Sixty-Five And Loving It

Robert P. Herbst

© Copyright 2001 by Robert P. Herbst

There are a great many advantages to being 65+ which is what I became on March 16, 2000. I think I’ll take a moment out of
my busy schedule to high light a few of them. I guess the first and best is that I start to collect my Social Security and I don’t
have to pay income taxes any more. This one item alone almost makes the whole thing worth while.

Although I have past my 65th birthday I am not necessarily decrepit. I am diabetic but it hasn’t slowed me down that much.
When I was first diagnosed as being diabetic, I really thought my world had come to an end. The doctor described in glowing
detail exactly what was going to happen to me.

The nerve endings in my feet and hands would die. Then my feet and hands, without feeling in them, would get cut and I
wouldn’t know it. Without knowing that I was cut, the affected member would get infected. Then in about three or four months,
if I didn’t catch it, the part would fall off.

When he was finished, I really had a vision of my being followed from place to place by a trail of discarded body parts. Of
course, if none of the above happened, I could always go blind. That, of course, would not leave a trail unless it happened while
I was in a china shop.

This isn’t exactly how I had envisioned my “Golden Years”. Something had to be done, and done quickly while I still had all my
parts in working condition. Note here that I didn’t say “good” working condition. I was satisfied if they still worked at all.

First and foremost was to lose weight. I weighed in at a hefty 350 pounds about ten years ago. Way to much for my 6 foot 4
inch frame to carry about. I just love to eat and my consumption of soda pop was legendary. Starting back in 1987, when first
diagnosed, I started losing weight.

Now at 220 pounds, average daily weight, my consumption of soda pop is down from two to four liters a day to a mere glass
full on rare occasions. I no longer buy chocolate by the pound but only a bar now and again over a thirty day period. The food I
eat is now a single healthy meal each day with snacks in between. Lets not kid each other, it was no easy task to do this but my
options were limited.

I had already quit hard liquors in 1956, smoking five packs of cigarets a day in 1969 then in 1984 I quit all beer and wine. To
stop eating should have been a breeze. But it wasn’t.

Then in 1998 I met my lovely Ukrainian bride Lyudmila, through the E-MAIL on the American Singles Web Site. At the time I
weighed in at 240 pounds and I was shooting 36 units of insulin twice a day. This was a good trick as I just hate needles.

Well, Lyudmila put me on an even more austere diet and I lost another twenty pounds. My doctor was so pleased he told me
that I could quit insulin and start taking pills so long as I remained under 240 pounds.

You now have the picture up to now. I had remarried, lost over 100 pounds since being diagnosed as diabetic, I had turned 65
and had found a way to manage my caloric intake. That’s the good part.

Unfortunately, I had already lost the feeling in my feet and finger tips. With this in mind I tried even harder to remain in the best
shape I could. Still, the occasional infection sets in and seems to resist healing forever.

I am now subject to skin rashes that appear out of no where and resist the strongest medication. Recently I was told that these
rashes could be controlled but not prevented. It’s just one more thing I will have to learn to live with.

With advanced diabetes, one must also understand that sex is only a dim memory. Without feeling in that particular extremity,
it’s questionable if even “Viagra” would help. There is no way I can find any advantage to this part of my new life. Still, at my
age, I’m really not interested in starting a new family or chasing about after gals half my age.

I can look at a pretty girl and think to myself, “Gee! There’s a pretty girl.” and go right back to what I was doing without
another thought towards sex. Lyudmila isn’t exactly happy about this but nothing in life is really perfect.

I sometimes wonder if my lovely bride understands what’s going on inside me. For my birthday she gave me a big box of
chocolate candy, ice cream and a big, beautiful chocolate cake.

While munching on a crust of bread and drinking a glass of water, I watched my lovely wife and my stepson consume my
birthday gifts. It’s at moments like this that I fully realize just how fortunate I really am.

Just think, she could have given me a big piece of chocolate cake and watched me savor every crumb as it slid down my throat.
She could have forced me to consume a whole dish of vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup and sat there unmoved as I placed
each spoonful in my mouth. Last but not least, she and her son could have placed the box of chocolate in front of me at every
opportunity saying, “Its yours, why don’t you have some?” But NO! They spared me this torture and ate it all right there in front
of me.

She wants me to go for walks with her but if I do and step on something sharp I’m in big trouble. The doctor tells me to wear
loose shoes but if I do this and go for a walk the lose shoes wear blisters in my feet which I don’t feel. Granted, walking is
healthy and I should do more of it. But at what point do I say, “enough!” By saying “enough” quickly, I get to sit at the
computer longer and this I enjoy. It gives me a chance to write more stuff.

As my fingers disjoint rather rapidly, I’m spared the little projects around the house that usually fall on a husbands shoulders.
When asked to help out washing dishes or the like, I need only let a dish slip from my grasp back into the water, say “ouch”.
Hold up my crippled hand and let Lyudmila reset my disjointed fingers. The same holds true of pot scrubbing, pushing a broom
or washing windows.

This word, “Ouch” is a very powerful word when one gets old. I have found that by pointing to a foot or a hand and saying,
“OUCH!” I can avoid conscription into the most menial of household tasks.

When people call seeking donations, I need only say, “I’m on Social Security and I don’t have any money.” and they go away
quickly. This also works quite nicely on insurance sales people.

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