Several years ago my aunt who is now in her nineties told me that she found her golden years were slightly tarnished.
I was puzzled. She seemed to be in pretty good shape. “What do you mean?” I asked.
“It’s Arthur,” she replied.
I couldn’t think of anyone named Arthur who might create problems for this lady. “Who?” I asked.
“Arthur Itis,” she answered. “ When he comes I can’t get around worth a darn!”
We all laughed, and my aunt shifted her legs trying to find a more comfortable position.
Visits from Arthur Itis were way down the road for me then, but I had met his nephew, Gout.
When the doctor diagnosed the extreme pain in my foot as gout I was sure he was wrong. Gout was an ailment of old men like Captain in the old Katzenjammer Kids comics.
He always sat in his chair with his bandaged foot propped up.
Supposedly the Captain’s problem was caused by indulging in really rich foods. Now I’ll admit I seldom turn down any chocolate, but rich foods? I didn’t think so.
After some investigation I found my dietary culprit was the broccoli and cauliflower I ate everyday for lunch because it was so easy to pack and I liked it. That really seemed unfair, getting a pain in the foot from eating healthful foods.
I modified my diet by eating school cafeteria fare most of the time, and gout, or “inflammation of the pedal digits” as I preferred to call it, became an infrequent visitor.
Next I bought a really neat cane at a clearance sale, and after I learned how to use it, I kept on the move most of the time.
The worst part of the occasional gout bouts that forced me to sit still with my foot propped up was surveying all the housework that I should have been doing, but probably wouldn’t, even if I didn’t have gout.
Now that I’m a certified senior citizen I, too, have met Arthur Itis, and he is a real pain!
As I look around our town I see a lot of others have met him too. Those of us he visits are easily identified.
Before rising from our seat in any public place we first push back and try to place our feet in the direction we plan to go. Then we run our hands down the tops of our legs to our knees to warn them they are about to move.
Next we grab whatever is close enough to provide stable support, and heave our seats up from the chair as we plant our feet more firmly in “go” position.
Standing, we pause, take a deep breath, and as soon as we are sure everything is ready to move forward, we shuffle off, trying to look nonchalant.
So, fair warning to the younger generations, if you see a s
senior citizen rising to an occasion, stand back. Once we get it all in gear, we go!
Editor’s Note: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on October 14, 1998.