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Sun, Aug 2 12:58pm · Age is about attitude, not chronology in Aging Well

A memory of Gilles RIP
Palolem, India 2013. I left the comfort of my laid back Palolem beach life, in my beach hut complex at Sai Valentine. Interesting how certain layout arrangements lead to very different patterns of socialization. At Sai Valentine, with our little palm-thatched, brightly painted huts, directly on the beach, each hut with its own little veranda and a hammock, all cheek by jowl, facing another row separated by a garden with comfy chairs around tables encouraging community sharing.
Our little community consisted of a Muslim family, a Punjabi family, two Belgian girls, Camille (Paris via McGill) and Tarik (Lebanese-Canadian), her travelling partner and lover, an Israeli girl, and the resident chairman, Gilles. All day long it was a matter of musical chairs, as people sat and chatted and moved on to be replaced by others returning from a swim, or a walk, or a meal. The only permanent member was Gilles, who, lucid early in the day, was amusing and entertaining, but by nightfall became nearly comatose. In one month here he has lost 12 kilos, he reported.
Beside our hut complex was a 100 metres of fishermen’s huts. All day l watched the men and women work in teams co-operatively, getting the boats into the water, manually dragging them over logs. And similarly, with greater effort, pulling them up at the end of the fishing day before pulling in the nets. Up to 15 men and boys worked as one person, pulling the boats back up, then pulling the nets out of the water again in seeming effortless teamwork. At the end of the day, they stretched out the nets in the sand and a dozen or more were seen mending the nets in preparation for the next day’s fishing. The fishermen and their families wandered throughout our complex always with a cheery welcoming manner. This natural blend of tourist and local working men and women is refreshing.
Several events have prompted a personal reflection on aging. I am asked how old I am by a surprising number of locals and backpackers.
On the train to Goa I slept in a six berth room. When I booked the sleeper I wondered why they went to such trouble to get my day, month and birth year. A family of five were already ensconced in the room when I got on the train in Cochin. My assigned bed was the lower berth, of three berths on each side of the room. I immediately realised why my age was so important when booking. To get up to the top third berth you had to have the agility and strength of a monkey. Opposite me on the lowest bed was the grandmother. While we chatted before bedding down, the father asked me how old I was. When I said I was 76, there was a palpable gasp in the room. After they recovered, we went around the room and everyone said their age. Then we came to Granny, who was a delightful, smiling woman, but frail and wrinkled, wizened with age, at 72!
At the beach hut complex, I had the strange experience of feeling the opposite of what I have often felt in our ageist society. For the first time that I can recall, my age was a genuine source of celebration.
Early one morning, just the two of us chatting, me over my morning coffee, Gilles drinking beer. I shared some personal stories and succumbed to his questions about my travel, family and life experiences. I asked him about his and the source of his drunken spree.
Thereafter, as he mellowed with one beer after another, to anyone who happened by he would say something, drawing attention to me. “Look at him! He is 76! I am 52 and I thought my life was over!” And he would regale them with some little anecdote I had shared. His incredulity and delight at my age somehow became infectious and in a variety of ways, in our small little community I became a bit of a ’cause célèbre’. My age became a talking point. For Gilles, who led the celebration with such gusto (he couldn’t stop hugging me and kissing me on my forehead), kept up the tempo by shouting, with his thick Gallic accent, “Look at him! Just look at him! There is still hope for me. There is hope for all of us.”
Fortunately it was done with such flamboyant humour that it wasn’t too embarrassing. In fact I was kind of enjoying the attention.
When I put on my backpack to head off to the bus stand to leave at noon today, I went up to the gathering of about 8 of my hut friends to hug, kiss, shake hands and say good bye. As I walked away I overheard one of them saying, “Look at him, he struts out of here with his backpack with the stride of a twenty year old.”
I guess it’s true, age is about attitude, not chronology. I really felt that today.
Sadly a month after I left India, Gilles died in a hospital in Mumbai, of cirrhosis of the liver. RIP Gilles.

