Wanna do this the hard way? …
Some medical folks should put out a list of the conditions that begin to appear in people as they age, starting with vision at age 40. If I did not have siblings from the same parents, I would not know that there are symptoms—or manifestations of disease—that “naturally” occur as we age.
I most recently was alerted to this situation by a friend who is 60. She was concerned that she might be glucose intolerant—or worse—due to some post-eating traumas she was experiencing. She seems to get chest area pains and discomfort especially after eating bread or rice.
That one is not rocket science. She need not spend her hard-earned cash consulting with doctors to see if she has some rare disease rearing its nasty head. I do not know scientifically what is going on in the esophagus, but there seems to be a decrease in the ability of our pipes to move food along to the stomach as we age. Specifically, this tends to occur at about 55.
And while we are on the subject of pipes, how about that GI system? Why does it seem so mysterious when we experience more pain in the gut as we age? Our intestines require a good deal of fiber to keep things moving along. When we are younger, we typically have more raw food in our meals. As appetites diminish with aging, folks tend to simplify their eating to a meat and a carb, sometimes ignoring the all-important fresh fruits and veggies. Even “an apple a day” tends to fall to the wayside as dental issues might preclude taking a chunk out of raw fruits and vegetables.
Lack of fiber can lead to intestinal distress and also the dreaded constipation. So, fellow agers, have you ever heard of probiotics? Since I began taking them regularly some months ago, I am just that, regular.
I guess the real tragedy of aging is arthritis. This condition can keep us sedentary, which is exactly the opposite of what is needed for our joints and overall well being, not to mention our weight. Most of us realize the value of anti-inflammatories to combat this condition.
But, if there is any other condition—especially with the kidneys—that precludes our taking meds to diminish the swelling in our joints, the battle moves to a whole new level. Then we are faced with trying to fight the pain, which brings into the picture acetaminophens—which can damage the liver—and even steroids with its own set of problems.
Personally, I now have compromised kidneys due to an out-of-control infection a few months ago. Coming back from renal failure has its own issues. Not only can I not take anything for arthritis inflammation, but I am now denied one of my diabetic meds. What does a diabetic do if unable to take pills to keep sugars balanced? You’ve got it – insulin. So I am told that I probably will never be able to stay with just pills for insulin resistance. I began to take the long-acting insulin in the evenings, based on my morning blood sugar readings.
Even though having to take insulin is not ideal, it was working, but my body pain was getting worse. As things happen, I was less able to exercise—even taking my daily walk—due to joint pain, and, guess what, my weight increased. More weight actually caused for more joint pain—a no-brainer!
My doctor thought I should try steroids to combat the pain. She gave me enough for a week, which included the tapering-off phase. My pain subsided some, but my blood sugar shot up to 600! Not a happy compromise. It took over a month to get the steroids out of my system, during which time I was prescribed additionally a 3-times-a-day insulin to get my glucose numbers back to normal.
So now I am a month out and have been able to drop the extra insulin, and am regularly taking an over-the-counter pain med just to tolerate moving around. I am having a blood draw once a month to see if my kidneys—and other related readings—are returning to base line. There has been some progress, but we still don’t know if my kidneys will return to their pre-failure numbers. Another factor of aging.
In the meantime, I force myself to exercise as many days as I can. I know that the gained weight is exacerbating the issue. Weather in the triple digits has not been helpful, but I am trying to be creative to use my rowing machine and going to the gym. Everything is a struggle.
Today, while walking my dog, I had a conversation with my sister two years my senior who resides in another state. She was talking to me while painting her bathroom. It’s in our genes to “rage against the night,” so we do. Most of my sibs, who are all now retired, work harder physically than they did while in their working years. They can’t help themselves.
Our father ended his later years by walking the highways picking up cans for resale. He didn’t exactly need the money, even though it was useful. He wasn’t just worried about the environment. He just could not sit still. It’s in his DNA, hence in his seven kids’ as well.
Well, I have always said that aging is not for the faint of heart. Oh, wait, I guess it actually is. That is another condition for the future. This stress has got to do a number on the whole cardiac system. Fore-warned can only allow for some preparation as aging is built into the life cycle.
All we can do is walk it out—hopefully—every day. Do today what we know we need to. It may not provide a better tomorrow, as aging works exactly like gravity, but we can stall it along the way by the choices we make. If we don’t decide every day to fight the good fight, that, too, is a decision. As a cops and robbers movie expression goes, “We can do this the hard way or the easy way.”
If you liked this blog post … you’ll love “Phoenix!”
Beautiful stories. Beautiful art.