How are you? Sorry, time’s up!

A group of friends walking together

How many of you have certain rules to be observed among your friends? No, I don’t mean rules about lending money to friends or making sure you don’t have an affair with a mate’s partner, though that can be important. I mean rules about ailments and illnesses. You know, the constant moans and groans that seem to accompany the ageing body.

My friendship group has decided that 10 minutes is now allocated to a range of complaints. No more airtime to the misery. We are tired of boring ourselves and each other with these self-focused moans, hence the time limit. And the uttered cry, ”I’m sick of myself!”

Cold weather arthritis? Fingers and toes aching? Yep. Knees giving you hell as you try to bend down and then get up again? Yep. Hips that ache in the night and the big all-time great dominating ailment – backache? Yep.

We also have a range of major complaints among the group and we are heading towards the bionic time of our lives. Implanted teeth are becoming commonplace as our poor canines wear down or we fall flat on the pavement and knock the front ones out. This process seems relatively painless though the wallet suffers enormously. Knee replacements are high on the list, with my born-again friends waxing lyrical about their dish of a surgeon who performed the deed and boasting about how well they now move, pain free. Me, I cringe at the thought of surgery, but clearly am not in enough pain to want to face the knife.

Too gruesome

Next comes hip replacements with the merits of various methods pored over and elaborated on. Go in through the front, less muscle damage, claim the evangelical converts! Too gruesome for me and I mentally check out, contemplating the merits of dark versus milk chocolate or notice the cobwebs that I have failed to eliminate on the underside of a side table. Poor housekeeping seems more thrilling than lusting after an orthopaedic surgeon, no matter how good looking he is.

How in the hell did we get to this point? Once upon a time when we all got together, we talked about our weekend exploits – parties, films, people we’d met. People we had shagged or wanted to. We had fun (well, some of us) and even nappy talk now seems preferable to this downhill decline in physicality. And, of course, when we were young, we took our health for granted, never really understanding when old people talked about how important it was.

Now we watch where we step and make sure that we have some form of identification on us in case we have a fall, the dread of the frail.

However, said with a deep sigh and an acknowledgement of gratitude, we are fortunate to not only be alive but to have access to world-class healthcare. So, I will keep paying my private health cover, listen attentively to my friends’ woes and breathe a sigh of relief that like the plucky and invincible knight in Monty Python’s The Black Knight, so far I have escaped life with “just a flesh wound” and the chance to live another day.

What ‘rule’ do you have among friends? Is there a limit on talk of your health problems? Share your rules in the comments section below.

Also read: What humans can do to other humans

Written by Dianne Motton

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