Spending a major portion of 2016 dealing with some major health issues, my life was consumed with frequent PCP appointments, numerous tests, consultations with several specialists, day surgery, and physical therapy, as well as attending to some on-going, but not life-threatening, conditions that need regular maintenance.
My usual fall-back position in dealing with stressful emotional and physical situations is humor. I like to poke fun at myself and the funny but mostly ineffective ways that we humans try to deny, spin, and re-shape reality when facing some of the less wonderful parts of life. I don’t know if laughter is the best medicine, but it certainly is a good one.
After all of the general practitioners, specialists, physical therapists and nurses had contributed their expertise and advice, it was all crystal clear:
The urologist says I must drink copious amounts of water to keep things circulating in my kidneys. The three large kidney stones will be removed surgically, but that can’t be done until the fluid building up in my lungs is resolved. That fluid is likely a result of the fact that one of the stones is blocking the exit from my kidney, and will continue to do so until the surgery is performed. That surgery can’t be done until a cardiologist has given the okay! The fluid has put strain on my heart, so my cardiologist has advised me not to drink too much liquid.
In the meantime, the arthritis in my spine decided on an advance attack. I won’t elaborate on the pain involved in a ruptured disc, but humor made a speed-of-light exit from the room due to the loud screaming. Fortunately I had some serious pain medication prescribed by the urologist, which is what bought him my forgiveness for cancelling the surgery until further notice.
After crawling to the sofa and a short nap, my attempt to walk to the bathroom resulted in learning that my right knee no longer worked properly, buckling immediately and nearly dropping me to the floor. My husband helped me to the car and we headed to the health center, where he told me to stay in the car while he went to get a wheelchair. Of course, I listened to his good advice (as I always do). Instead of standing patiently by the car, I took a step. Hitting the pavement on my right knee would have resulted in a lot of additional pain except the aforementioned pain killers were still doing their job. X-rays determined that nothing was broken (except maybe my pride, but that’s a subject for a different post).
Obviously my spinal stenosis was getting worse. Now it was necessary to visit the specialist whom I had effectively avoided for almost a year because I am terrified of the idea of “spine surgery.” I know that Gronk survived it, but he is in a lot better physical shape and no doubt has much better health insurance. I’ll opt for additional physical therapy and humor. (Okay, yes, and pain medication.)
There are many more gory details, but I’ll pass up the opportunity to continue my thinly disguised attempt to gather sympathy. Suffice it to say that the surgery was eventually done successfully and I am now free of kidney stones; I can drink the recommended amount of daily fluids (enough to float a small boat) without asking my heart to do any extra work; my right knee is still stiff, but I can walk and drive with minimal difficulty. This is all wonderful, but unfortunately I now have no more excuses to lay in bed all day reading, other than admitting that I am just lazy.
There are so many changes during this stage of life, necessary adaptations, facing whatever physical or mental decline may occur with as much dignity and grace as possible. Going through an intense period of medical issues and facing life’s inevitable major crises is difficult at any time, but now they contain an element of seriousness that was not present before. Laughing over the image of riding this medical merry-go-round, I still hear a small, scary voice asking “Is this going to be my last ride?”
And then there are the small, daily indignities, hints of more to come. The forgotten name, the morning stiffness, the digestive system that no longer handles things in the same way. Those small things that happened to my mother as she aged, when I didn’t really understand that someday they would probably happen to me. Sure enough, yesterday I called the cat by my daughter’s name. I laughed, because what else can I do?
Maybe labels would help.
Images thanks to Pixabay.