Saturday, April 01, 2023


Eye Drops and Dental Floss


Many years ago, when I was a little girl in a big family, eye-drops and dental floss were not really invented yet. Oh, I would guess that they were invented, but not mass marketed.


They were not on television and in the newspapers, nor on the radio. No doubt the very rich and the very sick were using them, but we weren’t.


The wheel of fortune (not the game show) has turned on such things. Eye drops began to enter my consciousness with Visine, which would “get the red out.” And dental floss eventually would be spoofed on Saturday Night Live with Body Floss, and finally with Bum Floss or Butt Floss, depending on where in America you lived.


I have to add analgesic creams to the list, because now I am officially a senior. In fact, people with Multiple Sclerosis, on the average, die (or used to die) at 62. The good news: I have passed my expiration date, as have many others like me. The bad news: it takes a ton of grit and money and lots of advertising for Interferons.


We now, especially us women, live to ripe old ages. In fact, I am much more likely to die of some intestinal complications or heart disease, like my parents, both of whom made it past 80.


But back to the title: it is with amused regret that I notice my cabinets and drawers are full of eye drops, dental floss, and of course analgesic creams. The last are a legacy of my deceased husband, who is finally at rest from all the accumulated results of smoking, lack of aerobic exercise, and of course, premature old age. He sadly advanced his senescence considerably by sticking to old habits, stroking them lovingly and giving them free rein with all the money he had at his disposal after a long life in public service.


And the drops, floss and creams now are still close at hand for me. The result seems to be a longer life, certainly longer than my poor grandmothers, one of whom died in her 30s and the other at 68. I happen to be 68 right now, although that will change by the end of the month.


Is it good to live longer? Overall, I would say yes. My poor mémère never saw any of us grandkids and my grammy died before my little sister was born. Both left broken-hearted husbands and children, scarred for life. Even my own mom, motherless from a very young age, was crushed by the death of her mother-in-law. One grandfather drank himself to death and the other hung on a few more years to see his youngest grandchild.


Where does that leave me? Frankly, I don’t know.


I have all my teeth, now shored up with crowns and fillings. My eyes are not yet dimmed by the cataracts that threaten my sight, and I climb all the stairs in my home regularly. I even own an old-lady tricycle—actually a fancy little Mobi Triton for the summers and a recumbent exercycle in the basement for the winters.


Is it better to live longer? Will I watch as my body slowly gives out, like an old car, losing a fender or some chrome here and there? That thought is thanks to Joseph Campbell, a personal hero of mine. He died in his sleep at 83, mentally capable and intellectually busy to the end.


But the MS is taking its toll. I have to hire out most of the cleaning and upkeep of this old prairie style house. It is small with little rooms and even smaller closets and baths. Oops, no bath. Just a powder room on the first floor, and I’ve replaced the bathtub with a walk-in shower. The analgesic creams didn’t keep my knees and ankles from suffering arthritis.


I have all my grandchildren, as well as my two daughters nearby. I use a Medical Guardian whenever I am feeling unwell, or about to face the previously unknown dangers in the shower. There is delivery for anything I need and various ways to get out of the house, even when I am not up to driving.


So, I am fortunate, and I know it. Feeling good is not the top of my list of blessings, but I have learned to deal with it, both medically and mentally. I am thrilled to have survived long enough to enjoy Virtual Reality. I can see the world and experience things I would never have otherwise.


Is it all worth it? I would say yes! How long can I keep it up?


Damned if I know.

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