Ohhhh, My Aching (Blank)

I don't know who said it first, but when I was a kid I heard adults quote this line until I was heartily sick of it: "If I'd known I was going to get this old, I'd have taken better care of myself". Nurses Announcements Archive Article


Ohhhh, My Aching (Blank)

Psssssst......hey, you! Could you loan me some Advil till payday?

It never occurs to us when we're young that someday we'll be fifty years old, and that places on our bodies to which we have given little thought will begin to hurt. This is why we do stupid things, like jumping off roofs with an umbrella ("Look, you guys, I'm Mary Poppins!"). We shinny up, then proceed to fall out of, various types of trees (yep, I hit every branch on the way down). And when we're a little bit older, we are apt to experiment with substances that give us the idea that we're Superman, hence such behaviors as attempting to run through a wood fence (you should've SEEN the bruises after that incident) or doing cannonballs off the balcony of a second-floor apartment into the pool (no comment).

But that day comes, and then we have the nerve to act surprised. It starts out as a twinge here, a creak there, maybe a little hitch in one's getalong that becomes more pronounced when we are tired or have done the 'weekend warrior' gig a little too enthusiastically. But eventually, we reach a point where it seems we hurt in places that we didn't even know we had..........and in the case of nurses, many of whom are on their feet for eight, ten, or even 12 hours a day, being sore all the time is a pain in more ways than one!

As a nurse who got started relatively late in life (I graduated at age 38) and who has a habit of carrying her groceries on her hips, I'm no stranger to aches and pains. In fact, I take a certain pride in my ability to soldier on in spite of it all: My left knee, which has a way of collapsing under me at the most inopportune times, is about five years overdue for a replacement. My back hurts every day of my life thanks to injuries I sustained in my teens and 20s, and is getting worse every year. My fingers, wrists, elbows, hips, and ankles have ground glass in them. And as for my poor dogs, I continue to be amazed at what they do for me given the abuses I've heaped upon them: too many pounds, too many pairs of cheap shoes, too many long shifts on hard floors.

Yes, I feel every minute of my age and then some; yet in many ways, I'm better than ever and have much more to offer.......even if it does hurt.

I've noticed that sometimes when I massage my hot, calloused feet, I find myself thinking of patients whose backs I've rubbed, bringing them comfort and sleep in an atmosphere that was far from conducive to either, and I am glad that I've been given the ability to do so. My aching back reminds me that I'm blessed to still be able to move and go and do; many people who have suffered less severe injuries end up in wheelchairs, or worse. The arthritis that sometimes causes me to yelp when I bump an affected joint has, so far, spared me the indignity of needing someone to do such simple tasks for me as buttoning my blouse or zipping my jacket; I am grateful that I can not only do them for myself, but also for others who are farther down that road than I.

I've noticed that I tire more easily and need more time to recuperate from a bad shift than I did when I was 40. So what? No matter how hard a night I've had, I can still leave my patients in the hands of someone equally capable as I, go home, and sleep soundly so I can come back refreshed the next afternoon. Thank God I no longer feel the need to "have it all", for that means doing it all.......and after years of 24/7 responsibility, a career holds absolutely no appeal for me. I'm a much better nurse for having found contentment in a job that doesn't define me, especially not at the expense of family, church, and other interests.

I've also noticed that I can endure a great deal more physical discomfort than I once thought myself capable of handling. This has served me well, particularly during tough shifts when I literally cannot sit down for four to six hours at a time. It has also given me the courage to try to increase that endurance and push myself just a little harder each day. Who knows.......gritting it out and working through the pain today just might keep me out of a nursing home twenty years from now.

Now, in all honesty, this aging business isn't necessarily a lot of fun for someone who earns her daily bread by bending, stooping, walking, lifting, pushing, and pulling for thirty-two hours per week. There are times I dream of winning the lottery and spending the rest of my days pampering every aching muscle and tendon I own. But I made peace long ago with the fact that my life was never intended to be an easy one, and any concessions to my physical discomforts are limited to long soaks in the tub and the occasional 15-minute backrub from my husband. Oh, and aspirin..........the old-timers didn't call it the Wonder Drug for nothing!

