mardi, janvier 05, 2010

How I am not aging gracefully

For the past eight months or so, I've had problems with my back. About 20 years ago, I had surgery on a herniated disc, and while that gave me 20 really excellent years, it also, from what I've been told hastened deterioriation in that part of the back.

Having a few hours a day when my back hurts is a vivid symbol for the physical challenges that seem to go with getting older -- to all of us, eventually, but for some of us faster than others.

A I have written here before, I come from a family of scholars. I doubt that too many of them ran a lot, unless a bear was chasing them.

That being said, for a non athlete, I like being active -- and not being able to run and hike the way I am used to has been very trying -- inducing a sense of anxiety that perhaps I won't be able to again...ever.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm not part of the "epidemic" of psychosomatic disorders that Dr. Sarno wrote about in the 1990s. Have you ever wondered why we Americans have so much acid reflux? Why do we spend millions of lost hours on our backs (and no, not THOSE hours, those hours aren't lost)? What of fibromyalgia?

These appear to be the stress related problems of our age.

I give myself the Sarno lecture. Then I try to get on the used treadmill we got for a present each day -- just to see if I can get my feet off the ground. Actually, I've started jogging again.

My physical therapist is much less categorical -- part of the problem is in my mind, but some of it is in my back. He thinks I'll have good times and not so great ones. Lots of people have even worse backs, he says with typical Matt commonsense.

And, after an epidural injection, I am doing better than I was a month ago. When I want to see the doctor on Monday, he told me he also had a bad back. Asked what he does for it, he suggested I buy one of those huge inflatable balls to strengthen my core.

A little skeptical, I asked him: do you use yours? No, he said. But he feels I've got a good personality for someone with back problems in that I'm tenacious and don't feel self-pity.

Fury? Yes. Pity, no.

But he does take 800 milligrams of Motrin if he is going to do something challenging for his back.

Sounds like a plan.

So are there ways in which you aren't aging gracefully? Things you have lost that you would want to have back? What have you learned?

No fear, the next post will examine the benefits of age -- so you all better come up with a few!

3 commentaires:

BigLittleWolf a dit…

Many of the so-called psychosomatic disorders that were dismissed (by men, with women patients) in the 90s have now been shown to be very real, and related to other very real medical conditions. Fibro is just one of several.

The blind and dismissive prejudice towards these (typically female-exhibited) disorders caused many of us to go without treatment for years. And worse - made to feel as though we were a little "off."

Thankfully, since the 90s, additional awareness has lessened the stigma of some of these syndromes, while working to uncover causes, dependencies, and ways to treat symptoms.

Aging sucks. But what sucks worse is being dismissed by a profession that ought to know better. And increasingly, if slowly, does.

Don't buy in to the psycho-babble around psychosomatic.

Patty Mooney a dit…

Have you trid Yoga, stationary cycling, swimming or Callinetics? I have had problems with my knee for many years and finally had it replaced last year. I can walk around the block again now - yay! But I know there is always some alternative form of exercise for those of us who are challenged by physical infirmities. Gentle Yoga could be a good thing for your back.... Worth checking out!

Offcenter a dit…

Patty, that's a great notion. I have done yoga in the past, and I will return to it. I admire you for approaching these disabilities in such a positive way. I'm not giving up on the cardio activities, but making so adjustments and adding stretching, and probably yoga, to my routine. Classic baby boomer!