Wednesday, August 24, 2022

The Busy Business of Old Age

Being old is a full time job. It takes up a huge amount of head space, time bargaining, spoon counting, and energy. Add to that mobility issues and transit challenges and inflation and you have quite a storm.

(1) have a large quantity of pills in my day. I have them delivered. But nothing is automatic. I do a weekly pill sort every Sunday into these compartmentalized gizmos. And phone my doctor when getting low. He faxes (you read that right) my requirements to the pharmacy. But every single time, they forget, he forgets, one of the pills, so I have to phone the pharmacy and ascertain the status of the missing pills. My specialists don't/can't access my list of medications but proceed to tweak some but neglect to tell my GP. I have to then go to my GP and show him the *manual* changes the specialist has made to these meds. GP is informed by LETTER a week or so later of the changes. My province's health care system's data base is 30 years old and even though every year they budget some millions for updating it, it never happens. So digital management of my medical needs is absent. I should NOT have to run around organizing my own medications. Everything should be on line - the pharmacy, the specialists, my GP, me, all interacting on the ether.

(2) My GP is leaving to move to Nova Scotia as his spouse works there. I am seriously heartbroken. Our health care system here is in crisis and finding another GP is a huge challenge as there's an unconscionable shortfall in doctors. My existing GP is trying to find me a doctor due to the ongoing management (weekly) of my health issues. He's an incredibly involved compassionate and caring doctor and one of the best I have ever had. But he leaves in November. 

(3)I have fairly decent days and fairly awful days of pain, breathing, movement, take your pick. It's hard to plan. But I find if I have a "busy" day I need to rest the following day. Today is a rest day as yesterday was a family dinner out in Petty Harbour, a lovely spot, see pic below that I took in the later evening. Today, everyone is going off to have a meal at a place I love but I knew the car-ride of a few hours along with socializing with a pile of people and the car-ride back would do my head and my body in.

(4)Accessibility planning. Lately I found that those we were meeting were at the most distant table in the restaurant, already seated. Great view but what felt like two miles from the door. Last night was even worse. They get to places early and were there when we got there. I had to traverse the main floor, up a terribly rickety staircase and then traverse the second floor to their distant table - and dear gawd, they chose one of those dreadful high tables with stools. Luckily I had my cane, George, with me so I could clamber on and off the stool. I find they were remarkably insensitive to the needs of a visibly mobility challenged person but chose not to say anything as one of them is, tragically, terminally ill.

(5)Bathrooms. I always need to plan and clock the presence of. Need I say more?

(6)Tests, xrays, scans, this could be almost full time. And each one takes a day. Organizing a helper and possibly a driver as the main hospital is a nightmare of parking and accessibility with endless corridors to navigate, thus necessitating a wheelchair volunteer. No candy stripers of old here to help out. Often Daughter has to take the day off work to help out and I feel so bad about this as it eats into her vacation time. Another stress factor for the old. Leaning on our children for assistance and trying so very hard not to feel guilty about it. 

(7) Multiple other issues but this blog post is too long as it is. Inflation. Food prices. Budgeting. Medical expenses not covered by health care (in home lab work, physiotherapy, dental, hearing, podiatry, pandemics (yeah, plural). And more I am forgetting about. Fear of "The Home". Lack of home assistance for those who wish to stay independently living.

How are you all finding the busy-ness of aging?

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Running Behind Myself

 It's odd that. I leap ahead to the old me and often get caught up in breathlessness or pain and I'm really, really slow in learning the lesson of slowing down. Honouring the what is and forgetting about the what used to be.

I always moved at the speed of sound just about, multi-tasked ad finitum, accomplished so much in one day that others were astonished.

I've done enough reading to know that I was a type A personality, always eager to prove myself (to whom, you might ask, but I really don't know) and a classic workaholic.

All is changed now that I am a few weeks into my 80th year having just reached my 79th a week or so ago.

