Counter Arts
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Counter Arts


Old Age is Not for the Faint-hearted

You go first — no, you go first!

Image by Vinzenz Lorenz M from Pixabay

I won’t be drawn into heated discussions about vaccination, the right to demonstrate our eroding freedoms, or whether to visit friends, shop, wear masks, dance, sing, spit in the street, or stand and squat over public toilets.

Neither am I educated enough to wax politically lyrical about megalomaniacal leaders invading other countries.

But I would like to inform you youngsters about what it’s like to be elderly in today’s changing world.

The, “In my day,” ramble:

With age comes the ability to mumble unintelligible phrases — “In my day, people spent years in iron lungs because of polio. Child mortality, even in countries like New Zealand, was appallingly high because of diphtheria, whooping cough, measles, mumps etcetera, until inoculations came along.”

Vaccines were administered in primary schools, sometimes without the prior consent or concern of parents. We were vaccine-initiated/educated before we could read.

We did not question the demands by teachers to sip little pink drinks from tiny cups, or strip to our underpants to walk an imaginary catwalk, viewed by a team of visiting medicos checking our spines for curvature.

I don’t remember ever mentioning the stripping thing to my parents over dinner.

We grew up surrounded by fears of the “Cold War” which was scary as hell, even though we had no idea what a cold war was. It was just another terrifying subject to whisper about whilst cowering under desks during earthquake, and air-raid drills.

“Children, remember to cover your eyes, in case of radiation!”

It was a different world.

Oldies navigating the pandemic:

Our initial reaction was disbelief, then horror. Then, later, we celebrated Covid vaccine potential.

Good citizens, we sanitized, deodorized, isolated(ized), and criticized those who breached our 1.5-meter virus-free zone. We used trolleys on offending shoppers and snarled at parents with snotty kids. No one dared to cough or sneeze, and I thought it was hilarious to tell strangers, “I used to cough to hide a fart, now I fart to hide a cough!”

We began to take the whole pandemic thing in our stride.

But, as conspiracy theories began to seep through misinformation channels, we considered some terrifying thoughts. What if China had manufactured a virus specifically to attack the elderly and infirmed? Was this an attempt to rid the world of the ever-increasing aging population?

Yay, thanks China!

The first vaccines were slated for the elderly. Was it because we were the most vulnerable, and needed to be protected, or were we going first because the virus was failing in its objective?

“Never mind — the vaccine will finish the work that the virus has started!”

Suddenly, we began to consider all sorts of frightening scenarios, as well as health issues. In the height of the pandemic, a whole generation of vaccine-conditioned oldies began to question the wisdom of getting that needle jab.

Enter vaccine side-effects: blood clots, heart attacks, vertigo, fever, breathing difficulties, to name a few. Many of us forgot to consider that these were common elderly ailments in a pre-pandemic world. Now, everything was the fault of the mysterious and scary vaccine.

It became a case of, “You go first, no you go first — I insist!”

Nowadays, I collect immune-related ailments the way that some people collect old coins.

Hey, great idea!

I could pop my ills into an old cigar tin and store them in the attic. When I die, someone, somewhere, will open the tin excitedly, and BAM, they’ll receive my whole collection, lock, stock, and inflammation!

Rambling aside, I took my anxieties to my specialist rheumatologist.

Me: “Do you advise my getting the Covid 19 vaccine?”

Doctor: “Hmm. Let me see. Get the vaccine — cause a few flareups for a few weeks, probably not die. Don’t get the vaccine, get Covid, almost certainly die.”

Yay, thanks Doc!

We finally scoffed at our collective stupidity and lined up for the jab. I must admit, the fifteen-minute wait before leaving the doctor’s rooms was rather disconcerting.

When neither Dee nor I died, we were very pleased.

We weren’t quite so pleased eight hours later when we both came down with searing migraines and nausea. At one stage, we would have been happy to expire, side by side in bed, hands clasped, together in agony.

Barely eight hours later, our symptoms were completely resolved.

We decided to shelve the “Bicentennial Man” departure for another time.

Yay, thanks, Robin Williams!

I feel it is important to mention here that exactly a week later, I tripped over a large lump of air and broke my arm. That bloody vaccine has a lot to answer for!

Old fart reality:

We are old, with previous concerns related to health issues. Frankly, the pandemic has been tough and scary — we feel vulnerable and wary of the future.

We thought we had things planned out, but now we’re not quite so certain our plans will be actualized. Interest rates are at an all-time low; economies are on the brink. Some of us are without family to fall back on.

The elderly population in Australia is very well treated, but for how long? Will our elimination fears be realised when we become expendable?

Right now, we have pandemics and very serious floods. Old people are dying in hospice care. Some have been trapped, dying in deluged homes. Russia is reinventing the Cold War — we have a much better understanding of what nuclear war means these days.

As a collective, us oldies are used to rolling up sleeves to receive a jab for whatever reason, and we take it in our stride when medicos ask us to walk down corridors with our bare arses hanging out of robes.

We feel no need to report that to our families, either.

Just don’t ask us to get under the kitchen table to avoid some new threat. We’ll never be able to get out again!



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Raine Lore

Raine Lore

Independent author on Amazon, reader, graphic artist and photographer. Dabbling in illustration and animation.