Is it ever too late? Well, sure, when you stop breathing, when your heart stops or when you are Wiley Coyote and the Road Runner just dropped an anvil on your head. In the meantime, you’re alive. As far I know, I’m still alive; the question is do you and I have an expiration date?

I do have to confess there are days when parts of my body feel like they have passed their expiration date. I don’t feel curdled, like past date milk, but I do look curdled. This whole aging thing can be so depressing. I have a birthday rolling around and it has set me to wondering. I don’t squeak when I walk but I do click and pop a bit at times. I haven’t found any stamps on my body anywhere that state my expiration date is up, unless it’s hidden in a wrinkle somewhere. As a nurse I find it intriguing in a macabre sort of way that newborns enter the world with wrinkles, especially premature one and we leave the world with wrinkles. Newborns are self-focused and needy because they have to be for survival.  As infants we need diapers, and you know the rest if you know any elderly seniors, or actually anyone with that problem.  Life is a full-circle, indeed, but that doesn’t mean, because we live with daily pain that we have to start circling the drain.

I hate having a picture taken, up close, signs of aging and all. I do realize that sounds silly and shallow but there you have it; my confession. My family is used to looking at my decay. I guess I’ve been fooling myself. Now don’t give me that old line about, “You look great.” I don’t. “At least you’ve got your health.” I don’t. “But you have a family who love you.” Most of the time, I should say, that’s true. I remember my Mom used to say she felt young inside as she aged, except when she looked in the mirror. She lived to be 93. Which fairy tale was that with the “mirror, mirror on the wall?” Where are those magic mirrors when you need one? As I recall that involved a wicked witch and that’s the last thing I want to become.

Last week, I saw, up close and personal, the toll this past year has taken on my face, body and my health. I don’t want to be crass or embarrass anyone but the reality of living with one breast is with me constantly. Since I have had so much pain and tightness in my chest since surgery last year I have been “double bagging” it, or wearing two layers of clothing. I am discreet but with the latest physical therapy of the past three months I am almost back to full function except for the missing part. I thought I was at a point when I could actually go back to wearing a bra. I haven’t been able to see a professional fitter because the closest one is two hours away and my back and sitter have not allowed. I also didn’t feel ready yet due to the discomfort. The radiation therapy also caused me to have scoliosis which I am dealing with. A total car wreck would possibly explain it the best. Meanwhile, back to my story; I bought some padded bras and wore one the other day. It felt great but was still not quite right. I asked my daughter when they came over for pizza how she thought it looked, privately, of course. She said, “Well, Mom, the left one is smaller. I thought you bought an insert.”

I replied, “Well, I did but it’s too large. I guess I could buy one for the breast I have remaining but then it could be off balance. Then I have visions of ending up looking like Madonna in concert as I try to balance them out in front of me.”

We had a good laugh over that because I still think life is filled with humor. I must travel into Portland to get properly fitted. I must.

It’s all falling down. It’s one thing when your boobies descend as if reaching for the ground, but it is more heart wrenching when the prednisone induced jowls of your face fall to your shoulders. I lost thirty pounds in the last two years but apparently, fate is cruel and I lost it in all the wrong places. Please excuse me if I offend but I am here to announce, my ass is gone. Now, tell me, how can something that has disappeared still hurt this much? Life, you are so cruel.

When Jim got home from work I was still quite depressed, which was helped along by the usual pain everywhere. I told him, “Why didn’t you tell me I was getting so ugly? I can’t decide if I look more like Charlie McCarthy (the puppet of years gone by) or an apple doll (all wizened and dry). I used to be pretty, now I’m just sort of squidgy around the edges.”

After looking at me, as if for the first time, my dear husband, sitting on a kitchen stool prominently overweight, balding yet cute, stated, “Well, I don’t know,” while rubbing his protruding tummy, “I guess us glamorous people will just have to put up with you.”

I guess I have to officially announce that my expiration date is up. However, since I’m not a carton of milk, a medication or a carton of sour yogurt, I think I’ll just keep plodding along with what I have left. Mirrors will be covered, there will be no more pictures and I will continue to think I’m attractive as soon as I get over this current trauma. I’m also going to continuing going to physical therapy for another month so I can be all that I can be. That’s important to me to be able to live the fullest life possible.

I know the truth. We all age and should be glad if we’re still breathing. I know it’s never too late for second chances, new lives and all that. I also, truly know my heart and mind are still young. It will just take me awhile to get used to my shell falling apart. Remember that old camp song, “Do your ears hang low, can you wag them to and fro? Can you tie them in a knot, can you tie them in a bow?” Well, choose a part of your body, like sagging boobies and sing out, loudly. We’re never too old to laugh at ourselves, right?

I will also continue to flaunt my license plate holder that states, “SCREW THE GOLDEN YEARS.” Don’t look at me. I didn’t say it. The license plate holder did.