Aches and pains in elderland


Back in May, Melinda Applegate, a guest blogger at Ronni Bennett‘s wrote that after retiring

[she] hired a personal trainer instead, put [herself] on a diet, quit smoking, started swimming laps and visiting the gym regularly [and adds that] the not so good part about getting older is that you can no longer put off getting physically fit and healthy – our bodies are amazing and have incredible recuperative powers, but if you go too many years neglecting and abusing your health as [she] has, the older body just starts breaking down.

is not for me!

An interesting view, but one I beg to differ from. My body may have great recuperative powers, but as I get older, I find that I cannot keep up with swimming laps or visiting the gym.
I never really neglected or abused my health. Quite the opposite, in fact. But I think that as you get older it is more difficult to get or keep physically fit and healthy, or at least it is quite different from what it used to be.
When I was young, I enjoyed running and thought it kept me fit. I went to yoga classes too, and between the two, I felt good and thought I could do this forever. Later on, because of back-ache, running became difficult, so I switched to golf, was a really lousy golf player but enjoyed the brisk walking. I went on with yoga classes, but found myself more than once with back-ache.

Soon 62Turning

Turning sixty and breast cancer made all the difference. After radiation therapy, my left arm felt numb and awkward at the beginning and although in two years I have completely recovered the use of it, I felt that golf was not an option any longer.
Rather than fighting it and trying to do and be what I used to do and be, I gave up on the idea of golf and bought myself a digital camera, thinking that it would provide me with a pretext for walking.
Also, before turning sixty (and breast cancer), I was on hormone substitute therapy, which I started at menopause because of excruciating pain in my joints and back. That had to be stopped because of breast cancer and the pains have returned with a vengeance. So getting fit and healthy the way I used to when I was young is out of the question.
Here I am in rainy Normandy and every movement hurts except when I’m walking, but I can’t walk all the time, can I?
Besides walking, I try to practice the Feldenkrais method, which helps reducing the pain in the joints. When in Paris, I go to classes twice a week, but here, I find it difficult to do it on my own.
Anyway, when it’s as humid as it is here at the moment, nothing seems to really help, painkillers and anti-inflammatory capsules seem pretty ineffective, except that when I tried to stop, the pain was worse!
Not sure complaining a little on my blog will help much either 😉

  1. This post has been sitting (ouch!) half-finished in my drafts folder for the longest time. Didn’t I tell you that I was the queen of procrastination? I apologize to Melinda for answering so late.
  2. On a daily basis, I upload quite a lot of photos onto my flickr account, but I choose one a day, which I blog at Claude’s Daily Snap

9 thoughts on “Aches and pains in elderland

  1. I hate the way my body now takes so long to mend. And one thing leads to another — I hurt my heal and that led to other foot problems and while that was heeling an old back injury resurfaced due to lack of exercise and it is taking forever to improve and I wonder if it ever will or if I am going to need to pull up a chair adn sit down to get the lettuce out of the crisper for the rest of my life.

  2. I so agree with you! It was a continuing argument I used to have with someone who would tell me “age is all in your mind” which tends to be what people say when they don’t have physical problems. Everyone ages differently but our bodies DO AGE. Some are luckier than others but I get tired of the constant pursuit of youth and fitness…I just want to let go and use the time for other fun or creative things. I think your recovery from cancer is a courageous story. Recognizing you can’t go back to a perfect youthful body and living with that makes you a more interesting and vibrant person. That’s my opinion and I’m stickin to it!

  3. Sorry you’re having to live with some pain Claude. I know how difficult it must be to move away from things you’ve enjoyed when you were more able. Good to hear you played golf. I have played most of my life but just for the enjoyment of it. Thought when I retired I would play more but actually only play a few times during the summer.

    I can relate to slowing down when getting older but I feel quite fortunate on the other hand. I will have been retired three years the end of next month and except for the three months following my retirement, I have not been ill one day with as much as a cold and almost feel as though I am getting healthier each day. Now ain’t that weird. On the other hand as we all know that can change over night.

    I retired on a Friday and although it was a day for celebration, I was feeling somewhat under the weather that day but kept the old chin up. By Sunday morning I was really feeling bad. Now I had never been to an emergency room in my life but I drove over to my sisters that morning and she suggested I go since I didn’t look all that well. So she took me and I ended up getting diagnosed with the “shingles”. At the time I really didn’t know what that was but boy I know now. I wouldn’t wish that crap on my worst enemy. No…let me change that. For my worst enemy…that is exactly what I would wish on them.

