Fast and Slow

I do realize there are many folks in this Story Telling group who are my senior and any whining I may engage in around this topic of “Fast and Slow” may appropriately be met with benign ennui at best or perhaps even derision. Nevertheless having been HIV positive for more than half of my nearly 70 years on earth I am left to ponder whether what was once fast is now slow and what was slow is now fast and whether or not this is primarily related to my age or my HIV infection. Most probably I assume a combination of both.

I have written recently about my at times very aggravating urinary bladder habits directly related to a very large prostate. I won’t inflict much more of that information on you but, oh, maybe just a bit more. Suffice it to say it is an area where what was once fast is now slow and what was once slow is now fast. The ability to sleep the night through without a trip or two or three to the toilet is only a distant memory and a fast and thorough emptying of my bladder is unheard of. One thing in this regard that has sped up is how often a major sense of urgency arises to get to the bathroom on my return home from a walk and seems prompted by putting my house key in the lock. What was a mild urge to pee for several blocks all the sudden becomes a wet pair of pants if I don’t move fast.

I must say though it seems that more things have slowed down for me than have sped up. The one exception being how fast time seems to go by. To hear young people today talk about the 1980’s or 1990’s as ancient history or even years before their birth is truly disconcerting to one who feels like that was just yesterday.

One of the concerning areas where I have slowed down is being able to find the right word at the right time. These words will almost always come to me eventually but often too late to make the pithy, or perhaps more accurately the bitchy, comment that I feel is appropriate or better yet deserved. Not being able to engage in snarky repartee as quickly as one once was able to is truly a loss for an old queen.

Another area of slowing down that has resulted in something quite fast happening on occasion seems to be my ability to fall down a lot. I seem to be able to hit the pavement at lightening and often embarrassing speed. A friend pointed out to me this week as we walked down to Racine’s for supper that I shuffle. After being appropriately indignant at his observation I had to admit that I probably do not lift my feet as high as I used to and any sidewalk imperfection has the potential to trip me up. I am adjusting to this by trying to be more mindful when I walk and I think this helps. Thich Nhat Hahn the great Buddhist teacher who is the master of mindful walking would certainly approve.

A year and half or so ago I was assigned a nursing case manager by Kaiser. Having been in nursing myself for well over 40 years and no less a nursing manager for more than half the time I was truly indignant and taken aback by this. I suspect it was a combination of my age, HIV, history of hypertension and new diabetes diagnosis that made me light up as a candidate for that protocol. She was very nice out of the box and though I still think I am not in need of her periodic check-ins I do go along. One of her questions on each of our telephone conversations is whether I have tripped or fallen lately. I most often have nothing to report in large part I suspect because I am not walking as fast and have slowed down while paying attention to my shuffle. And I have just lied about it once or twice.

Another area of my life where what was fast has now often become slow is sex. The days when an orgasm could actually be a hands free happening are definitely way in the rearview mirror. This is an area though where a slow savory approach to the experience is definitely preferable to the slam-bam thank you sir of days gone by. I think often of the old line from a song by the Pointer Sisters that goes: “I want a man with a slow hand”. So overall I think the aging trajectory is fast to slow most often with a few exceptions that can be quite nice in that regard.