Saturday, December 08, 2012

Aging

 Most of the time I don't think much about my age. It's a fact but not one that seems to have much impact until something happens to remind me. That something recently was doing a lot of leaf blowing, climbing up a sand dune at the coast, some other physical things, and ending up with pain in the muscle on one side of my leg, right below the hip, where it attaches. I wasn't sure where the problem originated, but it was definitely interfering with my daily life. I was not only in discomfort but suddenly not walking right.

Because it didn't immediately go away I began to look at the possible reasons it happened. One of my legs is shorter than the other and years ago a structural masseuse told me that one hip and shoulder were higher (one foot 1/2 size smaller than the other). She felt she could fix the irregularities with enough adjustments-- painful ones. I talked to my chiropractor about it, and he didn't actually think it'd be beneficial at my age. In short, it could throw a lot of other things off in trying to do that.

There was another possible reason this was happening now. When I was in my late 30s I was throwing a bale of hay over a fence to our livestock and the way I twisted caused so much pain in my hip that I had to lie on a bale until the pain subsided. Now I wondered if that had left that joint weakened or susceptible to arthritis. In that region it's hard to tell from where pain originates.

For over ten years I have worn tennis shoes with gel inserts and that had let me forget about the finicky hip for a long time until now. In trying to figure out what this was I found out I could not, when lying on my side, lift that leg laterally up. The other leg could do it but not that one.

Well, I am back to walking normally but still have discomfort if I move wrong and if I am not careful, I end up with the knee hurting as the whole thing gets out of whack. It took weeks before I could finally lift my left leg laterally from the floor. Being unable to do it left me feeling like a bird with a broken wing.

What I think is that overdoing it when old is one good way to end up needing a joint replaced or a permanent handicap. There is the old adage-- if you don't use it you lose it, but what about overusing it when eventually cartilage and joints can wear out. It might seem great in old age to run marathons, etc. but is that a factor in so many aged having hip and knee replacements. Too much weight sure isn't helping my joints or muscles.

I think-- but am still figuring it out-- that it's finding the balance that is part of successful aging-- use it but don't misuse it. Eat it but not in excess and likely not as much or all the things that once were possible. Sugar used to be something I liked and now it's something that leaves me feeling less good afterward. And on it goes as I find new things about this business of being old.

Of all the things in life that fascinate me, I think aging is the greatest. It is so awesome/horrifying to realize how we change through the years and despite the talk of this or that to make someone stay young or age faster (when you are young), it all proceeds at a pace. It's kind of funny how some people talk about how they look younger as though it's a factor in it. It's not. We all are aging whatever we might think we look like.

When I watch a show like the History Channel's The Hatfields and the McCoys and see the characters' lives go past, there are the young, so strong and virile, then those same ones reach old age bodies. They live a life, if they are lucky, and they get old. The lucky ones reach that point. They change with the years.

I remember all my family members who are now gone and how they seemed to me and then what it was like as they aged into their last years. I see it in my pets. The young ones, the old ones, and the gradual changes.

Then there is my own body now 69 and heading toward 70. As astounding as what has passed is what lies ahead. I look at photos of myself as a child, then a teen, finally a young woman. pregnant, with small children, teens, an empty nester and who knows what's next. It's hard for me to believe those other people were me.

A few pieces of my own story up to now-- through photos.



And on it goes.

20 comments:

Annie said...

Nice timeline photos! Aging seems to be something we have to grow into, always learning new ways! Just when we think we have it all figured out, the game changes and we have to figure it out all over again. I hope you are able to deal with that leg pain effectively.

DJan said...

I had a very painful pelvic fracture with concomitant nerve damage in my right hip. I lost the internal iliac artery down that leg, too. It acts up on me every now and then but I keep on going. I can't run any more, but now that I'm 70 I will keep using this old body until it seizes up on me. We are not only of an age, but also of similar mindset too, it seems. Love those photos!:-)

Lynn said...

Lovely photographs on your timeline, Rain. Having just turned 71 I find it insulting I can no longer walk for any length of time without hip pain. I’m not content with a sedentary lifestyle. Having to garden with a stool, working frequent bench stops into the landscape, hiring help to clean spaces on a ladder tics me off. OTC pain relief doesn’t help. The doctor has me on Flexural as needed but I hate taking pills and usually wait too long because I don’t want to feel drowsy. Vent, vent, vent. What is nice is to see how you, Annie and DJ are handling this adjustment.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, Rain, I'm not sure what you mean when you write about your hip pain. I complained of hip and leg pain for a couple of months before seeing a physician - a physician who informed me that, from what I told her, my pain was not hip pain which would be toward the front. She told me that my pain was butt pain - caused by back injury. She proceeded to manipulate my affected leg while I lay on her table, proving to me that I had no hip pain.

Now, I know that I suffer bouts of sciatica and know how to cope with them. From the Merriem-Webster online dictionary:

sci·at·i·ca noun \sī-ˈa-ti-kə\

Definition of SCIATICA : pain along the course of a sciatic nerve especially in the back of the thigh; broadly: pain in the lower back, buttocks, hips, or adjacent parts

From the Concise Dictionary:

sciatica noun (Concise Encyclopedia)

Pain along the course of the sciatic nerve, from the lower back down each leg. It often begins after lower back strain and is associated with spinal disk herniation.

Hope you get rid of all of the pain, whatever its root cause.
Cop Car

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I love seeing all those wonderful pictures of you, through the years...
Aging is quite overwhelming, at certain points, I must say. Part of what I am dealing with is seeing all of us who have been friends for so very many years, literally 'falling apart'...! I think of how young and full of life we all were and now---here we are---facing all the things people have to face as they go into the last part of their lives. It is quite overwhelming, to say the least! The physical problems are stunning! And, it changes everything.

