Living in Argentina: Bienvenido Cacho Milonguero

The Third Age: Discrimination

I remember when the phrase "3rd age" started popping up, I thought it was something more transcendental than "New Age", more  California cookie stuff.  It wasn't until I was almost there, that I understood, the 3rd Age meant people between 60-89.  I guess if you hit 90 you enter the Twilight Zone.

So here I am, in the so called 3rd Age.  I look nothing like the pictures of those kindly, gray haired, grandparent types.  I don't think I ever will.  It's not my style.  However, my age, is written in files that are accessed by the government, doctors, and of course Facebook.

I have never seen my age as a limitation to anything, except short skirts in the summer.  In the winter I can cover up those ugly knees with tights.  I put streaks of blue and purple in my platinum blond hair.  I wear skinny jeans. Probably most important is my active lifestyle.  Nothing slows me down.

This year, I started to notice age discrimination when I went to the doctor.  In Argentina you really don't have a regular doctor.  If you have something urgent you go to a guardia or urgent care center where they do not have your medical records.  In fact, your medical records are all over the place since you never have a regular doctor. 

Earlier this year (before Cacho the new pup) Maxi and Jerrybrown were having turf wars in my bed. This was going on as I slept, and I ended up with a shoulder I could barely move and in pain.  It didn't go away after a few days so I went to the "guardia" of my HMO/PPO.  

Before you see the doctor, they have your info on the screen.  When they called my name I walked into the room.  The doctor was about 35 and overweight.  He never bothered to look up at me from the computer.  All he knew was that I was a female, 66, and had a sore shoulder.

"Your problem," he says to me, again without looking at me, "is that you don't do any physical activity." Whaaaaaaaaat???  "Excuse me," I tell him, "but I do."  Still with his head stuck in the computer he responds "You need to do pilates or yoga AT YOUR AGE."

"Would you please look at me,"  I say to him.  "I am very active."  Dr. Chubbo looks up.  He is surprised.  I am not sure what he was expecting to find, but it wasn't me in my Old Navy summer gear.  "ReaLLY," he comments.  "What is it that you do?"

I tell him I go to the gym 3 times a week for 1.5 - 2.0 hours, I walk no less than 6 km a day, and I dance tango twice a week.  "Oh" he responds, "you don't do any stretching, this is fundamental for your AGE."  I am supposed to take advice from someone whose only exercise seems to be to lift a fork to his mouth?  I let him know that I stretch for 30 minutes at the end of my workout.

He's angry.  I can tell that.  He figured he could spew his canned rap about losing weight and doing yoga or pilates, and get rid of me fast. He gets up, comes around and yanks my arm, which of course kills me. "There," he says, "That's because you don't do yoga or pilates.  You need to do age appropriate exercise."  I want to slap his fat face, but I restrain myself..obviously.

This was not an isolated time.  It seems that every doctor I go to, has this rap.  I am sure they are disappointed they can't add the lose weight to their memorized speech.  Well one did, and I asked him if he knew what I weighed and how tall I was?  That was when he looked up, and realized that losing weight was sort of a stupid thing to talk about...with me.  Again, another overweight doctor.

The last doctor I went to was a woman, and a dermatologist.  This one was about 40 something and plump.  Her first words to me were "Do you do any physical activity?"  Before I could answer, she said "Of course not, not at your age."  "Doctor,"  I said to her, "look at me.  Do you think I would look like this without a good diet and exercise?"  I lifted my sweater to show her I have a flat belly, while she obviously does not. "Well it could be genetics." she answers.  "Not at this age."  I respond.

She asks me what kind of physical activity I do, and again, before I can answer she answers for me by saying "Yoga, right?"  "No,"  I tell her.  "I hate yoga, it's boring."  I then tell her everything I do, and she says "Why so much exercise?"  Is this an idiot or what?  I tell her, "Because I like exercise." and then looking at her I ask "What kind of exercise do you do?"  She is thrown by this.  "Yes, you."  I say to her looking at her stomach.

I am sure there was a time when younger people were more active than older people, but this no longer always the case.  I know plenty of people half my age or younger who never exercise, or do not exercise regularly, who eat fast food and drink too much.  All you have to do is take a look at the general population and you see too many overweight young people.  My gym in the afternoon is full of people in my age group, and none of them are doing pilates or yoga.  They are working out, and they are serious about it.

I find it very annoying to have overweight doctors assume because I am 66, I stay at home and eat queso crema on crackers while watching Cronica.  (Cronica is a cross between Fox News and the National Enquirer.)  Come on people, get with the program, you guys need an exercise program not only for your body, but for your heads as well.



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