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Three score and ten or more

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Because I Can

I am in and out of neurologist's offices with annoying frequency.  I have written before of the tests and treatments that were my experience back in 1991 when they first discovered my "polymotor peripheral neuropathy.  One day when I got lost in Augusta, trying to make it from the family practice center to the main hospital (about a block and a half) I put my head on the steering wheel, at an intersection, with cars lined up behind me, and I just sobbed.   At that time, I had just accepted the fact that my life was essentially over.  (That was about eighteen years ago, so you can see that I was a little over pessimistic).  Since that time I have had a quadrupal bypass, a shattered ankle, some wild urological infections, laser surgery to patch some holes in the retinas of both eyes, an aorta that wanders all over the place (they call it a tortuous aorta) and the typical loss of memory, energy, hair (on top of the head, it still grows well on my chin, in my ears, in my nose, and on many of those surfaces where we would just as soon not have hair.  I still have to go to the neurologist to be tested, prescribed medications and now, with a couple of vertebrae rubbing against each other I go with pain and frustration, and occasionally, I fall down or weave like a drunk for no discernable reason, but seriously, I am holding up about as well as any old coot I know who is over seventy five years old.

Going to neurologists fairly often, I find,in those offices a magazine called Neurology Today.  I read the magazine often and learn a lot.  In one of the magazines a few months ago there was a story written by or about a guy who has multiple schlerosis and some form of muscular dystrophy. The article was an explanation of why he continued to walk out to get the mail, help with the dishes, repair things around the house and do a number of things that are very difficult for him.  His family and friends kept urging him to sit back and let them take care of these things for him.  His reply to them was that he continues to do these things (him speaking) is "BECAUSE I CAN".  His point is, that if one fails to do everything that one is physically and mentally able to do, and allows others to do these tasks, soon one will no longer be able to do those things, and will become, in one's own eyes, an invalid, and be forever completely dependent on others.

I read the article with tears in my eyes because it explains so much about my dear wife.   She is so much more frail than I.  Since her aortal surgery in 2006 and the discovery of her total aortal dissection (which they are trying to control by keeping her blood pressure so low that she has very little energy) in 2007 and the shattering of her femur (above her artificial knee) last December from which she still needs  to use her walker with some frequency.  She is in almost constant pain, has terrible night sweats, restless leg syndrome that often keeps both of us awake at night, at has great difficulty walking, and has serious tremors in all of her extremities.  I had been preaching to her to not try to do so much.  She gets up in the morning often to fix breakfast, vacuums the floor and last week got out the steam cleaner and did our living room carpet.  Yesterday (Black Friday) she was up at four in the morning and was out shopping with my daughter and myself.   We were in and out of several stores as she tracked down presents for our children and grandchildren.  She overdid with enthusiasm and at bedtime last night had so much pain that she finally had to take a lortab to get some rest.  I try to keep her from overdoing, and try to do as much as she will allow for her, but I know that it is necessary for her to do as much as she can in order to maintain her strength, morale, and to keep the marvelous twinkle in her eyes.  She has to do things because SHE CAN.  I was thinking the other day that with all the old coot frailties that we both have, we have had more fun, laugh more (even giggle a little) and are much closer now than we were in the forty nine years of our marriage that preceded her surgery in Finland.  (Because we can)


At 7:22 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I've just been catching up after being in and out of hospital for the past week.

I think I'm beginning my serious old cootness. I've had more tests in a week than in my previous 62 years.

I had one of your Darnells tailgating me the other day. Psycho.

I can see why you don't like snow after your New York days but our snow is seldom that bad.

At 7:44 PM, Anonymous Beau said...

Such a heartfelt post- and those three words mean so much. When I see younger folks struggle with behavior and responsibility issues, I just want to grab them and somehow help them realize they have so much to embrace! I can't imagine how difficult certain health challenges must be, but it makes me appreciate what we have even more.

At 2:48 PM, Blogger Bstermyster said...

Wow. That is a lot of testing. I can't even imagine. My brother Jason has epilepsy and they have had a very difficult time trying to keep it in check. He has been trough a lot of ivasive nuerological tests over the last several years.

I am now catching up on the blogs I loved a few years ago. I started a new blog to blog about the adoption of my new son. Since I am off on parental leave until March, I have time while the baby sleeps :). Not baby blogger anymore. Going with:

At 5:22 PM, Blogger Norma said...

A great message. Thanks.

At 5:45 PM, Blogger Davo said...

Beautiful philosophy for those with more than 60 years under the belt. "because I can". Cheers, D

At 7:01 PM, Blogger Darlene said...

Hey Dick, I know just what you mean. I have nerve damage in my left leg and at times it pains me so much I can hardly stand it. I take quite a bit of neurontin, but am wondering if it helps. I am afraid to stop taking it to see though. I also understand Jan when she keeps working on. I do the same and sometimes it drives my Dick crazy. I believe what my doctor says though "use it or lose it" I think it is so true. It is hard to get old, one just has to have the strenghth for it. I am 82 and will be 83 in April, but I am not willing to give up yet. Keep on movin'!


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