health

‘I just turned 55. Here are 3 ways my relationship with my health has changed.’

Bupa
Thanks to our brand partner, Bupa

I thought I had nailed this ageing caper. 

Even though I had just turned 55, I had already been through the worst of menopause almost a decade earlier. All I needed to do, albeit for some years, was a twice-yearly injection for some fragile bones. 

Sweet, I was sorted… or so I thought. 

My fifties were looking great, my kids were in their twenties, and my parents were healthy, now it was my time for more adventure and exercise. Little did I know that there were 3 specific ways my relationship with my health was about to change. 

Fortunately nothing tragic or terminal, but in ways that are collectively unavoidable for all of us.

Image: Supplied. 

1. There are ways in which we all age in the same way.

The first thing I noticed were the Things That Come With Universal Ageing. The inconvenient ailments that are going to happen to each of us should we be lucky enough to arrive unscathed for the second part of our life. 

Some bits get droopy, joints get creaky, and things get blurry. Moving that piece of paper in and out to focus just didn’t cut it anymore from my mid-forties. I needed glasses, it wasn’t a big deal, and in fact they made me look chic. Then suddenly in my fifties I needed a new script every year. 

Now, the ones I said I would NEVER have, the bifocals, have swiftly become not only the most practical solution, but have hopefully stopped me needing to look over the top of my reading glasses, like my nanna. My optometrist and I now like each other’s posts on Instagram.  

Along with many other women in their fifties, like clockwork every two years I visit the big pink mammogram bus that parks in my local community carpark. It is an important check up to get what remains of my breasts, which now seems to have merged with my stomach, squeezed by a piece of perspex whilst I pray the radiographer doesn’t get distracted. 

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Have I mentioned the discreet bowel screening package delivered to me by the postman as an early 50th birthday present, one which then continues to be gifted every two years? 

In our house, regular appointments for skin checks should never be missed when you are in your fifties, especially now that my husband has had a melanoma removed. 

All of this is universal stuff, but it had started to take up A LOT more time and often money.

2. Damn that DNA.

I hadn’t given too much thought until recently about genetic ageing. When you are younger, genes are all about who has mum’s slim frame or dad’s dainty feet (fortunately I got both). 

But suddenly in your fifties you realise you would have preferred to keep the inheritance limited to the china and a piece of jewellery. Mother Nature has other plans. 

As I press my hands hard on my yoga mat to perfect my downward dog, bulbous knuckle joints seem to have sprung up overnight.

Image: Supplied. 

My husband shakes his head and simply says, "You have your mother’s hands". This is a euphemism – if I follow in her footsteps, I won’t be able to open jars in another year or two. I am determined that there must be a solution and so I am off to the doctors to see what can be done. 

Lately I have also been floored by sinus migraines, much worse than anything I had in my younger years. Thanks again, Dad. 

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As my health becomes more than a hobby and I spend more and more time with specialists, I am keen to balance this with my other health appointments and regular massage. But there are also so many alternative therapies to explore, something our parents’ generation never did! 

3. The more active, potentially the more accidents.

Lastly I have discovered the most bittersweet ageing of them all, self-inflicted ageing. 

The cruellest form of ageing that preys on those with the most curiosity, the most energy and the most time. You see, what I have learned as I take my first career sabbatical in 35 years, is that this energy I had, and the desire to cram in as many adventures as possible, has only led to one thing – more mishaps. 

Keen to take my yoga practice to the next level, my extra enthusiastic leap into crow pose on my mat turned into a broken nose. This later caused a blocked tear duct in my left eye that became so enlarged and then infected that it sent me to the emergency department hooked up to an IV for five days. 

Surgery followed to divert the plumbing in my left eye into my nose. But now there are issues with my right eye. That specialist appointment is next month. Then, as I aimed to get super fit for hiking adventures in Tasmania and the Larapinta, I lifted weights that were perhaps a tad too heavy. A rotator cuff injury took me to physio and acupuncture. 

Later the injury turned into frozen shoulder – I have a cortisone injection next week. 

It's all happening here.

My diary is now full of appointments, just not the ones I had planned. 

My adventures bring eye rolls at the dinner table, not envy. But as I make peace with the fact that my relationship with my health must change, I have also become the poster girl for why you need that private health insurance as you grow older. 

Bupa health insurance is what supports me continuing the ageing process gracefully, in all its manifestations. I don’t want to have to wait to be covered for certain things because I have found I don’t always know what I am going to need! That is the adventure, and I plan to have many more. But with Bupa I have peace of mind.

Image: Supplied. 

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My health has taken priority and my relationship with it has had to become more intimate and attentive. 

But what I have come to realise is that ageing is a privilege and needs to be celebrated, not feared. This second half of my life is going to be a ride, and whilst I may never perfect the crow pose, I will have fun trying (well, mostly).

Image: Supplied. 

Whether you need the basics or more comprehensive cover, Bupa has a range of options to tailor the right health insurance package for you.

Join Bupa or get a quote here.

Terms and conditions apply.

Feature Image: Supplied/Mamamia.

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Bupa
Bupa offers cover for all stages of life. Almost 4 million Australians trust Bupa with their health insurance and you can too! Why wait to get covered? Join Bupa today. Because life happens. To find a cover right for you visit: www.bupa.com.au/health-insurance/join-bupa