In summarizing a year when Queen Elizabeth II felt her monarchy had been under siege, she tagged it her “annum horrible.”
I now know how she felt.
Following a year-and-a-half of whirlwind planning and celebrating our daughter’s wedding, I was besieged by a mind-blowing 2017 filled with back-to-back illnesses. Without the resilience of youth, I wondered if, not when, things would ever get better. Aging gracefully is full-time work. Pile on depression, strep throat, back-to-back bouts of a disabling virus, sciatica, a torn meniscus requiring surgery, old age was the least of my worries.
Just when I thought life couldn’t get any harder than trying to maintain quality of life as a senior, I was reminded that I’m still open to everything that affects folks younger than me. Getting older didn’t exempt me. I didn’t get a “free pass” from all the other stuff just because I was now into my golden years.
What’s helped me wend my way back from the brink of complete insanity is my support system of caretakers. Folks with whom I’ve commiserated about my well-being, including my doctor, psychotherapist, naturopaths, chiropractor, acupuncturist, orthopedist, physical therapists, massage therapist, and myofascia specialist.
Heading into the New Year, I’m beginning to feel as though 2017 was just a blip, an inconvenience. I’m regaining my zest, my get-up-and-go. It helps that I’m beginning to walk like a normal person. There were times when I watched folks going about their business, and wondered if I’d ever return to walking like them. No hesitation. No restful pauses. No thinking about walking; just doing it.
Climbing up and down steps was tricky. At first, my bum leg “hitched a ride” with its healthy counterpart. Doing so long term, however, would’ve compromised the integrity of my whole body.
Luckily, repairing my torn meniscus and doing physical therapy had me daydreaming that someday soon, I might be able to climb Mt. Rainier. Although, even more thrilling is the reality that any day now I’ll be walking, unencumbered, around my neighborhood once again; my husband trying to keep up with me.
It’s not that I’m out of the woods, health-wise. The latest mystery my “village” and I are trying to decipher is shortness of breath.
In addition to my regulars, I sought the professional input of an otolaryngologist and my dentist. Next week I’ll see a pulmonologist. So far, the prevailing theory is that I’m not breathing deeply. Something to do with oxygen in, carbon dioxide out.
Short of walking around with a brown paper bag covering my mouth, I’m doing breathing exercises suggested by a couple of my health practitioners. The release of dopamine is a positive by-product. It keeps my stress level grounded.
I tend to self-diagnose; with Google’s assist, of course. However, self-diagnosing can be cyclical, non-productive and highly stressful. I believe its singular benefit is in motivating us to seek professional help. Only the experts can work through safe options with us.
It takes a Village.
Millie Vierra lives in Issaquah.