Grandgirl is here and staying with me until next weekend which thrills me no end. Our twosome time. She's enormously attentive to my needs and even to my wants. Her cooking is amazing and we plan to catch some movies and/or series in the time she's here. She will be working remotely for a few days, which is fine by me. She's a federal economist and we are so proud of her as she is - seriously - quite brilliant. Her long term partner is staying with his parents who have moved here as his dad, though quite young, is terminally ill. A real tragedy.

I am busy counting all the gratitudes in my day as I tend to lose track when my health distracts from such feelings.

I am so grateful she is here and so very thankful for our long close relationship since I first laid eyes on her. 

I have much to catch up on, calls to return, emails to respond to, half done knitting to complete, so while she's here I can get cracking on all of that as even in this small apartment we have two separate rooms to work in. 

We also plan some wonderful beach time at this glorious place a few miles from my house.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

The Unwritable


We all think we’re special. We all want to believe we matter and when that’s all pulled away either in our minds or by the actions, imagined or real, of another, something breaks inside of us.

And we can’t process the aftermath, the self-doubt and yes, the grief that ensues.

Tears are more frequent as we age, magnified, unplanned, spontaneous. Often with an underlay of fear and an overlay of unremitting anxiety, with pinches of despair and a dash of self-pity thrown in.

Old mantras intrude, old judgments, old tropes, old cliché-ridden nuggets of wisdom which might have applied to the younger, more optimistic self. But now are as ancient and cobweb-ridden as the receptor herself, exhausted and worn down in equal measure, well past the best by date.

Some days the old fire gets re-lit but with less fuel, far less tinder and much dampness in the logs. The flames can burn less brightly, but they do burn.

And the darkness recedes for a spell and the shadows tiptoe off to the corners of the room until the dawn.

Question: What do you fear most in old age?

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Another Completed Circle Around the Sun Thoughts

Yes, I'm the happy little cutie with my mother in 1946

I am quite astonished by all the birthday greetings rolling in on me. I suppose hitting the age of 79 is a feat to be applauded. Not that achieving this had anything to do with my healthful and perfect lifestyle. Not by a long shot. As some of you don't quite catch my sarcasm so there's a bit for you. Many of my really healthy friends are dead. Well come to think of it, most of my friends are dead.

Amongst the many messages is one from an old school mate who is a whole 10 days younger than me. she partly writes:

"Speaking of school reminds me of our old school and this bit of information might bring s smile.
One of our newspapers, the Irish Independent, has a Saturday magazine.  This Saturday it had a feature on Centenarians, Four centenarians were interviewed one of whom was Sr Mercedes.. She talked about her early life both before and after she entered  St Marie's of the Isle, but the piece that might interest you was how she became a Science teacher and introduced Science into St. Al's which was unusual for a girls school then.  She never taught me as anything science-y was beyond me.  Anyway I texted Gladys to let her know and she replied as follows"She was thrilled with wisewebwoman and myself when we burned hydrogen in air and got  H20, ie water".   I wonder if you remember that incident.  Gladys also said that your class was the first to study Science in St Als. Glad you didn't burn down the Science building anyway!" 

I calculated this was 65 years ago, which is incomprehensible really. I can remember the experiment clearly in our spanking new laboratory. Girls and science were at a great remove from each other then. I feel like a living history book. Along with science and physics our incredible headmistress insisted her "gels" be taught calculus by a male teacher from the boys' school across the river.  (Our school was a picturesque old red brick building in the middle of the river Lee). Higher mathematics were absolutely unheard of for any schoolgirl in Cork city in those days. We were incredibly fortunate.

Equally astonishing to my mind is that a teacher of mine is still alive today.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Good News

I'm finally walking. I have a marvelous physiotherapist who's one of the few making home visits. Not walking far but walking. Getting the odd night, very odd, in my bed as I still wake up with pain and have to move to the recliner for any ease.

I had to really talk myself into going outside my apartment and walking. Agoraphobia had set in - a fear of falling, a fear of being outside without help, a fear of catching Covid as my building is not safe. 

I drove my car after months of not. I met a friend for coffee. We are super safe and joke we're the only two eejits wearing masks on the whole island. But elders are falling like flies here and very, very sick. And mortality rates in my age group are very high. 