Diane Widler Wenzel said...

The part I don't like about the pain tha I notice at the back of the hip is discomfort in riding in a car. Limits me. Or it could.

robin andrea said...

I love these photos that you've posted here, rain. The aging process is so interesting. The degenerative arthritis I have in my neck is starting to seriously hamper my daily activities. I don't even carry my camera on a strap around my neck anymore. Even that hurts. I hope we both find pain-free days in our future!

Celia said...

Enjoying your pictures. Makes me think. I too have hip pain, related to back problems. I loved the "use but don't overuse." I find myself thinking about the changes I've made, I too have a stool for sitting to garden; it flips over into a knee pad with the legs becoming arms to lift myself back up. Makes me laugh, I remember years ago wondering who would need such a device.

Taradharma said...

great photos of you throughout your life. I like to look at photos of my grandmother and great aunts when they were infants, as children on the Great Plains, camping in Wyoming. I only knew them as 'old ladies' and yet once, they were tiny naked babies with their whole lives ahead of them.

I've had to adjust my activity levels as I age, and sometimes that's hard to accept. And yet I am still a very young old, and there is opportunity for improvement on the physical issues. Knowing how to balance and how much to push is an on-going lesson.

Anne said...

I am a little more than 10 years beyond you, Rain, and very close to looking at the end. Various parts of my body seem to give out from time to time. Then, somehow, begin to function again, perhaps not quite as well as before. I do hope your hip turns out to be one of those temporary glitches.

You are right that aging is a fascinating process. But disconcerting.

Rubye Jack said...

These photos are so much fun to look at and you still look great of course. I'm finding that as my body rebels my mind is making all sorts of discoveries and connections that are exciting to me. So far, I really do not mind getting older. For the most part.

Rain Trueax said...

As we were on the long drive to tucson from oregon-- I thought I'd be extra careful how I stepped up in the Silverado. The hassle with the cats, the leaning into the backseat for them regarding this or that, and I forgot about being careful. The movement and discomfort improved. It's not in the spine probably because it's in the side of the leg and Farm Boss could feel a lump there early on but it's gone. It mostly impacts how the knee is but I did a lot of stretches while in the truck which may have helped. I know I'll have to watch it down here to not aggravate it more.

I appreciate all the information as what something is one day may not be what it is the next.

Rain Trueax said...

One more thing I had good results for years with wearing Asic tennis shoes that have gel inserts. I had begun having hip discomfort from too much walking until I got started with those and they made all the difference.

Lynn said...

Thanks, Rain. I have inserts too. Oh, and ice packs help. While we are talking about improvising and you are travelling I’d like to hear more comments on what helps. Like I have scissors in every room for anything from pesky packaging to opening foodstuff. I got a kick out of my “young” doctor as he reviewed my last blood work. He was almost giddy with the good results. Easy for him! I may try to live long enough to see him limp.

Rain Trueax said...

I have more on our travels in the Rain Trueax blog tomorrow. but it's more about the cat end of it than my own old body end. I will say that the yahoo i said in Kingman when I finally could lift the left leg laterally might've been heard in the next room. It's still a real effort and requires concentrating but it finally began to work. I am still amazed that for so long it didn't.

More tips on aging helps definitely appreciated.

Rain Trueax said...

Oh and the guy with me in the photo with my first car, that was my cousin. He taught me to drive and we had a lot of fun together over many years. On that side, I had all boy cousins and that is definitely fun for a girl. That and my brother have left me still enjoying the company of guys as pals.

joared said...

Yes, aging is an interesting process, but we've been doing it all our lives with all sorts of pains off and on. Once we get to a certain number of years, which can be different for each of us, our aches and pains seem to take on a different perspective and may increase in frequency it seems to me.

We can have body pain with a neurological source without actually feeling pain in the spinal cord. You might want to consult a physician who could suggest some tests to rule out possible issues -- better than permanent damage. ;-) Of course, if you know for sure this is what you had before, that's another matter.

Rain Trueax said...

When lying on my side I could not lift my leg straight up as easily as the other one, I figured if that continued, I'd go to the doctor. I am not one to go too quickly for most things and like to see if my own efforts will solve the problem. I've had knees before that would hurt after doing something wrong and eventually they straighten up and fly right. With this it was complicated by our needing to drive to Tucson so no point in going in, getting to a therapist and having to quit right away (assuming I could even get in that quickly). I definitely will do it though if I still cannot lift that leg as high as the other by the time we go home. It seems that it where the muscle attaches based on the swelling there that my husband could feel but which has now gone down. Here in Tucson walking seems normal and very little pain but I will keep an eye on it.

One thing I believe about old age is we need to be aware of differences in our body. Our own alertness to that is more valuable than yearly physicals where again if you can't go in with a clear understanding and honesty about how you feel, it won't be that valuable.

Hattie said...

People like you who have done hard physical labor will end up with a lot of aches and pains. Do you have a hot tub or access to one? I was experiencing a little knee pain going up and down stairs, but a session in the hot tub at a resort really fixed that up.
I think palliative measures work best and want to avoid drugs at all costs.
And I loved those old photos of you. A looker still, I'd say!

Rain Trueax said...

Thank you. We used to have a hot tub and have talked of getting one again. With this I used a hot pad when I first got it but didn't spend a lot of time with it as maybe I should have. I am a fan of BenGay and similar products which some say shouldn't really help but do me.