The Myth of the Golden Years

No one is guaranteed golden years.

Throughout my pharmacy career, I have seen patients live vibrant lives past the century mark and still pick up their prescriptions as lucid as teenagers. I have also seen 70 year olds who look like someone picked them up, snapped them in half, and stitched them back together when no one was looking.

Then, there are the 85 year olds who smoke, drink, and eat bacon with every meal, but there are also those who die from cancer in their 30s or 40s. I even lost an infant patient for whom I compounded desperation medications. That one hurt a lot.

What I’m getting at is that no one is guaranteed golden years. Not everyone gets to play pinochle at the senior center until they hit 87, then nosedive for 2 weeks and die peacefully. Some absolutely wrestle with dying on a daily basis.

I’m doing everything in my power to age gracefully. When someone thinks that I’m 5 years younger than I actually am, I take it as a compliment.

I want to be like my maternal grandfather, whose old-age lifestyle and eventual demise I just described. I want to have my wits and reasonable physical faculties until my mid-late 80s, and then go out on top.

Who am I kidding? I want to live to be 104 and die of a gunshot wound from a jealous 40-year-old husband.

In order for that to happen, I need to be in peak physical condition until I can’t run anymore. At that point, you can give me a lethal fentanyl-midazolam bolus and send me on my way.

If I’m heavy going into my 50s and 60s, I’m just begging for trouble. I’m already watching the effects of obesity hinder my mom.

Seventy-three is far too young for her to be in the shape that she’s in, and you can’t help but know that it’s the excess weight that got her there. It’s definitely not a road I want to follow.

In addition, my dad died of a horrible neurological disease called multiple system atrophy, which was a systemic dismantling of his major organ systems over time to the point of incapacitation.

I also have a significant smoking history. I just hope I cleaned up before the damage was done, but I’ll have to wait and see.

Every weight that I lift, every lap that I run, and every extra morsel that I don’t eat will help me easily glide to 100. I want to be so old that I feel like God forgot about me.

Jay Sochoka, RPh, is adopting a use-it-or-lose-it mentality with his body.