Monday, January 16, 2017

The Art of Aging--or Not

Larry has been having all kinds of issues this winter--back, neck, knees. Just one pain after another. The docs, of course, say arthritis. I think it's more than that; I think it's something to do with a disc in his lower back. So we are working through all the various tests and xrays the doctor orders and eventually they will find what we've been telling them from the start.

Meantime, life has been...interesting...around here. In September we both walked miles a day in England and Wales but today he can't do more than a block without enough pain to make him want to stop. He's using ointments, his walking stick, pain patches and this really cool lavender-scented wrap thingie that you heat in the microwave for a bit before placing on the place that hurts. It was a gift to me from a daughter-in-law years ago and it is one of the best things I know for easing muscle pain. Larry is also taking meds and they help some. But not enough.

The doctor recommended a board under the mattress, or sleeping on the floor. Larry decided to try the floor first. I put down a cot mattress and got him sheets and blankets and he crawled in. It was terrible. At least he got some sympathy and company from Daisy the dog, who laid beside him while he was down there, licking his hand. She felt sorry for him, I guess. Or maybe thought he was in trouble and couldn't sleep in the bed.

Next we tried the board under the mattress. Now to make this work right, it had to go under the whole mattress because we were using the wide table leaves and it took three of them. One wasn't wide enough and two meant I was half on, half off and that, my friends, just wasn't going to work! So we both slept, or tried to sleep, on a rock-hard mattress for about a week. Larry usually got up about 4am and went to sleep on a chair or the couch because he was so uncomfortable. I just tossed and turned and cussed.

All these attempts included middle-of-the-night shenanigans, and not the kind you're thinking. While on the floor, he needed to get up in the middle of the night because he was so uncomfortable and that meant he needed help, which meant I had to get up. The next night he was back in the bed, but hurting. So we got up and put the first table leaf under the mattress around 2:00 am. Much horsing about, which meant a long time dozing back off. The board was so narrow he was afraid he was going to fall off, so he was waking up often, which meant I would wake up too. Lights on, lights off, lights on, lights off.

Then the next attempt with two leaves under--Larry was sleeping when I came to bed. I got in, laid down for a split second, and was back up, yelling, "No way!" Half on/half off just didn't work at all. Lights on, and we found the other table leaves, lifted the mattress and got back in bed. Lights off. Back on to find the heating pad. Off again. Back on when he needed a pillow under his legs. Off. Back on to put ointment on his neck. Off. And then both of us restless all night because of the unfamiliar hard mattress. And he was up and out to sleep in a chair.

One night--or was it morning?--we were up and doing something with the boards, I think. The lights were on once again as we fussed around trying to get things right. I looked at Larry and said, "We're like a couple of old people, up in the middle of the night muddling around and grumbling!"

And it dawned on me: we are old people! I mean 65 is considered old, right? And yet, I don't really think of myself as OLD. I mean yeah, I'm getting Social Security and Medicare, at least until Congress messes it up. I have gray in my hair and some wrinkles. But most days I don't feel old, and I certainly don't think of myself that way, even if I am stiff and shuffling some mornings.

So when does a person finally recognize and admit that they're old? Or do they ever? Do we continue to see ourselves as capable and strong until we're so bad off that we can't function? I don't know. Meanwhile, the night-time rodeo is at a stalemate. His neck still hurts. His back and knees still hurt. I hurt in all the same places as before.

But I am still working hard every day, painting and lifting, cleaning and moving stuff, walking all over the place and busy, busy, busy. He groans around for a while in the mornings then can't help himself--he's back at it too. Right now he's collecting rocks so he can finish his stone wall that's been a three-year project. Later he'll be on the roof of the chicken house nailing down some loose tin.

Aging is physical for sure. Getting old, though, I think that's all in a person's mind. At least until they're really, really old. Whenever that is.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Mac n' Janet said...

I've often said that getting old is not for the weak, because if it's not one d*** thing it's another. Having had some lower back problems your husband has my sympathy. Hope things get better.

Beth Brown said...

Ugh - I hope that your husband soon finds relief! I agree with you that despite the grey hair, the wrinkles, and various aches and pains - I certainly feel as young as I have ever felt!

Rob Hunt said...

I have dealt with some back pain in recent months. I bought a Far Infrared heating pad which helped a lot. Check out Getting old isn't a lot of fun I don't really want to slow down there is so many things to do. Take care.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

You need to come back for some more English beer!

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