This post links in with my last one concerning health and well being but with a different twist.
I have just finished reading “Midwinter Break” by Bernard Maclaverty, a thoughtful tale of a middle aged couple taking a winter break in Amsterdam. We get to see past events from their long relationship from both their view points and to understand the ups and downs that are an inevitable part of any long standing relationship. At one point they mention the ‘Ailment Hour’, an hour set aside each day, usually after breakfast when they discuss their current ailments, diagnosis, recovery or what step to take next. I found this amusing as I recognised only too well the aches and pains they refer to. The author then highlights another couple who treat their aging ailments in the same way but refer to the time spent as the ‘Organ Recital’ and this made me chuckle aloud.
Some months ago we spent a weekend away with two friends whom we know very well and couldn’t help laughing as we all arrived at the breakfast table and brought out our bottles and packets of tablets and pills. Some were most definitely needed, medication for diabetes for one and an iron deficiency for another but we also had a wide array of vitamins and mineral supplements, glucosamine and turmeric. We are all getting sucked in to the belief that some or all of these ‘magic’ ingredients will ease the ache and stiffness of our joints as they grow older, that a full dose of Vitamin B will stave off memory loss and on it goes. I am not criticising myself or our our friends for taking these supplements, they may well help and almost certainly are doing us no harm, what I am questioning is the validity of all these aches and twinges. Are they serious? or do we just notice them because we have the time to do so?
I consider myself to be a busy and active older person, I spend time with my grandchildren, volunteer at the library, attend Tai Chi class and walk almost every day for a few miles or more, do my own housework, read and write, cook and enjoy trips out to cinema and theatre, but I cannot escape the fact that I have more head time than when I was working in a full time professional capacity. If I had to jump out of bed at 6.30 am and rush through an early morning routine and head off to work I wouldn’t have time to wonder about the ache in my right hip or to check on the knee twinge I felt walking yesterday. I am not trying to discount the genuine illnesses that come along with age to many unfortunate people, the pain of arthritis, the ache of rheumatism are all too real but I have noticed that when I have a grandchild to stay for a few days and my hours are packed with activity I rarely notice any twinges.
As a dear friend once commented, ‘The good thing about getting older is that this week’s ache or pain appears and takes all your concentration, so allowing last week’s ailment to fade into the background.’
So I am determined to give my twinges less thinking time, to cram all the cares and concerns about my physical health in to the Organ Recital and do my best to banish any stray thoughts that may appear outside the appointed time. My Father , who will be 94 in April has the view that if your body seems to be working OK when you wake up, then get up and face the day with gratitude and this seems like a good attitude to me especially when I am lucky enough to have good health apart from those occasional twinges. Now all I have to do is master my thoughts!