My daughter and son in love are always telling us what busy lives we retirees have, that we are always coming and going. They envision us languishing in bed each morning, going out with friends for lunch or dinner, shopping at all the retail stores, discovering new places to see, reading and pursing creative activities we love. It is a life that makes them just a bit envious. Frankly, it makes me envious as well.
While our life certainly has some of these qualities, languishing in bed isn’t one of them. You see once you have spent 60 or so years of getting up early for school, work, and kids you find that you can no longer sleep like you dreamt you would when you retired. Also, if you are anything like us, you spend an inordinate amount of time coming from the doctors, or going to the doctors. In between we are grocery shopping or picking up prescriptions that promise to cure what ails us. Those of you who are around my age might relate to this.
I recently realized there is also another thing we do a lot of: preparing for and executing medical tests. You know these certain medical tests.
- There is the dreaded colonoscopy where you have to fast for 24 hours only eating green Jello, 7-Up and clear broth. If that weren’t enough, you take pills and/or drink a gallon of gross tasting liquid that makes you run back and forth to the bathroom to clean out all the food you have ever eaten in your whole life. You haven’t been this empty since God placed you on this planet. By this time you have stripped your sheets, cleaned the carpets and the floors because you didn’t make it to the bathroom in time. You are running around in just a big t-shirt and Depends and begging to have the procedure just so you can get 20 minutes of good sleep the Propofol (Diprivan) anesthetic will provide you.
- Then there is the stool sample test which has you digging into your poop in the toilet for three days like you are searching for gold. You have to smear it on a little card, seal it and mail it off to see whether or not you have blood in it. I pity the mail carriers.
- Or maybe there is the 24 hour urine test which has you catching your urine and pouring it into a large gallon container which has to be housed in your refrigerator next to the milk! Yuck!
Who thinks up this stuff?
All these tests and more can tell the healthcare professional all sorts of interesting things about you so that further tortuous preps and events can be scheduled.
What my kids and healthcare professionals don’t realize is that at my age, maintaining my body has become a full time job. There’s not a lot of time for anything else. I am not as agile, ambidextrous, coordinated and fluid in my movements as I once was. I can do almost all of what I used to do but it takes longer, hurts more, and creates a lot of clean up. Translation? I fumble and drop a lot of what I pick up and if I do get it in my hands I usually have it all over my hands and me as well. This presents all sorts of interesting situations much like those that transpired when I was raising a toddler. Only now, I am the toddler.
Let me give you an example. I had to have a 24 hour urine test. If you are a man it’s easy because you have an easy transport mechanism for just this sort of event. I spent one whole night lying in bed trying to figure out how I, a female, was going to pee into this gallon size jug that has an opening the size of a coffee cup. My aim isn’t good. I pictured myself squatting but still standing over the toilet holding the jug between my legs. But I realized at 66 years of age, my urine flow is slow and inconsistent and I can’t squat long enough to get it all despite all the squats my personal trainer daughter has me doing. And you need to catch it all for it to be a successful test or you will have to do it again. I could just sit and use the little cup they give you but my urine has always been shy when I place that little cup anywhere close to the source of urinary output and besides I usually make a mess of it and lose half of it into the toilet. I realized I could order one of those bowls that sit on top of the toilet and catches the urine but it was going to take to long to get one and no longer have a medical supply store near us.
Finally, I had hatched a plan. I would use the portable bedside commode from when we were caring for my mother. Sometimes it’s good to save stuff. Then all I have to do is carefully transfer it from the commode pail to the gallon bottle and then remember to store the bottle in the fridge after each filling. Oh, that’s going to be fun. Can you see all sorts of scenarios being played out with this one? I can then wash the pail out and get ready to do it all again in about 20-30 minutes because that’s about how often I go to the bathroom all throughout the day and every two hours at night.
It could be a scene from a reboot of I love Lucy!
I wish I were shameless enough to let my kids see exactly what life for these two busy retirees is like. But, hey, give them another 25 years and they’ll know, feel and see it first-hand.
Seriously, my friends, despite all the medical mayhem that occurs in our lives, it is not lost that Thad and I need to consciously strive to take time out to enjoy the good days. We plan weekends away just the two of us (well three if you count our dog, Liesl), trips with our grandsons for some summer fun, weekly lunch with friends, bible study to feed our souls, and contact/visits with family to nurture our love for one another. And don’t forget the simple things that can be so special if we choose to look for them. Sitting in our backyard under the shade of a big live oak tree watching our dog hunt for lizards, reading on our screened in patio with the paddle fans on high, walking around our neighborhood and seeing deer, families of sand hill cranes in the spring time and even bears making their way back from one of our lakes into the preserve. These are the moments that remind us that life is still good and precious and meant to be enjoyed. All these things soften a bruised pride, and/or sore butt!
How do you survive and thrive despite the maintenance of healthcare? Do you try and see the humor? Has it turned you into a curmudgeon? What do you do to balance out a life of caring for your health and living the life you always wanted? Please share in the conversation.
Thank you for reading my post. If you have found it encouraging please consider liking, commenting or sharing it. Feel free to even re-blog – may these words take flight!
I have additional insights I’d love to share with you found in the pages of my debut book: Surviving Medical Mayhem – Laughing When It Hurts. To order a copy or learn more go to my website at www.lorettaschoen.com
Blessings for Health & Wellness.