Sunday, August 21, 2016

This business of aging

I've been blessed with reasonably good health throughout my life.  Even now, the only prescription drug I take is a diuretic for high blood pressure.  The doctor wants me to take a statin, but so far I have remained adamant on that score.  Cliff has taken Lipitor for years with no side effects that I know of, but I'm stubborn (big surprise, right?).  I trust myself to know if and when the time comes that it's a serious enough issue to go on another drug.  Worst thing that happens is I have a heart attack or stroke, and hey, a person has to die from something, right?  I realize strokes and heart problems are nothing to make light of, and I know sometimes either can lead to something other (worse?) than death, but dark humor is how I deal with things.

Something I never even considered throughout my first sixty years of life is the fact that most senior citizens are suffering varying degrees of pain all of the time.  Sit in a parking lot at Walmart and watch older folks getting out of the car:  They gingerly straighten up as they step out, then limp halfway to the store entrance.  Even after they've gotten the worst kinks out, many of them, like me, walk funny as they go about their shopping.  

Who knew it could turn into an ordeal to sit on the toilet?  Now I know why there are handles to grab in the handicapped stall!  

I've learned that once you reach a certain age, you begin every day by assessing your pain, be it great or small.  Most of the arthritis pain I suffer comes from my knees.  Cliff, on the other hand, has had the kinds of jobs that really wore on his bones:  The butcher shop got his right shoulder, his back, and his thumbs.  His knees and hips bother him.  His back was so bad that, back around 1980, he was applying for a loading job at Yellow Freight and the doctor who gave him his physical said, "I wouldn't recommend you for any job that required you to lift over five pounds."

Cliff stayed on at the butcher shop lifting whole quarters of beef (back before cattle were as huge as they are now, but still...) and went on to work at concrete construction for many years, where he lifted huge amounts of weight constantly.  Sometimes doctors are pessimists.  However, he has always had what I refer to as a "glass back", where the least little thing could put him in pain for days or weeks.  

When you get older, the first thing you do on waking up is assess your pain.  It's always there, but mornings are the worst, it seems.  Arthritis is a strange thing in that the degree of pain varies from one day to the next for no apparent reason I can figure out.  I've never been able to see any connection to the weather, although some folks swear they can.  Sometimes the pain gets better after you've been up awhile and move around, other times not.

Cliff's back can almost totally handicap him for days or weeks, and he'll take a couple of Ibuprofen or Tylenol every morning.   Then the pain will fade and hardly bother him for weeks or months.  I only take something for pain once or twice a week, so I'm much better off than he is.  I used to keep a prescription pain pill on hands, but the doctor seemed to worry so much about prescribing it, I decided it wasn't worth the bother.  Ibuprofin seems to do just as well anyhow, without the side effects of oxycodone.

Meanwhile, I intend to do all I can in spite of the knees.  Cliff sometimes offers to drop me off at the entryway of a store so I won't have to walk from the far end of the parking lot.  I tell him, "No, I want to walk as long as I can, as much as I can.  I need to walk."

I'm still spending an hour a day on the stationary bike.  There will probably come a time I won't be able to do that, but I intend to keep going as long as I'm able.  So far the main thing I use my mobility scooter for is racing Cora in the Barbie Jeep we got her, but I've used it enough to know that if I'd let myself, I could sure get used to going everywhere on wheels.  

You know what amazes me?  How little you hear most people in my age group complaining!  If you're with a group of mostly older folks you see them laughing and joking, having a great time, when you know most of them have something, some body part, that hurts.  And the heart-breaking losses they've suffered!  They've lost children and/or spouses and gone through huge financial setbacks in their time, but they keep on smiling and trudging onward and enjoying life.

The people of my generation inspire me.  


Barbara said...

You inspire me

Jackie said...

Once again, the words you speak are something I've felt inside, but could never state as eloquently as you! You continue to inspire me with the written word and how well you can tell "our" story. I am only 63, but I related to everything you said. I have arthritis in my upper shoulders, upper back and hips, but I don't complain about it all the time. I just get up, take my Motrin and move along. I've found that my pain is worse now that I've retired. I guess I'm just not moving enough. I'm thinking of getting a stationary bike, because I really hate walking (I know, I'm weird) and there is no way I could and a bike that stays in one place where I can still move sounds awesome! Thank you again for such an uplifting blog entry, Donna! :)

Jean said...

I hope you can continue to keep going and stay in good health. I think that’s what it takes to keep us older folks up instead of down. I suffer from a bad back, but I want let it stop me. I can still do most anything that I did when I was much younger.


You nailed it. Folks of a certain age seldom complain, despite the pain. And all the tragedy in their lives. They just keep on going and going like the Energizer bunny.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I so agree, with that statement...we keep going. Truly we have little choice and I always prefer to smile...makes one feel better !

krueth said...

Yes, the longer you can keep moving the better off you will be. My grandma hurt so she quit moving and soon was a shrunken up, hunched over little woman who couldn't move without hurting terribly. My friend is a physical therapist and told me to buy a stationary bike but to peddle it backwards cause my knees are so bad they won't go around forward. I CAN peddle that darn thing backwards, go figure. I sure enjoy reading your blogs, please keep on. Wendy