Ageing makes a delightful team sport with friends

22:38, Aug 01 2014

We all have little markers of age as life goes by, your first wrinkle, a grey hair, someone slipping a rest home prospectus in with your mail.

Sometimes the signs are subtle. For instance, you might be able to maintain a cross-legged position but unfolding yourself and returning to upright human form takes longer than it did the previous year.

You think twice before joining nieces and nephews on a trampoline because despite believing in your high school gymnastic talents, there is no faith in your bladder control.

For me, my left hip went. I was running one day, limping the next and saying things like: "Oooh, me hip."

It was a week out from the Christchurch Marathon and I'd entered the 10km. I was partly annoyed to miss it because who wants to be hurt? But there was some secret relief because I wasn't exactly match fit.

The pain was intermittent. It depended how I'd slept, how I sat, which way the wind was blowing and whether I could be bothered making my own cup of tea or not.


A month later, I ran again but barely got around the corner before coming up lame. It was frustrating. Two months of the hippy, hippy-aches. I was convinced this marked the start of a collection of Tupperware joints.

Luckily I have enough twisted and skeletally deformed friends to have recommendations for physiotherapists coming out my ears.

The lovely physio asked a lot of questions followed by poking, a good measure of painful prodding and finally some good news that it wasn't an age- related injury, it's just a muscle tear and with a few months of caution and exercises, I should be right as rain.

The exercise I must perform twice daily, according to my notes, is called 'The Clam'. The Clam has no ladylike aspects to it. It involves lying on my side with a rubbery band around my knees, ankles together but knees opening and closing like, well, like a clam.

It is difficult to find a private place in the office to do The Clam. I am unsure if work is a clam-friendly space.

During the quake years, when The Press newsroom was a series of portacabins out by the airport, we had a dear colleague called Giles. He was one of those lanky fellows destined for a bad spine. He used to come into my portacabin to perform The Cobra at least once a day. I kind of liked that because it felt respectful in some ways having a colleague genuflect at my feet.

The Clam, however, would provide no- one with a feeling of respect. Perhaps confusion or disgust.

Anyway, the physio also noticed I had minor curvature of the spine. I suppose most people would have vague concerns about a bend in a thing that is supposed to be straight but my best friend Hayley has scoliosis and basically looks like the Hunchback of Notre Dame when she bends over. So speaking relatively, I'm like an arrow.

This gives me greater motivation to stay friends with Hayley. She will shrink faster than me so if we do our groceries together as octogenarians, I will retrieve goods from the top shelves and she can do the lower shelf work.

I will let her know when her bald spot starts appearing and she can tell me if my ankles need shaving or when my toenails are curling dangerously.

Hey, now I think of it like that, ageing doesn't seem like such a bad thing if you make it a team sport.

The Press