Today, because I’m away from home, enjoying a vacation with family, I am offering a “re-blog.” I originally published this story in May of 2013. As that’s almost three years ago, I’m thinking it may be new to some readers. Others may have forgotten about it. I may have forgotten it myself, except that the the very issue I write about has once again been keeping me up at night. So, though it’s a little bit of a cheat, I offer a re-posting of what I titled,
Old Age…or Life in the Woods?
Odd question, right?
Of course I’m old. Not that old…but old enough.
My house was built on the front, semi-cleared area of a woodlot. This was a farmstead over a hundred years ago. Large maple trees with rock piles at their bases mark the old boundaries of the plowed fields. Still, the woods want to move back in.
We removed a dozen small trees to make space for the foundation of this little house. In the thirty years since, I have removed a dozen more – as well as over a hundred wild juniper – to make room for a garden, and to have a small lawn. I’m having three overgrown, diseased wild cherry trees removed this year, along with a pine tree that is threatening to take out my electrical service in every big wind.
Clearly, I live in the woods.
So, two questions; the answer to both is yes. One would think one has nothing to do with the other. And yet…
My sister, Brenda has developed “floaters”. Fortunately, I developed them several years ago, so I could enlighten and advise.
Brenda is one year and twenty days older than me. She hit puberty a full three years before I did. She reached adulthood at least ten years ahead of me. Maybe more. Being the oldest child in our large family, Brenda had to grow up fast, to allow me and the other younger siblings our “slacker” childhood.
She may be making up for that now.
Retired, Brenda is having quite a bit of fun. She and her husband are on their way to Seattle right now, to get on a cruise ship. And, although (did I mention?) she is one year and twenty days older than me, Brenda is far behind me in all areas of aging, from menopause to wrinkles. Now it’s the “floaters.”
There was no one to advise me. It is one of those aspects of aging that nobody talks about. Until you are diagnosed. Then everyone says, “Oh, that, yes that’s been driving me crazy for years.”
It makes me wonder what other secrets are waiting.
Floaters, in case you don’t know, are caused by the stiffening and separation of layers of the eyeball, usually due to age. It causes the afflicted to see tiny dark spots moving in their peripheral vision, randomly and annoyingly.
Because no one had advised me of this, and because I live in the woods, I didn’t know I had floaters.
I thought it was “no-see-ums.”
No-see-ums: the tiny black, biting gnats that come out in swarms in the Spring of the year. Because the wind will carry them away, they like to get inside the ears, behind the eyeglasses, under the collar or at the hairline. There, they take an enormous bite with their tiny jaws, usually leaving blood running and an itchy welt.
They look amazingly the same as floaters.
For months, I was waving away insects. I was complaining to others, “aren’t the no-see-ums terrible this year?” and “do they always last this long into the Fall?”
Finally, it started to dawn on me that this was a vision issue rather than a living-in-the-woods problem.
Then I wondered about a detached retina. Or a stroke. Or several other scary scenarios.
Lucky Brenda – not living in the woods – thought about stroke right away!
I went to the Medical Center, and then to the Eye Doctor. Everyone assured me that it was a normal – albeit secret – part of aging. They told me coping strategies that I was later able to pass on to Brenda, in my new role of “expert on aging.”
Now, this year, after what seemed like an exceptionally long winter, Spring has arrived on Beaver Island. What a noisy Spring it has been, too!
I’d lay down at night and hear loud chirping. Such pleasant sounds of the season! Birds…at night? Was it the little peepers? Crickets? I read somewhere this was going to be a tremendous year for Cicadas. Maybe I was hearing Cicadas.
After several nearly sleepless nights spent trying to decide what life form was making the sounds that were keeping me awake, I decided to try earplugs. No offense to Spring and all of the sounds of the season, but I need my sleep.
Oddly enough, the sounds are just as loud with ears plugged.
Come to find out, once again this has nothing to do with living in the woods.
It seems I have Tinnitus.
I’ve heard, at least, of Tinnitus. A problem of the inner ear (most often associated with age) that results in a buzzing or ringing in the ear.
Or, as in my case, the sound of Springtime in the woods.