Confronting the Big C

By Robyn Simpson



Cursing the start of my day is not an ideal wake up routine. I may be old fashioned, but I believe the ‘F word’ and the ‘C word’ are best left in the public bar at the local.


Today has started with a big ‘C’ for cramp. I manoeuvre myself into the remedial-home-massage position. Relief.


I am upright, out of bed and heading to the kitchen with a Note-To -Self: Increase the mega magnesium intake.


The cramp problem appears to be a winter ailment that usually subsides by the start of spring. Just in time for my working summer, and work I must! Until the age of 67 when I will be rewarded with an age pension.


I seem to obsess over local news stories regarding health services downsizing in smaller rural areas. I know I will survive without an obstetrician, but I sure hope there is a good orthopaedic surgeon prepared to, at least, offer a visiting service. Will they bulk bill?

There are so many things that disturb me about the next nine years. My mother passed away at 67 from Breast Cancer. No mammograms back then. My father also passed away at 67 from Bowel Cancer. No Bowel Scan Kits back then.


Am I expected to keep working till I drop? Include me in the list of the 1 in 3 marriages that ended in divorce. So, I massage my own cramps and pay my own bills.

Another ‘C’ word has now popped into my mind: CENSUS. Tuesday 10th August 2021. That ABS data collection that occurs every five years. What will my Baby-Boomer-Girl-Power-Puberty-Blues comrades need to comfortably survive our twilight years? How will our responses shape a sustainable and happy future?


Continued employment is essential, as well as the training required to keep up to date. In my case, a level of physical fitness is also necessary. I am happy to be the aging lifeguard, but I cannot become the incompetent one. Whilst it may not be Bondi Rescue, I can't just ease off on the physical exercise. I have learnt to change the way I do my job over the years. What I don’t need is the ongoing snide remarks (often from men) that I should retire.


Sure! I would gladly move over and give your child a job... If I could.


So, I grind away up and down that pool, eliminate any unhealthy food from my diet, minimise alcohol and caffeine intake all in an attempt, to keep on keeping on.


I am satisfied that I am doing all I can, but I am not Superwoman. I am going to get some age-related niggles.


I seem to obsess over local news stories regarding health services downsizing in smaller rural areas. I know I will survive without an obstetrician, but I sure hope there is a good orthopaedic surgeon prepared to, at least, offer a visiting service. Will they bulk bill?


From experience, I know that anything life threatening will mean a trip to Sydney or Melbourne. Hopefully schemes like IPTAAS (Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme) will survive budget cuts.


On the plus side, I embrace my laugh lines. They are part of the great Aussie outdoor lifestyle. I am sure even Elle McPherson has laugh lines by now. My mother's mantra still rings true: Learn how to smile. It will be your most attractive feature”. That is all good if I can keep paying for regular dental treatment to flash those pearly whites. I was horrified to hear a story from a friend who couldn’t afford dental treatment but was deleted from the Public Dental Waiting List. Sadly, she doesn't smile much these days.


Since I am still far from retirement, I wonder what useful training I can undertake that might set me up for continued employment? Online learning has allowed for many more study opportunities however, I would prefer to go and sit in a classroom. This is assuming that I will still be driving and have my own vehicle.


There is so much for me to be thankful for though. Having a comfortable roof over my head is not something I take for granted. I like having my own space. This may not be possible in a private rental market. To experience housing insecurity would no doubt manifest into an array of social and mental health problems for me.


Oh, and should I make it way past 67 I could become a candidate for aged care accommodation. I hope it is a good place where I can play my music up loud. Will the staff be adequately trained to cope with my dementia? Will I be able to find somewhere local and comfortable?


I think I have analysed enough for one day.


Bring on Summer I say. I better shout myself a new red, Bay Watch swimming costume. I would never let a wedgie hold me back when I know how to fix a cramp.


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