Today I am excited to share that I am about to post my new Blog, a sequel to the poems in Sandprints at Ebbtide, Sandprints is all about finding inspiration, faith and meaning in one of life’s difficult passageways: the aging process. My new Blog is a very personal exploration of the practical issues of aging and health challenges, and how I deal, or don’t deal, with my own struggles in my journey. I hope at least some of it speaks to you. I hope we can find our way together. I hope you will return often to find your own path in our mutual journey of self discovery.
One of my fantasies is that whenever my house is so dirty I can’t stand it, I simply move to another one – brand new, fresh start! It’s not that I hate cleaning. In fact, in days gone by I rather liked rolling up my sleeves, getting out the mop and bucket, and vacuuming every nook and cranny until everything gleamed. My current housecleaning phobia is not about choice but all about physical handicaps. I’ve had a bad back for years which torments me after bending over for a minute or two. My chassis is riddled with arthritis and when rain is forecast, I am frozen in place like Lot’s wife, unable to move without yelping, until I take a pain reliever and rest. A couple of years ago I suffered a debilitating fall that left me with an elbow implant, severe left arm nerve damage and a frozen shoulder. I have a lot of trouble post fall with showering, shampooing my hair, and getting dressed, among other things – seems like every day I discover another problem area that must be dealt with. I frequently drop things. I am challenged with meal preparation, doing dishes, reaching for food in the fridge or stuff in my cupboards or closets, and getting in and out of the car. Opening jars and things is almost impossible. Visitors always ask if I have anything that needs to be opened, to my endless gratitude. When I type, there are more typos than correct spellings going on – disastrous for a writer. Lately balance issues have set in and now I carry what I euphemistically call a walking stick, thinking that has less of a negative connotation than calling it what it is, a cane.
Not too long ago, I was in the library and a book titled “I’m Handicapped, Now What,” literally jumped off the shelf in front of me. It practically had my name on it, and you might think I immediately picked it up and charged to the desk to check it out. I am ashamed to say I did not. Walking out of the library, minus that self-help book, I recognized yet another disability, perhaps even more handicapping than all those above: Acute Denial Syndrome. Because if I refuse to call it what it is, I will never overcome the challenges that persist in limiting my life. I will continue to avoid potential medical care and medication remedies, practical solutions to my many problems, and yes, even self-help books. Hence this Blog. I am writing it, certainly, for anyone who might benefit from my sharing, but I am writing it for myself as well.
I hope we can find ways to deal with our frustrations and incapacities. I hope we can all learn together.
And yet another problem on my list …
I see my GP three to four times a year, for what is termed a wellness check, although the visit is not about wellness as much as all that may threaten it. I gingerly step into Dr. Q’s domain hoping to walk away thirty minutes or so later with a clear, positive diagnosis for whatever malady bothers me at the moment, along with a prescription or two. And that is usually what happens, case closed, and I live to see another day!
Now I would like to preface these remarks with one fundamental observation: I love my doctor. Just the sight of his welcoming smile never fails to affirm positive thinking and cancel out any anxiety I might be experiencing about the visit. To me, Dr. Q physically resembles statues I’ve seen of a beaming Buddha, and his aura is one of benevolence and peace. Further, we both ascribe to the following affirmations:
We are committed to an alliance of mutual support.
We are committed to transparency and total honesty.
The human body has many built in healing triggers and modern medicine supports and enables the healing process.
Today my grocery list of complaints focuses on a new problem, insomnia, hot on the heels and toes of restless legs. After on-line research with Professor Google, I have concluded that I probably need to increase physical activity and exercise, both currently curtailed by painful back issues. Also, I may decide to add a few more vitamins to my already impressive intake. After a thorough exam, Dr. Q concurs, and I jot down some ways to deal with my insomnia – go to bed at a consistent time each night, curtail working on my computer a few hours before bedtime, sleep in a darkened room, and ford off middle of the night hunger pangs with a healthy bedtime snack, preferably one including some protein.
Dr. Q pronounces my lab numbers all good, and my blood pressure at 110/78 great for a woman of advancing years (forgive me for preening a little at this news!) We shake hands, and he sends me on my way with his usual parting comment: I can’t find anything wrong that medical science can’t make better. See you in four months!
You have doubtless concluded that Dr. Q is a perfect match for my tendency to look for trouble where none is to be found. Armed with his encouragement, I go home resolved to increase my daily exercise and mobility, and prepare for a good night’s sleep ahead of time, e.g. do I really need to watch the 11 o’clock news with its all-too-graphic visuals of murder, mayhem and madness? If I can’t sleep, how about a little one-on-one chat with God? Instead of worrying about those I love, it makes more sense to ask God’s protection and blessings for them. Further, how about listening to some nice relaxing music? And I add some milk and graham crackers to stave off hunger at 3:00 a.m.
When I try all this, I am immediately able to doze off, and I awaken a few hours later with the happy realization that I was able to get to sleep without a torturous session of restless legs, no bucking and kicking discomfort.
I hope these thoughts help you explore what works for you in our mutual daily adventures in the art of self-care.
Jean Petersen, March 27, 2019