Adjusting To What’s Next

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The Thinker, Auguste Rodin

Bill is 78 and I’m 75 year old. We both have arthritis and these days we talk about aging a lot. As many of you know Bill has already had one knee replaced along with a shoulder. The other “good” knee is now giving him trouble. It isn’t bone on bone yet and he’s taking his time using a brace and gently working on it until he feels he wants to have it replaced. He’s also been having a bit of trouble with memory loss. We haven’t yet heard of brain replacements, and even if that were possible, how do you download 78 years of memories into an artificial brain and still be human?

Although joint replacements never work like the real deal, artificial knees help make those suffering from pain continue to move about comfortably. Our Orthopedist says that those who tell us that we’ll be as good as new after a replacement are full of you know what. And when it does happen it’s extremely rare, especially if you’re of a certain age. But we go for being comfortable and spending our senior years continuing to go on adventures. Bill’s recent week on board a ship with 700 joyful Irish musicians was a wonderfully fun time him and he got around happily using a cane or a wheel chair when he had to.

I myself have just been diagnosed with bone on bone arthritis in my right knee. Although I move around most days comfortably there are days when it’s too painful, especially during this stormy winter when I can predict a tempest coming well before it arrives. I, too, will be trying a brace for a while, and use a heating pad or ice to lessen the pain. Our good doctor does not want to jump in with his knives. He’s conservative and doesn’t like to be overly invasive. So we’ll spend a while seeing how it goes before we enter an OR.

The other complaint you often hear at our house is how long it can take to get things done. We’re moving much more slowly than we used to and completing tasks that used to take an hour can now take up to one or two hours more, depending on how complicated it is.

I’ve just discovered how addicted I have become to schedules and time. It seems to be how the world operates these days. Everyone is in a rush to get somewhere. We wait in line overnight just before a new electronic device comes on the market so that we can be one of the first to own it. And big box stores open their doors on Thanksgiving day giving all the “must haves” a chance to get whatever it is they want before the store runs out. They forget that spending time doing something relaxing with their kids and other family members is essential while the world spews more and more stress our way.

I may not know what to do about my knee right now, but I do know what to do about this newly discovered schedule addiction of mine. Firstly, I quit wearing a watch a few weeks ago. Silly me used to check it constantly to see if I had plenty of time.  Secondly, I’ve discovered that by taking more time to do things, I notice all of things I used to miss when I was in such a hurry. What I sometimes considered distractions, like watching the birds at the feeder or a flower slowly opening its petals in the garden, help me to be at peace with myself and the world around me.

Aging may be something that many people don’t look forward to, but I’m discovering that it is delightful to allow myself to go with a much more slow and gentle flow than the tornadic activity that too often accompanied my younger days.  It’s all about adjusting to what’s next!

Comments

  1. I am right with you, Joan, especially when it comes to slowing down. I stopped wearing a watch almost a year ago, something I never thought I could or would do, and I really haven’t missed it. I have a pretty good inherent sense of time, but mostly there just aren’t that many timetables I need to keep.

    One of the upsides about aging is that we do have time to stop and smell the roses!

    • Joan Rough says:

      Yes, Becca, there are many upsides of aging. I love being able to do what I want when I want to. Those timetables are for the young, not me!!

  2. I love this, Joan. Yes, there are challenges we face as we age but one of the great gifts is that of being unbusy. It’s a lesson I need to learn again and again.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Thanks, Linda. Being “unbusy” is a new experience when you’ve been rushing around tending to the world. It’s time to quit that and tend to ourselves!!

  3. Joan — I love that you intentionally extracted yourself from “tornadic activity,” and are allowing yourself to go with a much more slow and gentle flow.

  4. Joan, I can relate to everything you’ve said and love how you have reframed aging in a positive light. We may be slowing down but we’re still kicking

    • Joan Rough says:

      You betcha we’re still kicking! I love this time of quiet reflection and being able to understand more about myself and being human.

