As an influencer-dad I am frequently asked my advice on important topics.
If only that last sentence were true…
But I do like that term “influencer-dad”. I think I’ll stick with that. Maybe even put it in the tagline of the blog.
Anyway… my two adoring children do occasionally ask my advice. Usually, however, it is not on important topics. In fact they typically ask me things like “Hey Dad, how can I make sure my hair doesn’t fall out like yours?” or “Hey Dad, I have to write a report for history class on the Battle of Gettysburg. Can you tell me what it was like?” Answers? “Don’t have kids” and “I’m not actually that old”. On that second question I should be thankful they didn’t ask me to describe the Battle of Hastings.
As time goes by, though, I can attest that, despite my youthful visage, I am really getting older. I just don’t think of myself as “getting old”. I learned that trick from my mom. “Always being surrounded by so many kids,” she would say, “kept me young.” If that’s the case I should be positively fetal given the couple thousand high school kids I’ve taught over the years. You see, friends, I spend my days with the teen set. It’s hard not to stay young when you’re constantly immersed in the absolute latest slang, styles, and silliness.
And despite rumors to the contrary I have NEVER played the part of the middle-aged dad meme. I take that back. I do wear cargo shorts AND I put stuff in the pockets. What am I supposed to do? They’re useful, those pockets. Other than that and the strategically placed bad “dad joke” I like to think I am in control of the aging process. Look, if I can stare having my spine taken apart and fused back together and still be as active as I am I think I can handle a few more years on the old body.
Late last week I began feeling a sharp pain in my lower right leg. It’s a pain I’ve experienced on and off ever since I was in my late teens. It comes on roughly once every year or so and goes away after a few days. This time the pain intensified to where I had real difficulty walking by Saturday night. I chalked it up to having gone back to school, being on my feet all day, and switching shoes every afternoon (from black oxfords to sneakers). On Sunday morning my wife took note of me hobbling into mass and thought otherwise. “Go get an x-ray,” she insisted. You see it wasn’t just my ankle now but also my opposite knee and a couple of toes that I had broken about a month ago. I hate doing that – not because I dislike the medical profession but because of the time and expense involved. What could they tell me anyway? “You’ve clearly got some kind of old injury that flares up from time to time. Take Motrin and rest.” Also, it was Sunday so that meant either an ER which seemed like massive overkill or an urgent care center. I haven’t had a ton of luck with these places in the past.
I went in, taking my visiting sister with me for fun. She’s always good for a laugh. First they put me on a scale. A few lbs. heavier than I would have liked but not too bad. Blood pressure was a little elevated too but that’s a symptom of being in pain. “Do you smoke?” they asked. Still not sure what that has to do with anything. Also, it should be in my chart. I’m of a mindset that says “I want you to earn that degree. I’ll just sit here mute and let you figure it out.” I might even give them my copay if they get it right.
After a while a doctor came into the room. He asked some questions and then laid it out for me. Turns out it’s either gout or rheumatoid arthritis. Gout seems most likely so we’ll treat for that. Yep, it looks like my high-protein diet coupled with the fact that I went from drinking about a gallon of water a day to almost none set it off. On that last point, I intended to fill my water bottle frequently throughout the day but the amount of time between classes is really short especially when there are kids who need to be redirected into their classrooms under threat of demerits. He put me on an anti-inflammatory and everything seems to be un-inflaming.
Meanwhile my sister went all Jersey on the x-ray tech who thoroughly enjoyed the display. The kids (my own and my students) should get a kick out of this one. One more thing for them to mock about their “old” teacher. I was young once. The funniest thing is that when I was young I wasn’t interested in my fitness. Now that I’m old I find it crushing to be told not to workout until this or that malady heals. It’s tough but I’m embracing it as best I can. They say with age comes wisdom so there’s that.
“One more thing,” the doctor said to me. “For now you should avoid high protein foods.” That’s going to be really tough for me. Gotta get those gains somehow. “OK, doc, anything else?” I asked. “Oh yes,” he said, “try not to drink beer if possible.” And here’s where that wisdom kicks in. “Doctor,” I said, “I really don’t drink beer.” Then a long pause. “How’s gin?” “You should be fine!” said the medic.
See, I know how to game this getting old thing. Why a younger, more foolish man would want nothing to do with gin. On the other hand, the passage of time has taught me how to hate myself and others just enough to find drinking a bottle of infused perfume perfectly delightful. So when you hurt yourself because you’re old and that’s what old folks do, drink gin. And THAT is my advice to you, children.