Patch, Patch, Patch

20150528-flowers and barns 052

A few years ago, friend Barb said that old age is a process of “patch, patch, patch.” We weren’t that old when she said this but I laughed because I was old enough to begin feeling it. Now I really get it.

In my younger years I went to the doctor with the expectation that whatever was wrong would be fixed. I didn’t have any chronic conditions so with some pills, ointment or a scalpel my acting up body could be made good as new. In the past few years the goal of my medical treatment has shifted. First I am sent for an x-ray or some other more sinister test to make sure there isn’t something “serious” going on. Then the work begins. Patch, patch, patch.

They call it life-style changes – until there isn’t any style left to my life. Maybe I could keep a food diary to find out what is irritating my digestive system – although I already know what foods don’t agree with me. They are the foods I enjoy eating, that I eat when I am with friends or for date night. I’m flexible and can compromise by ordering something different – I suppose. But research says that, after good health, having a strong, caring social network is most import for graceful, happy aging. Sitting around a table, laughing with friends who love me, and sharing food that is good (but not good for me) is just what the researcher ordered. Trumps my doc, although I do a good job of eating healthy foods when I do the cooking.

Another life-style change I have been urged to make is exercising. Now this is even harder for me than changing my eating habits. It is a whole new concept; there is nothing to change because exercise was never a part of my life. I hated gym class. If I hadn’t loved math and English and government classes, I would have quit school because of gym class. Now I am working to embrace exercise as a life-style. I have my feet taped to decrease heal pain so I can walk. I go to a gym to keep my core and legs strong so I don’t fall. I climb stairs to… well, to keep my titanium knees working so I can climb stairs. I carry a step counter in my pocket to motivate me to take a few more every day to keep my bones from breaking. Patch, patch, patch.

I think I’ve accepted the fact that my body is wearing out, meaning that I will face deterioration for the rest of my life. Put like that, it hits hard. It is scary. But I have also felt something close to relief since I accepted this fact. I am no longer fighting a losing battle of trying to get back the body I had 20 years ago. It has helped me focus on what I can do to maintain as much functioning as I can while realizing that I can also relax with the flow of time. There is real joy in taking a guilt-free nap on those days when I need one.

I’ve never been happier. I think this a lot but hesitate to say it out loud. There is a part of me that says that can’t be. How can a person be happiest at 70 when her body is falling apart and death is right around the corner? Wasn’t I happier as a newly wed, as a young mother, when I went back to school, when I was having a successful career? I was very happy then, but this is where I am, and my life is the best I can make it for who I am, what I am, and where I am. I can’t be who I was, and don’t want to be. To add to the lyrics that inspired me in another decade, “I am woman. I am now.”

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20 Comments »

  1. I so identify with this post as I am coming up on “that age.” I’ve given up on having my twenty-something figure back. All I care about is being healthy so everything I do centers around that…. except when I don’t!!

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    • Your comment made me laugh. It does seem like staying healthy is a full time job – and I too don’t show up some days. πŸ˜€

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  2. Well said, Pat! Now I am quite a bit younger than you, but because of MS, a I feel a lot older than I am and patch, patch rather applies…I eat healthily, but exercise is a tad difficult when you fatigue easily…aargh…so I don’t do as much as I should. But, oddly, I am happy much of the time πŸ˜€

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    • That has been my experience with fibromyalgia. On my bad-body-days I feel 20 years older. If I don’t exercise I feel worse and if I exercise too much I feel worse. There is a narrow sweet window of exercise that keeps me pain free and fights the fatigue. But exercise always involves some pain. You are right, it is odd that I exercise to stay happy. And am usually successful.

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  3. Pat, your words strike home with me. Each year that passes, I know I’m not as strong. However, there is still so much I can still do. I have always loved exercise, and I keep myself going each day – even days I feel lazy. I think our bodies need to move. I like your positive attitude, and I also feel a similar happiness at where I am now at 71.

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  4. Yes, we can’t fool ourselves into believing that we’re as agile as we once were. The trick is to to do as much as we can to stop ourselves completely rusting up. Life and aging is all about change, and some of the changes, although I don’t welcome them, I’m learning to accept. πŸ™‚

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    • Yes, me too. And now that I am excused from the work world through retirement, I can embrace all that is good in life – even exercise. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the affirming comment, Sylvia.

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  5. Thank you for sharing this.
    I’m starting to feel the patch, patch, patch right about now.
    I guess it’s just something that happens as we get older.
    I’ll take it as I know many don’t live to see these things happening to them. Every time I see that I’m aging – I think about my brother who passed away almost 13 years ago. He was 25 – he died young – not a wrinkle – no greys – no aches – no pains. But – no time to enjoy life – being a dad & maybe some day – a g’dad…

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    • How painful that must be for you. I agree that there is so much joy in life that it is worth having to cope with an aging body. Thanks for reminding me of this is a most potent way.

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  6. Life is good! Not always fair, but good. And as individuals it is up to us to make it as good as we can. As Dale Carnegie put it, it is all about attitude. I have exercised just about all of my adult life.( now 71). People ask me if I expect to live longer because I do, but that is the wrong question. Exercise plays into the quality of my daily life and well being and helps sustain me when all else appears to fail. Patches be damned! I absolutely refuse to let my age deter me from living to my fullest. You go girl. P.S. love your pictures.

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    • I agree with you whole-heartedly. Everything I do is for the quality of life I have left – not for a longer life. Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Dan.

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