Aging Well | Last Active: Oct 23, 2020 | Replies (51)
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Reply to Scott, Vol. Mentor: My husband is five years younger, now 73. We went through the big life changing event a couple of years before we were married, when he was diagnosed as diabetic…and turned out to be very brittle (blood sugar levels often have little relationship to logical things like food and exercise vs. insulin taken. Our primary doc at the time kept impressing on both of us that we could live normal lives in spite of the disease, and, for years, we did.
He current level of helplessness was brought on when he announced he had retired and therefore would do nothing because he had "earned" it. He's been shown at various times that doing any sort of exercise quickly reduces his lower back pain, but he refuses to admit that's the case. He was able to work full time, fish weekends, even add three evenings a week of dialysis to his routine before his transplant, but the transplant, instead of meaning he was free from dialysis and a very strict diet, meant that he spends all day reclining or lying down with no exercise, which increases the back pain. He's been told by several docs that he needs to move to reduce the pain, but he flat refuses.
At the same time, I've lived with the limitations of Meniere's for nearly 40 years without allowing it to take over my life. At 77 (won't be 78 for over a month) I hike in difficult terrain as a volunteer data collection person for our state fish & game agency. Although I have zero normal balance function, I do vestibular rehab every day to maintain my ability to move about. Some of the instream surveys I do are a challenge to far younger people; we've hung ropes at various extremely steep places to aid us in covering our basic surveys. I might have "wussed out" when I first had serious problems with Meniere's, but my son had set an excellent example when he had a disc in his back deteriorate when he was only 16: although told that he basically couldn't do anything because the problem would spread up and down his spine, he asked for back exercises, does them daily (he's now 56), does some active exercise every day, and keeps his weight in check. He was originally told that he'd wind up in a chair, but he continues to hike, play softball and basketball, care for the acre he lives on. It is possible to decide how well you want to live when you have a chronic problem, whether or not you're going to allow it to run your life. When I was initially diagnosed, the doc told me to "quit your silly job, stay in bed, and take Valium." Fortunately, I didn't do that so am now far more active than my contemporaries–"in spite of" the disease.
Again, the pain levels of my husband's disease are actually lessened when he can be beaten into moving. His problem is far different than something that can't be made better or a disease that is progressively worse regardless of what you can do.