I am going to be 43 this year. As I have gone through life, I have looked at my aging as a ridiculous obstacle that existed in my head. I am young still, active, healthy, and full of energy. This age thing is nothing more than some fear instilled in us by society.
A funny thing happened though. In my mid-30s, I started feeling lethargic. I was not sure why. I gained weight and slowed down – no matter how hard I worked. That sense of youth and vigor was slipping away. There was no real reason it happened. It was not like I rolled over one morning and decided to stop feeling and being young. So, after a couple of years, the doctor finally did a blood test checking my hormone levels to discover that my testosterone was depressingly low. All of the regular remedies were tried until finally it was determined that I need to take synthetic testosterone. Yep, you heard that right – anabolic steroids. Before all the guys start high fiving and say “eureka!”, it was determined that I should take one of the weaker ones and in controlled weekly doses. Boy, it made a huge difference and I noticed it right away. Let me tell you, it is like the fountain of youth. Really…increased muscle mass, libido, energy, vigor, and so many wonderful effects when you inject it properly.
But, along the way I have noticed a few things and I want to share my experiences with everyone.
- Eyesight – I started noticing my eyesight getting a little wonky about two years ago. I love to read and enjoy reading a variety of things, but reading a book was becoming harder and harder. Went to the doctor for a vision test. My vision is still considered 20-20. How could this be? Well, the test measures some basic lines of letters read at a certain distance. That is pretty easy. However, up close was a different story. I needed corrective lenses, readers, but still, corrective lenses. Me being the problem solver I am asked the doctor what it would take to fix my eyes. LASIK? Some other procedure? I was ready to pay it. He looked at me and smiled and said these simple words – “son, you can’t fix age”.
- Gym time – This gets harder everyday. Waking up at 5 or 6 in the morning is not as easy as it once was. The body remembers the moves, but sometimes executing them is not as easy. Oh, I can still do all the moves, but I have to look at which lifts and techniques will complement an aging body as opposed to simply doing what I want. How do I know this? I have a scar on my shoulder from surgery telling me this. Don’t go thinking that I tried to lift too much or lifted carelessly. My shoulder simply decided that it had enough. I asked the doctor what was happening when he checked me – “well, you have a degeneration of the end of the bone. You are getting older. You’ll need a distal clavicle resection”. Then he suggested I give up regular bench press and other lifts that strained the shoulder in favor of lifts that were easier on my joints. I never recalled this conversation in my teens or college days, but it is not really a bad one to have. Just something I noticed with age.
- Fatigue – Here we go with the baby stuff. Being a dad at any age is exhausting. Being a dad at 40 something is just plain hard. Whether you have done this before or are starting over like me, it is just hard. At this age, many of my contemporaries are talking about being grandparents soon. Heck, some even are grandparents! But, I started over. The beauty of the grandparent thing is that when you tire of the screaming baby, you hand him over to mom and dad and you leave. Not so when you are dad. Fatigue sets in as you have to deal with everything all the time. Up three or four times a night (on a good night) and disrupting sleep cycles that your aging body needs more than ever. It leaves you feeling tired a lot of the time. And this is because my job is easy compared to my wife.
- Retirement – Yeah. I threw that in there. Retirement. When you hit 40, at least in my mind, you start to look at your exit plan from this working life. A word you never thought you would think about becomes a reality. Retirement. First, just a word of caution – think about it when you are 18. Start early so you can possibly retire early. Me, I started a wee bit later than I should have. I accept that choice, but it does not mean I do not think about it. Having a child has changed that idea for me. I can technically keep my son on my health plan until he is 26. I have a very good health plan. I can make sure he has no student loan debt. I can do a lot of things to give him a leg up. But, 26 is the magic number. I am 42. The math sucks, but you do what you have to for your children.
There are a few others, but I have to get ready for work. I will expand on this at some point. For now, these are the things I notice the most about being a dad at 40 something. It is a challenge. It is not easy. Make no mistake, the reward is great! But, it requires patience, sacrifice, careful planning, and a change in how you see the world and your place in it. It might be subtle for some while major for others, but if you enter into this adventure and change nothing about yourself or your thinking, then you are doing it wrong. Think about that. It is not an attack, but a simple statement of truth. Being a dad forever changes things and forever changes you.