Wed, Jul 29 5:17pm · My Opioid Addiction in Chronic Pain

I was going to say that my first backpacking trip from Singapore to beirut in 1962 was my start. (Getting to Singapore from Japan to Vietnam is another great story) But I realize it started long before that. I was always persistent in finding ways to see the world free. I joined the Canadian navy at university, not for patriotic reasons but to ‘ see the world’. For stretches of 4-5 months between school years, I worked on a Norwegian freighter to Africa and worked as an apprentice in the gold mines outside johannesburg at the height of Apartheid managing a crew of 12 zulus a mile deep underground. I worked on another freighter in the South Pacific -Tahiti, Samoa etc before airports there. All for free. My dad called me ‘the Gypsy’ (with apologies to Roma ) as a teen I somehow knew this would all happen. I wrote a story about when I was in grade one my mom packed a lunch for me . I took the street car at the end of my street to the far end of the city and come back the same way. It was the Queen Street car that went from the east end of the city to the far west end through all the ethnic neighbourhoods, one after another -chinatown Italian, Greek/Macedonian Polish ukrainian, Jewish, Roma . When I got to the west end I was too scared to wander off so I sat on a bench at the terminal, ate my lunch. got back on the next streetcar home. I ran down my street, exhilarated. A friend yelled, "hey jer? Where have you been? "
"around the world" I shouted back.

Tue, Jul 28 8:13am · My Opioid Addiction in Chronic Pain

Sorry. Don’t know why. But on another device I just googled "Flickr yaroslawd" and my pics popped up

Tue, Jul 28 7:38am · My Opioid Addiction in Chronic Pain

Thanks rwinney. If interested you can see a sampling of some of my backpacking trips. Most recently to the Chalbi desert . And Oman. My favourite trips were from Istanbul thru Iran to Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgestan to China and the aaaan des China ….also from the tip of India to the top at Kathmandu.

Mon, Jul 27 12:09pm · My Opioid Addiction in Chronic Pain

I am very familiar with Stephen. he and his many colleagues were all agreed with the same theory re language learning skills of reading and writing in my schools.

Sun, Jul 26 4:30pm · My Opioid Addiction in Chronic Pain

My Opiod addiction part 2
I lived a while without any painkillers and was in pain most days. My back and neck particularly. My family doc, who prescribed the oxides and fentanyl patch told me that a new synthetic opiate was available that was not all that addictive. They were a great relief for a while. I think I was taking the 300mg slow release version. They were wonderful . . . For awhile . I then took tylenol 2 s, which are available over the counter in Canada. And slowly upped them as pain persisted. I realized I was right back where I started. My docs attitude was you are 84 get riot the pain any way you can to enjoy your last days. So what if we have to increase the dose.
I returned to my pain specialist I sent my part 1 story to. My debilitating pain was chronic daily headaches, especially. The theory as it goe is the audio album classic headaches of my teens and 20s increased in frequency and reduced severity . If my functional pain was a 7, I worked normally, constantly aware of pain. At a 9/10 I had to lay down in bed and wait out the severity . The 9/10s became 4 or 5 times a week. He diagnosed me as having transformed migraines and MOH or Medicine Overuse Headaches. The plan he offered was to get off all pain meds and hope I reverted back to classic migraines which he claimed occurred normally except with patients with a long history of transformed migraines. That’s me. He supervised my withdrawal veeeeery slowly, a reduction only every 3 or 4 weeks. I got off the codeine in the Tylenol and the tramadol. It was awful . Some detox easily and others not so. I am the latter. Every ache in my body exploded. I tried vaping mj and tried kratom with no effect from either. I researched the web and identified two drugs used for my condition, Topomax and amytrypilene. When I my doc for one to try he explained that if there was improvement we wouldn’t know whether it was MOH or other cause. I said, try me. I started with topomax because he would’t prescribe amytriptylene, his preference until my heart specialist okayed it. But he was away for a month. So I took topomax and got very ill from it. When my heart guy came home he okayed amytriptylene. I titrated 10 mg a week up to 80 mg a day. Somewhere along that process my headaches disappeared for the first time in 60 years. My back and neck pain were much reduced. Bit bit bit the headaches returned, though. But nowhere near where they were before. He suggested I try weaning off amytriptylene as there is an dementia connection. Out of 100 seniors. 10 will get dementia , out of 100 on amytriptylene. 13 will get dimentia. I tried weaning but pain came back again. I’m a work in progress I was hoping to revert back to a classic severe migraine because they are so much more treatable today . No such luck. But I am in a much better place with pain than for years

Sun, Jul 26 3:17pm · My Opioid Addiction in Chronic Pain

I am proud of the piece I recently posted in the group here called "aging well". A piece I called ‘thinking about death "