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

I'm a Registered Nurse and writer who, in better times, has enjoyed a busy and varied career which includes stints as a Med/Surg floor nurse, a director of nursing, a nurse consultant, and an assistant administrator. And when I'm not working as a nurse, I'm writing about nursing right here at allnurses.com and putting together the chapters for a future book about---what else?---nursing.

22 Articles   9,986 Posts

Share this post

Tweety, BSN, RN

34,150 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

My back is fine, but the last year or so my feet have been giving me problems. Love being 50....NOT. LOL

jschut, BSN, RN

2,743 Posts

My feet AND legs have been giving me the dickens lately.....GEEZ!

UM Review RN, ASN, RN

1 Article; 5,163 Posts

Specializes in Utilization Management.

Hoo boy, I hear ya. I had to change areas, couldn't take the pain anymore. I still walk into my new job and sit down at my desk and have that "i-can't-believe-i'm-getting-paid-to-sit" feeling....


154 Posts

Specializes in Hospice, Palliative Care, OB/GYN, Peds,.

Boy, can I identify with this one. My worst problem is venous insuffiency from all of those years on my feet without support hose. They didn't even make pantyhose when I started. Remember those awful floors we had to walk up and down? I once fractured my leg but didn't realize it and kept working through the pain, had 2 kids to support and was recently divorced. Found out a year later after an x-ray that I had a healed fracture deformity in my right leg, which is also my worst leg now. Anyway am trying to work 2-3 more years so definitely wear support on my legs even in this hot weather. You are right about how we finally realize the important things as we grow older and take more me time and less work time. Kids are grown now but am helping support grands which is why I am not retired yet. Kudos to all of us mature nurses who paved the way for those that followed.:yeah:

husker_rn, RN

417 Posts

Specializes in med-surg 5 years geriatrics 12 years.

I didn't think I was getting old until I broke my tibia; now I have a limp { relearning to walk flexing ALL my leg muscles }. And the broken wrist that accompanied the tibia aches too. Never thought I would be the desk-job kinda gal.....now it begins to sound better and better. Where did you say the Advil is ?????

allnurses Guide

Spidey's mom, ADN, BSN, RN

11,304 Posts

Funny Marla - and so true.

My back is fine so far. My knees hurt a bit but I can still slowly jog or use the elliptical machine at the gym. I woke up this morning feeling like a bulldozer had run over my body and my mind was very fuzzy but two cups of strong coffee helps with that.

My oldest boys have shoulder and knee pain from football and they are in the 20's - but they loved every minute of it. I'm secretly hoping Danny doesn't want to play. . .. but he is signed up for flag football. :rolleyes:


llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

I'm 54 -- and I pretty much hurt all over. And I take lots of pills. I hate to think what they would cost if I didn't have health insurance with prescripton coverage!

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

22 Articles; 9,986 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

You guys are too funny!!

I used to poke fun at my parents and their friends when they'd c/o their aches and pains.........now my sister and I spend a good deal of time on our own "organ concerts". Well, you know what they say about karmic retribution!


Shrinky, I have venous insufficiency too---my legs look like a road map of California. Strange how mystified I used to be about it......I just thought it was weird that my legs were all rough-skinned and had these dark discolorations, and I got cellulitis twice in my right leg for no reason. Then last year, my PCP said the words 'venous stasis' and it was like DUH, what the heck did I think it was??!

Just because it was ME and not one of my patients......needless to say, there is a disconnect between what I know about medicine and applying that knowledge to myself. Some part of me still thinks I'm indestructible, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that I'm not. :imbar


5,758 Posts

There is all kinds of equipment out there that can minimize the damage. Unfortunately I have met very few management people who were willing to spend the money on the stuff. Sometimes I hear people talk about lifts and things and I feel very envious.

Roy Fokker, BSN, RN

1 Article; 2,011 Posts

Specializes in ER/Trauma.
Oh, and aspirin..........the old-timers didn't call it the Wonder Drug for nothing!
When I was in the Army, we used to call "Aspirin" by the acronym "APC" meaning "All Purpose Capsule". :D

Belly pain? Here's an APC

Head ache? Here's an APC

Tooth ache? Here's an APC

Back pain? Here's an APC

... you get the picture :rolleyes: :lol2:


48 Posts

Specializes in Just school!.

Any advice for us young pups just starting in nursing? :bowingpur

By using the site, you agree with our Policies. X