Aging Gracefully: Part II

The Cane Chronicles

Hilda

 

Last year I wrote a blog about aging gracefully.

I emphasized the need to accept our natural bodily changes with dignity, push our egos aside and celebrate the privilege of growing older.

And then it happened.

One morning about a month ago I could hardly get out of bed.

I assumed I was having an arthritic flare up in my left knee.  I had these flare ups a few times in the past. But not like this.  This was a bad one.

The doctor confirmed that it was arthritic inflammation. He gave me a cortisone shot and hoped that my knee would respond as well as it had in the past.

Nope.

Advil. Ice/Heat. Heat/Ice. Advil.

Repeat.

The recovery time was taking longer than I had hoped and I was becoming increasingly more frustrated with my self-imposed lock down on the couch.

 My ego held me hostage in a place of fear. I was longing for simple activities like just leaving the house to make a quick stop at the grocery store. But walking was a challenge.

 I was afraid to leave the house for fear that I would fall and maybe break a hip…yikes!  My balance was off and my thinking was self-defeating.

Life interrupted.

And then while icing and heating my knee on the couch one night, I read an article on “How to get through arthritic flare ups”. Apparently, I was following all the recommendations except the last one: “let go of any shame and self-judgment regarding the use of supportive devices that could assist in your mobility; i.e. canes, walkers, scooters, etc.” The article said that unless one was bedridden, it was important to stay mobile if only in short spurts.

Whaatt???!  Was it time to invest in a cane????

My ego went into full overload:

Ego: “What would people think if they saw me using a cane? Are people going to see me as an old lady? Am I getting old? If anyone asks, can I just lie and say I was involved in an adventurous activity that injured my knee (skydiving?)”

Me: “Get over yourself. No one would ever believe you jumped out of a plane for fun. Get a grip and stop playing the victim! You need help…don’t be afraid to ask for it!”

So even though my ego was still blathering in my ear, I mustered up the courage to hobble into my local CVS the next day and asked for the cane display aisle.

And within minutes I saw her.

She had an ordinary look but I could tell she was for me. When I placed my hand around the handle, I immediately felt a connection.

I felt supported and balanced by her.  She took the burden off my achy knee and was my ticket to mobility.

Freedom!!!

I named her Hilda.

She was the inner warrior I needed to give me the confidence to be out in public, flaws and all, and not care what I assumed others might think of me.

I was pleased at how much easier and less painful it was to walk around the grocery store with Hilda and was surprised with how much help I got from others. For the first time I can remember, I actually had a guy, who by the way called me Ma’am, (I have to let that go) run across the parking lot and asked if he could take my cart back to the store after I emptied out the groceries. At first, I hesitated, once again trying to do everything for myself, but then gave in, and said thank you and released the cart. It felt good to get some help.

Being a martyr can be exhausting.

Oh…and on a side note, I have to say that I found some other good uses for my cane.  I used it the other day as a pointer when I wanted to point something out in a distance to a neighbor…and…I killed a spider with it (RIP). I’m feeling very comfortable now with my aide.

So, what’s the message here?

 Let go of critical mind chatter when you need support. Push your egos aside.  Asking for help has no age limits.  It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of humility and strength.

Thanks for reading,

Brunnie Getchell

M.Ed., Mental Health Counselor, Life Coach, Advanced Certified Hypnotherapist, Reiki Master and Author of eBook, Finding Happiness Even Without a Fairy Tale Childhood

Aging Gracefully

What does that mean exactly?

And is there an ungraceful versus graceful way to notice the changes of our aging mind and bodies?

Let’s see…

Is it ungraceful to be surprised by the unruly random facial hair I sometime notice in the mirror now while waiting for the traffic light to change on a sunny day?

Is it ungraceful to cautiously, yet automatically, grab on tight to the railing when approaching a steep set of stairs to make sure I don’t slip and fall and maybe break a hip?  

Is it odd that I can sometimes go into a room and forget why I went in there? And even more odd that I then begin to get involved with something else that I’ve decided needs my attention?

What about mixing up the names of my children and grandchildren and yes, even their pets on occasion? Ok…well maybe more than just on occasion.

Is it ungraceful to have an ongoing emotional dilemma over whether to let go of my landline after all its years of service?  Waahhh…breaking up is hard to do.

And what about those moans and groans that seem to happen involuntarily when I stand up from a position I’ve been sitting in for a while? Yikes!  When did I turn into an old man?

So, as I look over this list that could definitely be longer, I wonder if I’m aging gracefully, ungracefully, or just simply aging?

Unless the fountain of youth has officially been located, we are all aging in every moment of every day.

While there are a gazillion anti-aging products, surgeries, tucks and lifts available to us that can help smooth out the noticeable changes of gravity and elasticity in our bodies, in the end, you can run but you can’t hide.  Death shows up for all of us regardless of how much work or money we’ve put forth into masking our aging appearance. Some of us may just look firmer and more supple in our caskets than others.

“She’s 90 years old but she looks great!

She looks at least 10 yrs. younger due to that excellent face lift she had a few years back!  What’s the name of that cosmetic surgeon???”

I saw an add recently that I thought was hilarious. It’s about knowing what your Age Give-Away Zones are. Seriously?  Do we really need to be educated about this?

Nora Ephron wrote a book entitled, “I Feel Bad About My Neck”, in which she states that if you want to know how old someone really is, you just have to look at their necks regardless of any surgeries and attempts made to hide their chronological age. Too funny ~ yet so true.

So, what is the message in today’s blog?

Just be who you are.

Maybe aging gracefully is about how we choose to experience and live our lives as we turn the pages in the calendar.

While each birthday brings its own set of changes and adjustments to gray hair and wrinkles, it is still a privilege to grow older. Not all of us have this gift.

I can live as if I’m waiting for my last breath or I can live my life as fully and as happily as possible with wrinkles and all.

For me, maintaining healthy habits, staying active and connected to a strong support system while savoring and enjoying the  moments of every day that I’m alive is how I choose to grow older and not just get old.   I’m keeping it simple with lots of laughter and gratitude along the way:

I have adopted the following mantra:

Is this graceful or ungraceful?

 

Thanks for reading,

Brunnie Getchell

M.Ed., Mental Health Counselor, Life Coach, Advanced Certified Hypnotherapist, Reiki Master and Author of eBook, Finding Happiness Even Without a Fairy Tale Childhood