Here’s how it happened: Probably the most common sight among seniors in a retirement home are back problems, meaning walking problems. The worst is the shuffle where one foot remains in contact with the floor while the body slides forward. Then there is the bent spine, the straight knee, the limp, the twitch, the foot drag and the foot drop. I belong to the ‘sideways bent’ class. All these ailments lead to one common symptom – the pain grimace. One soon learns who has what and which twitch is which.

 The other day I dropped into a couch with a huge sigh of relief at taking the weight off my feet – and thereby my back. Sitting on the couch is a lady who I know by her own particular pain brand – the walking butt clutch.

“Are you sore when you walk?” I ask the stupid question as an ice-breaker. It works.

“The pain is unbelievable,” she answers.

“And when you sit?” I say, continuing the questioning.

“Not too bad,” she says, “as long as I lean to the left and I don’t sink into the chair.”

“Hmm,” I say digesting this piece of information before I make my diagnosis.

“How about when you stand?”

“That’s the worst!” she exclaims, wincing at the very thought. “I cannot stand which means I am badly handicapped. No museums, no art galleries, no standing in lines at the bank or the bus stop and definitely no cooking!”

“Wow!” I offer in sympathy. “That’s pretty bad.”

“Any more questions?”

“What are you like in bed?”

There is a three second pause followed by a loud thwack which rattles my teeth.

“Well, it hasn’t spread to your arms,” I say, running for the door.