    I hope you get to feeling better. I know that you may have had to replace the love of playing golf to some degree with photography but that has its good side. Now we can benefit by your sharing your artistic eye through those photographs. Guess you will be watching the final round of the PGA today like me huh?

  4. To me it all seems to be in the well balanced mind of a person Claude. You certainly seem to have yourself together in that area. You are far better than me when it comes to the physical end of it. Your photography gets you out and about taking those beautiful pictures. I think you’ve been very active in so many ways. We all have to make adjustments for many different reasons whether we like to or not….and I think you are amazing Claude. Noone said elderage is easy….I think it’s one of the most challenging times of a person’s life.

  5. Four years ago I was pushing some heavy cartons around on the floor and my back seized up. That was the beginning of a happy story! I found a wonderful physical therapist/trainer who had the most amazing program: first, eliminate pain, but then! I finally got “body awareness” and an armament of exercises to do whenever and wherever I am…no gym, no equipment necessary. We worked on flexibility (I must admit that I was too rigid, physically and in other ways), strength, muscle tone, balance, and now, movement. Now I am on my way to starting dance classes. And I can frolic on the floor with my granddaughters or wherever. I wish every older person a Miriam like mine…she got inside my head and changed everything. When something goes awry, it can be a great opportunity!

  6. I’m sorry that you can’t take your hormone replacement therapy anymore. Ovaries are such pesky things. I was going to recommend calvados as you were in Normandy, but you are obviously back home now. I am positive that you will find a way to fix this problem. hang in there sister!

  7. Hi Claude

    Sorry to hear about those aches and pains — First thing in the morning I ache but as the day progresses they get better. One thing I must tell you is what I have learned about pills like Aleve and Motrin — they may help the pain but if you take them for a lot period of time they can do some terrible damage.

    A friend of mine had to go to the hospital — She had been taking those med’s on a regular basis – had emergency surgery –If you take them once in while it’s ok.

    Now for a laugh – Maya’s Granny said she wonders if she will have to use a chair to take the lettuce out of the crisper for the rest of her life –

    I have been doing that for a long time now but the last time I did that I had a h– of a time getting up from the chair — won’t do that again.

    So tell her she’s doing well from what I can see. As long as she can get up from the chair she’s doing fine!!

  8. I admire those elders who run marathons at age 90, but they are definitely the exception. No, most of us can’t do the same or as much of anything as when we were younger and that’s how it is. Here in Portland, I walk almost every day and beginning next month, I’ve joined a T’ai Chi class because, I think, a big part of staying mobile as we get older is maintaining flexibility.

    For many years in New York City, I fast-walked three miles every morning through Greenwich Village, SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown and every morning, I passed a large group of Chinese doing T’ai Chi in a park near Federal Plaza. Not only is it beautiful, it is something most elders can easily do and if what I read is true, it helps maintain balance as the years pass.

    I don’t have any balance problems yet, but maybe this will help ensure that I don’t in the future.

    I said at the top that I admire those few 90-year-olds who run marathons. I suppose that’s true, but I don’t like the media holding them up as a paragons for elders with the insinuation that those who don’t run marathons are in some way lacking. Elders are not wrinkly adults; our bodies are different from midlife people.

    It’s important to keep moving, but at the pace that our current bodies can handle without injury or tiring us for the entire day. I keep reading, from many different sources, that walking is one of the best things elders can do for their health.

  9. Hello Claude, I found you through Millie’s blog and I came in to say THANK YOU for the beautiful card you made for Millie, and to ask if it is okay for the link I have put in my ‘quik pic links’ on my sidebar? It is perfect and points to MyMomsBlog.

    And then I was reading your blog and saw your reference to breast cancer. I had surgery, radiation and chemotherapy for breast cancer late in the 1980’s when I was aged 42. I declined a full mastectomy against the advice of the prevailing theories of the time.

    But what really got me writing was your mention of golf and digital cameras. First to tell you that I took up golf after my recovery and played up until the late 90’s when I came up here to Queensland and lost my golfing buddies. I tried to start up again last year when I semi-retired, but I have some damage around my neck and shoulders that is making my golf game abysmal. And so I bought a digital camera, and started blogging.

    nice to meet you…

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