I wrote my poem The Art of Conversation: Part 1 Discussing the Weather sometime ago now, and the comments got around to how people of a certain age like to discuss matters of health. Here is Part 2: Health Matters.

The Art of Conversation

Part 2: Health Matters

How’s your hernia?

I surmise a positive correlation
between age and percentage of conversation
dedicated to matters of health,

health matters
as you scale the rickety rungs of life.

Is your leg holding up these days?

Before we go on, these are matters of generality
so don’t go telling me
about your 15 year old neighbour
who is enamoured with anaemia.

Now, back to my hypothesis.

Can you imagine a gang of youth
deliberating on the benefits
of fish oils to arthritically
challenged joints?

They will be discussing
a different type of joint

It’s not that death and disease
don’t matter to the younger mob,

it just won’t happen to me.

Unwritten rule
for health conversations:
appear interested at all times,
especially with close relations.

Your time will come.

Second unwritten rule –
If someone asks you

How you feeling mate?

Don’t tell them about your verruca.

Getting there.

will do nicely as a response.

Is it health we are discussing?
Or are we developing a roadmap
for possible future destinations.

Do you think she had much pain near the end?

The young discuss their latest hot date
on facebook pages and twitter feeds.
The not so young update their status with

I’m off for my check-up – mustn’t be late!

eye check                                       check
skin check                                      check
heart check                                    check
cholesterol check                            check
prostate screen                             check
breast screen                                 check
colonoscopy                                  check
endoscopy                                    check
ultrasound                                    check
cat scan                                        check

death                                            checkmate.

let’s not talk about that!

25 thoughts on “The Art of Conversation: Part 2

  1. I don’t know what to say about this. One of my best girlfriends is 82 and stands on her head everyday. She is almost forty years older than I am and the only time I heard her complain was when she got the flu and couldn’t teach her yoga class. Personally Gabe, I’m just glad It all still works and my breast screening was good again. The rest is doable. 😉 Now, about that damp, it sure is makin’ my bursitis act up but I hear if you take cod liver oil pills it helps…

  2. Very observant for such a young person! Good advice too. XX
    PS. Correction re “health matters
    as you scale the rickety rungs of life”.
    Really it is a question. Is there a word for “scaling downwards”?

    1. Well there are a few words you could use but if I go down the ladder than I have to change the bit about the gammy leg 🙂 – any suggestions Stafford – I’ll keep thinking too (I know what you mean – well, I think I do). ‘Please explain’ said Pauline. ps. I’ll take the age compliment, even though it’s way off – haha

  3. funny, i originally read that as “rickety lungs of life.”

    oh, i relate all too well these days. although my better self strives to be more like valbrussell’s 82 yr old yoga teacher.

    (cruised in here from Bryan Borland’s blog)

  4. no, lets, lets talk about “it” geez i cant even say “it” but if we did talk about “it”, “it” might make a difference in how we live
    “death and dying” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, highly recommended, really good book
    i like the minimalist quality of your check listing, really great writing gabrielle!

  5. excellent! it’s interesting though, my sister (41) asks me ‘how’s your health?before she talks about anything else (and I’m in good health and as far as I know, so is she), my partner’s aunt (late 70s) rarely talks about her own or our health (though we do talk about the health of relations who are ill)

  6. I know a few people who do this. I enjoy joining in with anecdotes about my housemaid’s knee and uncontrollable flatulence. It’s fun.

    Seriously though, I do agree that health is easier to talk about than feelings. I know a lot of people in their mid 40s and older who are having trouble coming to terms with what the latter part of their life has brought. It’s not easy but I can’t help but feel that if we felt freer to talk about it, it would be better for all of us. Great poem!

    1. I got some sleep Benedicte (so am ok) and just woke up – the river peaked at 4am, slightly less than 1974 levels – we won’t here from our friends for sometime as they will be in evacuation centres and they won’t know the condition of their properties until the waters go down, which may take a couple of days.

  7. I love this – all oh so true. I have noticed as the years progress, we talk more & more in body parts. My father said to shoot him many years ago if he started doing the same after visiting an elderly relative. Now he is doing it, & our conversation long forgotten….& so the wheel turns..

    1. Thanks Jane – that is funny about your Dad. Yesterday I was at a coffee shop and 4 elderly ladies were having a catch up morning tea and not once did the conversation veer away from health updates – haha.

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