It’s a simple fact – as we get older, things go south. Oh sure, we can take care of ourselves – eat right, exercise, stimulate our brains. But no matter what, time eventually starts catching up with us.
This is something I haven’t yet come to terms with. After my heart attack, one of the toughest things to do was change everyday activities. We take for granted the ability to just sit upright and jump out of bed and start the day. That is, until your medicine suppresses the adrenaline response that keep the blood flowing to your cranium while you change positions, and you find yourself nearly passing out and falling over. That gets your attention.
Frankly, it’s frustrating as hell. You go to shave your head in the shower and your arm gets tired after just a few strokes. You have to watch fluid intake and output like a hawk, making sure you don’t gain a whole bunch of fluid weight, a sure sign that your kidneys aren’t getting enough blood flow. From the outside you like fine. But your body isn’t cooperating.
But, if you’re like me, it’s not only infuriating, but unacceptable. You keep pushing. And that’s where aging catches up.
Over the last month or two, I’ve developed a pretty nasty case of “trigger finger“. It hurts – sometimes quite a bit – and has weakened the grip in my left hand dramatically. And just recently, my right shoulder has started delivering a whole bunch of hurt, Likely, it’s rotator cuff damage, so I can’t effectively lift with my right arm. Especially not overhead.
But I have things to do. I don’t have time to rely on others to help me, and they don’t have the time to give. So I do things like change my brakes or move bookcases on my own, because, well, it has to be done.
Our bodies have their own ideas. They really don’t care what we have planned. I have friends who deal with Lupus. And Crohn’s disease. And heart conditions. And diabetes. A variety of ailments that really can’t be seen from the outside. And which, frankly, we don’t want to acknowledge. We’re forced to, of course, but we curse every time we try to do something we used to do easily and have to ask for help because we can no longer do it.
The picture above is of Lone Pine Lake. It is a little more than 2.5 miles up the Mount Whitney trail – and as far as you can go without a permit. I got there about five years ago. I wasn’t planning on it, i thought I was just going to check out the base of the trail. Then I saw these two older folks, in their late 60s to early 70s start up the trail. There was no way I was going to let them show me up. Took about three hours, but I sat and had a great lunch up there at a beautiful alpine lake with trout swimming right up to the hard rock shoreline.
I was checking things out because I want to hike Mt. Whitney. I want to stand at that summit. But a few months ago, when I went up to Big Bear Lake with my daughter, the altitude sucked the oxygen out of me. I had a hard time walking around on level ground, much less hiking a 5,000 ft. climb.
And here we are. Do I give up that dream? Do I just say “forget it, I’m too old”? Or do I continue to push as if nothing has changed? The later is ridiculous of course – things have changed. My body has changed. But does that mean I have to drop what I want?
For that matter, do my friends have to drop their dreams? Outwardly, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong. But internally, their bodies are rebelling, making things more difficult. Do we all just throw in the towel?
I don’t think so. I, for one, am too stubborn an SOB to give up. It’s going to take longer. It’s going to be far more difficult. It’s going to be an epic challenge. But I will stand atop that mountain. And I will look back down to the valley and know that I conquered. And I know my friends will be reaching their summits as well.
What summit are still wanting to reach? What’s stopping you? Share, if you will, in the comments.