be here to shadow my children, to be there to catch the fallout when they need me to be there to catch it.

I toy with a new project, ‘am I too old’, I ask Ant, ‘to start something new?’

‘You’re never too old’, he says.

I must live, it seems, mindful that my physiology is a little frayed at the edges, but with the confidence I’m going to live until I’m 100.

There’s still time.