I had a treatment today and he noticed I was very tense. A type A personality does not drift easily into old age and serenity. I am pain free for now after the treatment.

I'm working away on a memoir of a year in my life way, way back in prehistoric times. Creative non-fiction. I am startled as to how much comes back to me. It's really all coming to life and I relive the intensity of that long buried time.

As for the rest of me, still taking my - what feels like - 200 pills a day and marveling at the fact that I have outlived most of my friends. I will be 79 in a few days and at some point later in that day I will enter into my 80th year, my 80th turn around the sun. I am astonished. I lived hard and fast for many years and had terrible depressions and considered ending it all many times.

Looking back, in spite of everything (life is far from perfect) I am so very grateful to still be part of the human race, still full of curiosity and occasional joy, capable of sadness and delight, still full of wonder and awe at how beautiful this planet is, especially my little corner of it.

We have a fishing village, Quidi Vidi (pronounced Kyda Vyda by many old timers!), right in the middle of our city of St. John's. This village is right around the corner from where I live and has fabulous restaurants, a brewery and a whole building full of incredible artisans while fishing life goes on around them.

Saturday, August 06, 2022

Rant Season


First of all, I offer you the above.

Then I offer you these:

You imagine these are comfortable to wear? The wires alone dig into the skin leaving terrible marks, sometimes the ends break loose and pierce the skin. Many scientific studies show they might even cause cancer from restricting the breasts so tightly.

As for the so called shoes, many I know (usually short women) had to have bunions removed surgically. And other appalling distortions of the feet. We don't need foot binding done to us, we do it to ourselves. I only had to look at Nancy Pelosi staggering around on hers in Taiwan and want to scream at the screen: "Wear comfy shoes Nancy, you're allowed, you're 82!"

And if you're a man reading this, imagine binding up your dangly bits in wire and rigid satin and teetering around in six inch (or any inch) heels. And thrusting all of yourself outwards in enticement. How long would you last?

And PS full confession: I did these nasty things to myself even though five foot eight. But not for long. And never in the last twenty five years.

But I so wish other women would wake up sooner and stop this spanxy self-torture and mutilation. But yeah, I know, ageism and so called beauty products are a trillion dollar industry.

Friday, August 05, 2022

What's Next USA?

I was flabbergasted to see many of my USian female friends post the above as their profile picture on Facebook today.

The comments were chilling. Many considering sterilizing procedures, their husbands considering vasectomies. Others stockpiling birth control methods. Others putting out words for friends who need abortions. Canada is taking in droves of them at the moment and offering services free of charge.

And then I thought, of course. The Handmaid's Tale, long predicted by Margaret Atwood (a Canadian) has arrived and this is how it arrives.

It's 2022, I keep reminding myself and rights are being removed in the country to the south of us by a positively evil misogynistic Supreme Court who are planning to take away the rights of gays next and have gleefully announced it.

All this trailing back to the rapist and racist they put in power in 2016. One who promised he would take his revenge on every woman who rejected him. A psychopath, fraud, grifter and grafter - who will never be charged for all the criminal acts he performed before, during and after his election. His (paid?) fall guys will take it all on the chin for him. Because that's how a mafia works.

Meanwhile, this is all a great distraction for a country burning  up or flooding catastrophically while racist cops stop and sometimes kill  those who drive or walk while black, and AK47 wielding 18 year olds kill random children in schools as the cops cower outside, afraid. And enshrined by the NRA is the right to bear such weapons, concealed or not. And Monkey Pox declared a national health emergency.  And in the midst of this, the speaker of their house marches off and pokes the beast that is China.

All this while climate change is the only item that should be on the agenda of the USA - the worst polluters on the planet.

/end rant 

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Ordinary Things

 I need reminders of the pleasure I get from ordinary things so I don't overlook them

I must have read this poem, oh, about twenty times since I saw it first on a friend's Facebook page a day or so ago. And then I posted it myself on my own page much to the delight of many.

It doesn't have to be sunsets and seascapes and the tops of mountains and gourmet meals and meaningless acquisitions, does it?

The ordinary doth suffice and can fill the heart with wonder.