When was the first time you had an experience and walked away thinking, oh my goodness, I am so old? After years of making comments about “young people today,” I think I just crossed the chasm between young woman and mature lady.
For the last several years, my immune system has been going haywire. I’m continually working to calm down the immunological response and recalibrate my autonomic nervous system. While I’ve made progress with the removal of environmental toxins and supplementation with essential nutrients, my immune system still randomly attacks healthy cells. The most recent manifestation has been genital psoriasis. Fun.
Last month, I mentioned the rash to my dermatologist during my annual melanoma screening. He prescribed a mild topical steroid and the issue resolved. Great.
So, I go in for my follow up appointment and the medical assistant, a young man, walks me down the hallway to the exam room. The early-twenty-something cheerfully confirmed my name and date of birth, and then looked at my chart. He looked back at me with wide eyes, then back at the chart, and then back at me again. He paused, opened his mouth, pursed his lips, and then spoke.
“How is the rash on your… leg?”
I nearly burst out laughing. My first instinct was to respond, “Oh, honey!” and offer the kid a hug, while reassuring him it’s okay to read the chart. But, I didn’t, of course. He must have been shy, modest, or embarrassed to utter the body parts he was hoping he wouldn’t encounter working in a skin doctor’s office. Maybe he was new to the job.
The whole encounter made me feel old, like really old. But, why?
When I was his age, I was extremely naive and equally uncertain is those uncomfortable situations. I think part of the feeling was a maternal empathy. I know what it’s like to address difficult topics, especially with older or more senior individuals. I can just imagine his little brain rushing to figure out, “Is she going to be offended if I say vulva or genitals? What do I do?! They didn’t prepare me for this in school!”
There was also recognition of how far I’ve come. In 2015, an infection threw my body into permanent chaos, so I went from seeing a doctor every five years to nearly every month. I’ve been there, done that. Bodily anything is no longer a big deal. I’ve got all sorts of imperfections and I don’t care who sees them.
However, I suppose the biggest factor is that I had this brief encounter with a young working adult whom I perceived to be a naive child. This kid must have been at least twenty. He was by no means a child. Yet, at nearly fifteen years his senior, it was so blatantly clear how young and inexperienced he is at the intricacies of life. He’s still figuring things out. Realizing that, feeling old isn’t so bad. I now find it rather amusing, to be honest. We learn, we grow, we experience life, and gain wisdom along the way. And we laugh. The rash on my… leg? Yeah, it’s just fine, kid!