Sunday, July 17, 2011

Aging Gracefully

The effects of the wear and tear of life are becoming more noticable in my now aging body. These are changes I never thought would actually happen. It seems like one thing after another is falling short of my expectations about feeling forever young
The first thing that went "wrong" in my body happened slowly over a few years in the 1960's I developed warts all over my fingers and toes. For a young girl this was devastingly embarrassing. Finally, when I was 15 my grandfather took me to a homeopathic specialist, who thankfully got rid of the embarrassing growths. Throughout my childhood I also had a dibilitating disease called Raynauds. It attacks the  blood vessels and constricts the blood flow to the extremities when your body goes below a certain temperature. It is quite painful. The earliest age I remember this is 12 and finally after years of suffering through winters or even walking into an air conditioned room, my husband and I took a trip to an Aryavedic Hospital in India when I was 51. There they cured me of that disease. Totally. The doctor told me then that my arthritic hands were probably worse, due to the Raynauds affecting them for so long. My form of arthritis, wear and tear osteo arthritis is something I have come to accept.  Oh well...aging it happens to us all right?

When I was 16 I tore a ligament in my knee and had an operation to fix it. After months of physical therapy my knee was "good as new". I was allowed to run again and it wasn't long before I took up my love of jogging again. The doctor said, "it might bother you when you get older" but I didn't understand the impact of those words. I am older now and when it rains, which it often does in the Rainy Season of Costa Rica, my knee aches and keeps me awake. Hence I am sitting here at my computer at 1am instead of sleeping. this is what "bother me later in life" is like! 
I get tendonitis in my right elbow and wrist from all outside physical work I do around our property. This year I went back to the knee doctor for the first time in 41 yrs. Same doctor! only for my tendonitis now. He came into the office and introduced himself to me. He didn't remember me but I sure remembered him. When I told him he fixed my knee years ago, he was all a flutter, so happy that I had come back to him for these annoying tendon problems in my wrist. A shot of cortizone later and out I went. " Got to be more careful as I age and not do so much. Hire someone to do the heavy work and just sit back and relax in my retirement " said the doctor.

Next to go was my eyesight. Reading glasses in my late teens fixed that problem. I thought I looked studious with the glasses on and since I didn't have a problem unless I was reading I didn't have to wear them all the time. The doctor said, "you may experience more problems when you get older" but for now this should solve the problem." In my early forties the perscription for my reading glasses changed. I was doing that trombone playing motion moving the book further away trying to find a focus! and suddenly bifocals were the order of the day. Then in my late forties I "got older" and the prescription changed again now trifocals are my constant companion. 
I have always had thick, healthy,naturally curly, light- brown hair. Well it was light brown many years ago. I have always taken really good care of my hair and never mistreated it.  My hairdresser always said that eventually, when I got older, I would "turn gray gracefully" due to my natural blonde highlights. Well that is true, those subtle highlights eased me into my fifties camouflaging the gray, gracefully. 
Weight has always been an issue for me. I struggled through 29 years of being a secretive restrictive anorexic with bulimic tendancies. People were always marvelling at how good I looked!  I suppose many mothers of six don't maintain a size six dress as well.  I worked hard keeping my figure. It was my secret life. Until my middle forties when a electrocardiogram noted bundle branches and I was outed. I signed into an out patient hospital program and faced my anorexia. Finally I didn't have to keep that awful secret. I learned to eat. The doctor in the program informed me that I would gain some weight and needed to maintain it. Fourteen pounds later I worked hard to maintain it but I still didn't accept my self emotionally. And for the record I am really not heavy at all. I only think I am.
 Now in my late 50's I still struggle to accept my body. After years of jogging I no longer run for exercise. Instead I stretch and walk my miles. I attend yoga classes.  At night and each morning I lovingly work cream into my dry, aging skin and pay particular care to my hands and feet using all the reflexology and massage skills I know to ease the pain of arthritis growing there. 
Recently I heard about Bee Venom Therapy and its wonders. So now three times aweek I get a beekeeper friend to sting my arthritic fingers with the hopes that the swelling will begin to dissipate. 
 And today as I combed through the naturally gray curls with my arthritic fingers, I saw in the mirror, the woman who my grand-daughters see.  I noticed softening curves that make sitting in my lap a haven as I read their favorite books to them. I was reminded of the feel of their little hands as they grab my strong arthritic ones and we brave the ocean's waves. I experience the delight in their eyes as they run into my open arms hugging my neck tightly each time they come to visit. These thoughts and feelings wash over me and for a fleeting moment I am able to accept with grace and gratitude my care-worn body.