  5. Hi..it’s nice to meet you…and yes we have some of the same kind of conversations at our house. What I love about being older is the flexibility in doing things when I want to…I love your attitude…

    • Joan Rough says:

      Hi, right back to you, Nanci, and also welcome to my blog. Flexibility is sooooo important. I just wish my body had a better sense of that. But I’m working on it!

  6. I wear a watch because it’s jewelry, with sentimental value. But I can’t read the dial without a lot of squinting and wrist-flexing. Thanks for this candid post.

  7. Joan Rough says:

    You are so welcome, Lynne. Aging is not for the faint of heart or lazy people. It is sometimes hard work to stay engaged and making each day a special occasion.

  8. Ah aging. The topic does seem to be the new common denominator. I wonder why. 😉

    I’m sorry to hear of the memory loss. Woodys about to go for his second memory test— ten years ago we had a baseline taken. We wives know our husbands pretty well, don’t we. We KNOW when something’s off. We must continue to talk.

    And sorry too to hear of your knee. I think I’d be of a different mindset if it were me. My eye doctor tells me I’m a candidate for cataract surgery, “just not yet.” I find I’m eager to get it over with.

    My best to Bill.

    • Janet, thanks for your kind words, and to hear that Woody is going through the same thing. Bill was diagnosed with “Mild Cognitive Impairment,” after his second memory test. It’s a catch-all phrase that doesn’t tell me much except that it could just go away, stay about the same, or worse end up as Alzheimers. During the move it was difficult because the change in environment really confused him. But I’m happy to say he is back to where he was before the move.

      As for my knee it’s good one day and painful the next but I’m giving it some time as I do some egoscue to correct some twists in my body. So far it’s helping. At any rate, I’m fine and happy to be in our new place which is a much easier place for us to be and working on making each and every day, the very best that it can be!

  9. Barb Germershausen says:

    Well said, Joan. I’m watching a good number of my students face similar issues to yours. I hope you can get some relief with the knee.

    Cheers to you for taking off your watch! I stopped wearing a watch several decades ago & I don’t miss it one bit! Of course I have the time on my phone, but that’s kept inside my purse, and I’m not tempted to constantly check it. I catch quite a few students checking their watch in yoga class & I just want to gently remove it from their wrist for the remainder of class and whisper in their ear: “You’re in YOGA CLASS! You don’t need to know what time it is! LET IT GO!”

    Namaste

    • Thanks Barb, for your great words and encouragement. It all makes life interesting and if you’re a fighter like you are, we get through it. I’ve learned much from you and your own struggles and am grateful that you are in my life and one of the people in “the village,” that keeps me going!

  10. Pain is a challenge for those who carry it with them from day to day. I practice Dr. Estes’ advice regarding physical discomfort to the best of my ability: If you’ve done everything you can to take care of the matter, then it’s interesting if true, but so what.” I took that to mean that when we dwell on it and talk about it all of the time we give too much attention to it which actually makes matters worse, for ourselves and those who have to listen to us complain. A truth worth reaching for. My hubby and I try to remind each other of this when we notice one or the other is in complaining mode. The slowing down thing has been much on my mind of late. I don’t like not getting things done and yet I’m slowly 🙂 getting used to the slower pace and accepting it. Like you suggested it allows us to take in each moment a little more. As for time and watches – I have no affinity for either. I’m terrible at keeping track of time and only schedule appointments when I know I will have plenty of free flowing time around them. Enjoyed your reflection on the vagaries of the aging process. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  11. Oh yes, Dorothy, complaining about pain or anything for that matter only makes things much worse. And reminding yourself is very important, lest you bring the world down upon you! Bill is pretty good about that. It’s watching him hobble around that at times can be heartbreaking, but it’s life after all and making each day as positive and wonderful as it can be is important.

    None of us are alone with the aging process and frankly there is so much about it I really love. I’ll be doing some writing about that in the future.

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