It’s no secret that it’s basically impossible to be fully prepared for adulthood. We’re fumbling through it like our parents did and their parents before them. Sure, we knew that we would have to “be financially independent” and “clean up after ourselves…”
But I was really unprepared for what growing up would do to…my body.
Seriously, since college, my body has undergone a full night-and-day shift as to what it can and cannot tolerate. While I’ve never been a big drinker and can’t really speak to the changes in how I can drink and how different hangovers are, I’ve had to deal with plenty of other changes that I was really unprepared for and, frankly, am completely enraged about.
First (and probably most importantly), no one told me that I wouldn’t be able to handle sugar anymore. I used to be a sugar champ. I could eat any sugary food that I wanted and be fine. There were several nights over the summer that I would have chocolate custard for dinner. Ah, the beauty of youth.
I’ve had so many friends ask me throughout my life how I could eat so much sugar and not get sick. I wore it as a badge of honor. I was the Sugar Queen and I could behead gummy bears and chocolate animal crackers alike.
Now, if I have just one too many cookies or too many bites of a cake that is a bit too rich, I feel sick! And not just sick-for-a-moment-but-it’ll-pass sick. More like sick-for-the-rest-of-the-day-can-you-please-pass-the-antacids sick.
And that’s not the only thing that will make me nauseous for days. My acid reflux has become part of my daily life. I can’t have coffee without food in my stomach. I can’t wait too long in between meals. I can’t fall asleep too quickly after eating something. Acid reflux has begun to rule how I make my daily food decisions. And sure, it means that I eat better or eat enough food or whatever, but still!
(TRIGGER WARNING: Eating Disorder)
Back when I was in high school and only eating like 300 calories a day and exercising for 5 hours a day, I would drop weight and build muscle almost instantly. Now, I feel like I’m going to die after missing one meal. Then, I get on the scale and I’ve gained weight. THAT IS NOT HOW THIS IS SUPPOSED TO WORK, BODY.
(I would like to note here that I do not condone starving yourself, and recommend that if you or anyone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, you should seek help. At the end of the day, I’m happy that I’m not losing weight starving myself anymore, because I really don’t need that lesson reinforced!)
Motion sickness also stays with me for days on end. When I used to get motion sickness on car rides, I would just have some bread or soda and feel fine an hour later. Now, it takes at least a full night’s sleep until I feel better.
I attended an aerial yoga class last week, and basically became nauseous as soon as I laid down in the ribbon. Apparently, being horizontally suspended from the ceiling is no good for me. I struggled with motion sickness for at least 24 hours after that. Because apparently resilience is for the young.
The stomach issues are bad enough, but aging has also affected my sleep. I have become very susceptible to forming sleep patterns. Let’s say that normally I sleep fine-ish from 10pm to 6am. Well, if two nights in a row I’m awake from 2am to 4am because I don’t feel well (usually because of the aforementioned acid reflux), my brain is just like “Oh well, I guess this is what we do now!” and wake me up at 2 am every morning for the rest of the week.
And no matter what, it feels impossible to get back to a normal sleep schedule. Earlier this month, daylight savings time started and I was basically a zombie for an entire week. My old body can’t even handle a one-hour time change without shutting down.
Then forget waking up in the morning! I’ve always considered myself a “morning person” because I basically turn into a pumpkin by 10:30 every night and it doesn’t take me too long to wake up in the morning. Not anymore! Nowadays, it takes me forever to wake up. No matter what time I get up or how long I’ve slept, it takes me hours to feel awake and be able to think clearly. I’m neither a “morning person” nor a “night person.” This is what we call a lose-lose situation.
Now, when it comes to defining when I’m most awake by “morning person” or “night person,” I’ve realized that I’m basically a “whatever time I’m actually trying to fall asleep person,” because that’s truly the only time during the day that I feel awake.
Back in the days of my youth, I would think nothing of buying concert tickets for a 9pm show or tickets for a 6am flight. Now when I go to book anything for late-night or early-morning, I really think about whether or not it’s worth losing sleep to go to. Because no matter how much fun it is or how many memories I’ll make, sometimes losing sleep is Just. Not. Worth. It.
Finally, allergies. Why am I suddenly allergic to everything?! I’ve taken to keeping Benadryl on me at all times because breaking out in hives is my body’s new favorite activity. It feels like I’m finding new things that I’m allergic to every month.
And not only am I acquiring new allergies, but my old allergies are getting worse. While I left the world of acute allergy attacks behind when I was younger, my seasonal allergies have now advanced from just an itchy nose and eyes to itchy skin. Just when I thought seasonal allergies were the one thing that I could depend on to remain the same, suddenly I’m going outside and itching my scalp like I have lice. Smelling spring in the air used to mean that summer vacation was on its way, but now it just makes me want to duck for cover inside where there’s air conditioning and nothing is itchy.
The moral of this story here is: getting old sucks. The bodily betrayal is real. Soon, I’m going to start complaining about my knee when it rains and eating dinner at 4pm. Is anyone else reminiscing about the days when we didn’t have to think about things like heartburn and tax season? How have you been affected by the aging human body™?