Notes on Decline

In her position as increasingly informed health professional, [regular readers will know that she returned to the maternal fold for a round of study for another degree], Offspring has mustered the kindness to advise me that I will know I have five years left before I shuffle off into the ether by the absence of my olfactory sense.
I have never been advantaged in my sense of smell. As a child I suffered with hay fever and spent weeks with a streaming nose and eyes during times of high pollen. An enhanced ability to smell can be both an advantage and a blight! I may be the last person in the hotel to smell the smoke but I am able to avoid nausea by being unaffected by the more unpleasant odours.
In the event that I might actually want to know when I am about to pop my clogs my sense of smell may not be a reliable indicator. Other factors, however may point in the general direction of snuffing it. To ascertain some of them it seems reasonable to look to your parents’ old age, the ailments they began to pick up, their lifestyles and their resistance.
In later life my father developed asthma-an unpleasant and often distressing condition-and also eczema. It is a mystery why all this descended upon him in his sixties, but it is now my legacy to have inherited the eczema, a complaint which is not in the least dangerous or threatening but which is, at times, torture.
At night, especially I began to wake to the sensation of thousands of small needles prickling my arms and back. I stayed awake-trying to defy the onslaught by employing ‘mind over matter’. I applied cold flannels, Calomine and ‘stop-the-itch’ cream. The hours passed in a turmoil of raking nails and tram-lined skin resulting only in an increase of the itch factor. I researched the internet. I sought help.
Initially I followed advice regarding liberal moisturising, eschewing soap and shower gel etc. The results were disappointing. I rushed out and purchased emollients of various types, slathering each in turn upon the offending areas of skin. For a few days sun block cream seemed like a miracle cure; then it didn’t.
At last I resorted to the GP, needing only a telephone consultation to be granted a prescription for steroid cream. I must admit I was disappointed, having considered I could beat the problem without recourse to professionals. But there is the inevitable and there is the view from the descent-the downhill slope; if only eczema were the sole ailment!
Not wishing for this blog to deteriorate into a hypochondriac rant I am reluctant to launch into all the other [granted-trivial] health disorders that have crept into my life in an insidious, sneaking invasion but there are times when an additional irritant, such as the arrival of the eczema serves as a reminder of the finite nature of lifespan and that, yes, it is all downhill from here!

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