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Home » Opinion | I Share a Birthday With President Biden. Ask Me About Our Age.

Opinion | I Share a Birthday With President Biden. Ask Me About Our Age.

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President Biden and I have something in common: We were born on Nov. 20, 1942 — he in Scranton, Pa., I in Providence, R.I.

He and I once even joked about it, long before anyone could suggest we were too old for our jobs. He was vice president of the United States. I was a journalist.

Mr. Biden is having a very hard time right now, and I get it. That awkward, stiff walk of his? The White House physician says it’s the result of “wear and tear” on his spine. Tell me about it. I’ve had to get shots into my spine to alleviate excruciating pain caused by a collapsed vertebra.

The president and I share other health issues common for folks our age. We each have atrial fibrillation, an occasionally irregular heartbeat that can lead to a stroke. We take Eliquis for it. (Thank goodness for Medicare for me, the White House Physician’s office for him. It’s an expensive drug.) We also suffer from sleep apnea, which can make you wake up over and over, snorting and choking, leaving you tired and unable to focus during the day. We’re both being treated with continuous positive airway pressure that involves wearing a maskattached to a machine by the bed that pumps air into you all night. My wife laughingly calls me Mr. Hose Head.

There’s more, but you get the point: Aging isn’t fun. We do what we can. Mr. Biden works out five days a week. I work with a trainer twice a week and walk at least 10,000 steps a day. None of our physical problems would be disqualifying, perhaps, even for the most demanding job there is. Yeah, that gait might be embarrassing for the leader of the free world, but it’s not disqualifying. But there’s another aspect to getting old that few of us like to admit. It’s the mental decline that goes with the physical.

For nearly half a century I was a journalist, reporting and editing the news. Put me at a keyboard and the prose flowed. Now there are good days and bad — days when I know the word I’m searching for but just can’t bring it up from the La Brea Tar Pit of memory. Sometimes, if I sit for a few minutes, it will pop out. Other times I have to resort to tricks — googling what I think might be synonyms or, when that doesn’t work, reconstructing the whole sentence to circumvent the missing piece. When reading a news story I’ll often find myself asking “Who?” when someone’s last name appears on second reference. Worse are those days when I read an entire page of a book and realize I haven’t absorbed a bit of it.

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