Being 55

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?

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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.  

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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.Screenshot 2020-02-13 20.11.12.png

Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who is happy to have birthday carrot cake in her freezer.

18 thoughts on “Being 55

  1. Argh. Hugs. Not much more to say than that. Bodies are work. But it sometimes help me to remember that inactive people have worse injuries. Our bodies need to move. We just have to help them sometimes. More hugs. I’ve been two months without menstruating. Hope this is finally it!

  2. Cate, feel better!! I had a ping in my back in November and it was SO deflating and then, like you, made me just feel more tender toward the need to address things, instead of ignore. Persisting only works in some arenas. Enjoy the carrot cake!

  3. Yikes. Rest, see the osteopath!
    I am post belted pads (48) and I feel too old now to bother learning how to use the diva cup. Cardboard tampons it is…I did get a good number of years off pregnant, breastfeeding and 3 years from starving. Not a good option as I now get stress fractures.
    The period panties are an excellent choice you young women…my dd got her period at 10. It was erratic and very heavy and those panties were a lifesaver.

  4. Oh no, so sorry to hear you’ve injured yourself! Take good care, I hope it gets easier soon!
    I personally have embraced the menstrual cup. I find it so much more convenient than tampons – pop it in and go about your day without having to worry every few hours if it’s leaking already.

  5. SI joints are pesky little buggers. The first one went at 53 and the second at 57 — hmm, is this a trend for post-50 fitties? I hope you feel better soon.

  6. 43 and a pesky SI (and piriformus) for me! I understand your pain too well. I hope you get on top of it soon and back to the things you love. Happy Birthday!!

  7. Sorry to hear about the SI grief! My low back and I had a rough 2019. Somehow all my gallbladder issues culminating in surgery helped return my back to working order… Not sure how or why, and I certainly don’t recommend that as a solution, but it was nice relief not to be dealing with both at the same time. 😉

    1. This is not the first time I’ve heard this weirdly. Had a client who had his gallbladder out and his lower back issues disappeared. Weird isn’t it?

  8. Yup – the adventures! I suffered mightily with SI joint ouchies (unable to tie my own shoes, just immobilized), got -some- relief from the chiropractor. After weeks of suffering, I decided to try the PT and he taught me a self-reset that fixed it in less than 5 minutes and I now use that reset all the time! It’s pretty much laying on your back, crunching up, grabbing one leg under the knee and resisting that knee out while the other leg lies flat (breathing out, 3-5x til it’s back in place). Nothing fancy! Of course, don’t try this at home without solid professional advice – just letting you know it’s potentially a faster fix than you might think.

  9. I scrolled down the Reader, and being ten days from turning 55, I had to stop here and read this post first!
    I’m reassured. And motivated.
    I claimed young years in gymnastics as my reason for achy joints and only do handstands against a wall for security.
    If it weren’t for being a surgical nurse, the burning in my leg would have gone unaddressed, but I had a suspicion… a co-pay and MRI later leaves me now cautious. A herniated disc – dammit!
    But sites like this remind me that a consistent exercise regime will help manage it. So, thanks!

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