Remember that time (2 long weeks ago!) when I was a week away from turning 55 and I wrote about turning 55 and deadlifting 200lbs?
Then I turned 55. And — hyperbole alert — I broke a hip.
Not really. I did something unpleasant to my SI joint in my lower back.
Here’s what happened:
I was doing a personal training thingy with my favourite coach, and it was all full of joy. I warmed up, then did some front squats, and some pike shoulder taps, and some skipping, and some cartwheels-into-handstands, and some freestanding handstand practice. Then I was trying to get the rhythm right for double-unders in skipping, and suddenly bang, sharp horrible pain in my lower back ow ow ow wobble lie down.
This Week of Being 55 is giving me some Things to Think About regarding my body. I’m super strong, and committed to fitness, and MAYBE before I hurl myself upside down or add more weight to that bar, I really need to pay attention to that little hip tilt I’m noticing in my squat as I come up. (Turns out it’s all because of an immobile ankle. Which I’ve known about for years. Fix these things, kiddos!). Because there’s nothing to make you feel more like an old lady than to lumber around with your hand on your lower back going “oh my hip.”
And then there’s this: on my 55th birthday, I bought tampons. Because, still menstruating. I’m a very famous elderly menstruator — my post about being 53 and still menstruating is consistently one of our top posts. I updated last summer, noting that I wasn’t feeling so chipper about still bleeding. Well, let me tell you, buying tampons on your 55th birthday and then realizing that Shoppers recently raised the seniors’ discount age to 65 just feels… mean.
At my birthday party, my friend Jenn joked that I could uniquely be a person who takes up roller derby at 55, with the derby name “Seniors’ Discount.”
The scope of my menstruating life has been quite epic.
I started in the Are You There God, it’s Me Margaret era of belted maxipads, switching to the first adhesive (thick, bulky) napkins in my first year or so. Periods 1 through 24 or so, pads. Periods 24 – 59 or so, cardboard applicator tampax, with an occasional foray into the plastic applicator tampons (scented! plastic that washes up on beaches!)
For most of my menstruating life, from period 60 to … what, 550? or so? I’ve used non-organic, non-applicator tampons. (I have a theory that this is in 98th percentile of Total Number of Periods for One Person in history, given the dropping age of menarche and that most women in earlier eras had years and years of no bleeding because of pregnancies and breastfeeding and starving and suchlike. Yay overachiever.)
Among those trusty OBs, I’ve had the occasional eco-feminist dip into reusable products. (Of the era of sponges and pads bought at the store that sold crystals, we shall not speak).
As I wrote in my initial post, there have been an explosion of period trends in the past decade that have passed me by — the diva cup, IUDs and birth control pills that stop periods altogether, the explosion of period absorbing underwear. (An ad for which was filmed — full circle here — at my gym. All these millennials with all these menstrual options to sit alongside their climate anxiety and intergenerational tension).
Tampons, topical analgesic, advil. So what I’m saying here is, so far, being 55 hasn’t been a picnic from a physical perspective. On top of the cramps, and the lumbago (okay, fine, torqued SI joint), I’ve had a weird cold that has made my eyes stream, and a persistent headache from the valtrex I’m taking from the accompanying cold sore.
But here’s what I do know: this is just one week in February, not The Rest of My Life, and I’m still a person who has loved exploring handstands and heavy lifting this year, for the first time ever. I have some pretty good triceps and my calves are pretty damned awesome. And I have an amazing community of middle aged peeps who are also weathering waning strength, disruptive injuries, and a deep desire to live fully and joyfully in our bodies.
To quote the immortal Leslie Knope, Happy Galentines Day, peeps. You beautiful land mermaids. Thanks for being such a great community.
Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who is happy to have birthday carrot cake in her freezer.