Take a look at yourself. Are you a very old baby or a baby-like old person? Uh oh. Your biological clock is moving backward. What would your body look like at different stages of life? How could it change the ways you interact with other people? And could you eventually shrink down until you disappeared?
Now, if you’ve seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, you watched Brad Pitt grow from an old man baby into a baby-like older man. But this condition is somewhat different in real life. Progeria, or Hutchinson-Gilford syndrome, is a rare genetic disorder that causes children to age fast after they turn two years old. Their physical growth slows dramatically.
They lose their hair, and many of them die around age 13. Even though it’s not really like the story, progeria is commonly called Benjamin Button disease. But in the spirit of keeping things light, let’s give you the Hollywood experience. But be warned. Your life wouldn’t be as glamorous. Your birth would be mostly unremarkable.
As your mom and dad get their first glimpse of their beautiful baby, they wouldn’t be concerned by your crinkled, old-looking face. Babies can look a bit funny, right? But from this point on, everything would change. You’d quickly grow from the size of a baby to the size of a small adult. This would be a shock for your parents.
From one day to the next, their baby turned into an older adult with dry skin, brittle bones and wispy gray hair. Like other babies, you’d have a vulnerable immune system, limited mental development and you’d cry a lot. But you’d be crying from the aches of arthritis. Your parents would have to be extra cautious when holding you to not break any of your fragile bones.
By your first birthday, you’d appear to be in your mid-70s. But you wouldn’t be telling stories to your grandkids. You’d barely know how to talk yet. The rest of your childhood would be anything but ordinary too. Cognitively, you’d be as young as your peers, but you’d look like a retiree. The pains of growing younger would continue into your teens.
While other kids your age are going through puberty, you’d experience a lot of the same feelings. But since you’d look about 60 years old, it could be tough to ask your crush out on a date. Even when you’re 18, dating would be weird. Dating people your age would spark a lot of conversations. But going out with middle-aged people who look your physical age would be hard too.
You wouldn’t have the sexual or life experiences that someone in their 50s might be looking for. And you would only be beginning your professional life, so you wouldn’t have much money to go out on fancy, grown-up dates. You’d also have nearly no work experience. But you’d look like you were nearing the end of your career. Potential employers wouldn’t understand why you seem so inexperienced and unqualified for jobs.
As you approach your 30s, you might feel more or less normal for the first time in your life. Sure, you’d look a lot older than most of your friends, but you could finally blend in at around age 37. The real challenge now would be facing reality again. If you have a romantic partner, you might feel you are on different journeys.
At 50, you’d have had a lot of life experience. But you’d look like a recent college graduate, so people wouldn’t be inclined to believe you. Job interviews would be strange again because employers might think you’re a little too confident for your age. You and your partner could have trouble going out together because others would see an age gap between you.
In private, your sex drives would likely be out of sync. You’d be in the physical prime of your life while your partner’s libido would start slowing down. Finally, you’d be entering old age. And your life would be weird again. You could be a grandparent, but you’d look the same age as your grandkids. That could be tricky to explain to them. And as you reach the end of your life, you’d need a lot of help.
You’d experience problems with your memory. And physically, you’d be losing your fine motor skills. Your children would probably need to feed you and carry you everywhere. But you’d be really cute. Your death would be truly bizarre. And while there are several ways you could go, maybe you’d continue growing younger and younger, shrinking cell by cell.
Eventually, you’d just be gone. Well, you had a unique life. You learned a lot about facing challenges since you were usually out of sync with everyone else your birth age. Maybe it would be better if you somehow stayed young forever.
- “Progeria – Symptoms And Causes”. 2022. mayoclinic.org.
- “Aging Is Reversible — at Least in Human Cells and Live Mice”. Karen Weintraub. 2016. scientificamerican.com.
- “Progeria: Symptoms, Tests, Treatment And Prevention”. 2022. my.clevelandclinic.org.
- “11 Elderly End-Of-Life Symptoms: Timeline And Providing Support”. Ann Pietrangelo. 2020. healthline.com.
- “What To Expect In Your 70s”. 2021. webmd.com.