Monica, Age 71
This is the first time I’ve been on a blog. Since turning 70 last year, my health dramatically changed. In October, I fell and ended up with 2 injured shoulders. I am currently recuperating from rotator cuff surgery on my right shoulder and will need a shoulder replacement on the left side. Also, I found out I have 3 herniated discs in my lower back and one compound fracture just above them. Before I had the rotator cuff surgery, I had to have an EKG. From this, it was discovered that I have atrial fibrillation. This past week, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea which may be causing the a-fib.
I am stunned by all of this, especially, the heart stuff. This growing old is taking its toll on me. Facing mortality is one thing; being disabled is quite another. They both keep me fully anxious! Oddly, I am in a pretty good space, otherwise. I am happily married, work 3 days a week, love to read , cook and travel.
When I was young (and younger), I was a mischief maker, an imp, a trouble maker. I was the kid parents didn’t want their kids to play with. I was never disrespectful; I was full of an anxious energy. I was expelled from 2 high schools and one college. When the 60’s hit, I fell into the whole hippie scene. To this day, I smoke pot every night and drink (mostly wine) a few times a week.
My medical issues have put a crimp on traveling, but I am learning how to accommodate them. For example, I mail my suitcase to the address of where I will be staying. I also request a wheelchair at each airport. These two changes have made it doable for me to visit my family and friends back East. I am so grateful for them!
Also, I am leasing a new car that has an automatic transmission! I cannot tell you how switching from a manual to an automatic has improved my day-to-day life. One other item – a placard for disabled drivers! Parking close to my workplace has resulted in my being in so much less pain.
My exercise routine is pitiable. I do my physical therapy exercises and go to P/T twice a week. To support my back, I need to use my abs for moving my torso, instead of relying on back and leg muscles.
Because I don’t feel sick (no fever, sore throat, etc.), and when I sit, the pain decreases significantly to the point of being easily manageable, I feel like I am taking advantage of someone or thing.
Another thing that I’ve become insecure about is appearance. It may seem shallow, but I love clothes and shoes, especially sandals and boots. Thankfully, there are so many shoe makers that make attractive, trendy comfortable shoes. They cost more, but they allow me to feel stylish and comfortable. Brands I buy are Born, Easy Spirit, Sofft, Clarks, etc. I like some height (I’m now 5/2″) but don’t wear anything over 2 inches high. Clothes are more problematic for me. What does a short, slightly plump 70+ year old wear???? I still love jean, leggings, cropped pants, skirts that hit just below the knee to midi length, summer dresses that are below the knee, preferably midi-length. Maxi dresses make me look like a fire hydrant (Johnny Pump in Brooklyn!).
It’s the wanting to enjoy each and every day of my life while facing mortality when that thought creeps into my mind. Every decade has it’s trials and tribulations and I am as ill-prepared for the 70’s as I’ve been for all the other decades I’ve had the good fortune to live. Ageing forces one to be humble.
My marriage is in a really good place. During my recovery, my husband has taken such wonderful care of me. We grow closer every day and laugh a lot. As with any marriage that has lasted 26+ years, we’ve had our life challenges – job losses, unemployment, cancer, deaths of loved ones. We seem to come out the other end closer and more in love, if that can be ;possible.
I am close with my family, which is a large one. I have a few extremely close friends from high school and college, and a few more great friendships have developed over the ensuing years.
When I look back over my life, I realize that I have everything I ever wanted – to live in California, to be with my husband and to have had a rewarding, exciting career. More money would be nice – I could travel in style!
Throughout my life, I hope I have helped others to achieve their goals, to get through a difficult time, to offer a shoulder upon which to cry, feel joy and glee, and to laugh….often.
Years ago, I went through a very difficult time in my life and I promised myself that I would try to help anyone else who I encountered who was going through something similar. I hope I have been observant enough to see a need in others where I could reach out to help.
Many of my friends and family members regret things they’ve done in the past, mainly life-altering decisions or choices that became life altering. I’ve searched deep into my heart and soul and I do not find I have regrets. Yet, I am filled with constant anxiety. Life is a TRIP!