|Pink blooms in the driveway|
I sat down and considered my situation. I couldn't continue, and my friends were very solicitous. Right away one of the guys took my pack, and we discussed options. If I could make my way down to the road (Mt. Erie has road up to the top, but we go on the trails, for obvious reasons), then Steve was willing to jog back to the parking lot and get his car, and we would then drive to the top to join the others. Although it wasn't quite as easy as all that, we did it, and with the help of so many of my dear friends, I was able to return home in time to make an after-hours appointment to see a doctor.
He took x-rays (normal) and considered that with the pain I have it is probably a meniscus or ligament tear. After I got home and began my own research, I came to the conclusion that it is most probably a meniscus tear, although it wouldn't make much difference because treatment is the same. I'm able to walk as long as I don't bend my knee with weight on it, so I'm walking stiff-legged and slow, and I'm able to do that without any pain. If I bend it even the slightest bit when walking, I feel the pain. When I'm sitting I can bend the knee fully without pain.
So now you have the background of my latest dilemma. I cannot walk fast (so that means no walks with the ladies on Saturday mornings) and I cannot hike (no Thursday hikes with the Trailblazers) until sometime later. Maybe. I have done all that I know how to do, such as ice and compression, although it's almost impossible to stop using one's knee completely. In my research I discovered that by the time you get to be my age, the degenerative changes in the meniscus could easily lead to a tear with overuse. I'll just have to wait and see if it gets better with time. If it doesn't, I will then be referred to another doctor, but the medical profession is unwilling to do that until it has a chance to heal on its own.
But this latest wrinkle is on top of the distress I've recently felt in my back, which got me started taking yoga classes a few months ago. My back feels better and I've changed some of the ways that I move, but the changes are going in one direction only: toward becoming less mobile and learning how to live in an older body. I'm afraid I keep forgetting that I'm old; as long as things don't slow me down I just keep going at my old pace. That must change.
When I was young, I would think about all that I wanted to do before I lay on my death bed so that I wouldn't wish that I had made different choices while I still could. It never occurred to me that there would be a transition period between being robust and active and that bed. Now I'm realizing that as time goes by, wisdom requires taking stock of the condition of one's body and making adjustments. Small or large adjustments, they are part of what I must accomplish in order to age gracefully.
Looking back, I can see how much I've changed since I celebrated my seventieth birthday. Three years is a long time in the eighth decade of life. I've got so many blogging friends who are my age or older, and they have become beacons to guide my way through the shoals of illness and infirmity. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, once wrote, "A healthy human environment is one in which we try to make sense of our limits, of the accidents that can always befall us, and the passage of time which inexorably changes us." I will try to make sense of those limits as gracefully as I can, and try not to whine too much about them. At the end of the day, we're all in the same boat.
My latest endeavor, volunteering with the Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement (WAHA) as an end-of-life choices facilitator, has already opened my eyes to many different ways to approach one's inevitable demise. Filling out one's Advance Directive is something that should be done by everyone, whether young or old. Writing the last chapter of my life has become a conscious act, rather than one that once seemed far in the future, so distant I could not see it. I remember when I would say, as a young person, the phrase "for the rest of my life," and that seemed impossibly long. Now I can see it clearly. I am being helped by friends near and far, ones I see every day and those whom I only know through their blogs. I am still making new friends during these times, and I am hopeful that I will continue to be able to give and receive assistance as I move through the coming days, months, and years.
I am grateful that I have this particular venue to examine my life and to receive your thoughts about this big old boat called life that we share. I'm confident that I'm on the right track, even if I have to walk that track slowly and carefully, conscious of every step. Maybe that's not such a bad thing; it might make the days slow down a little and give me even more time for contemplation.
Today I will get up and perform the Five Tibetan exercises (21 times, as always), with care as I feel what parts of my body I need to be aware of protecting. Then I'll have breakfast and head out to the coffee shop to join my friends there and quaff that latte I'm anticipating with pleasure. My partner is still sleeping next to me, and he might even still be asleep when I head out. When I return we will spend some time together, talking and laughing and enjoying our Sunday rituals. One of them is discussing this post, which he will read while I'm getting caffeinated.
As always, I will look forward to the wisdom you leave for me in your comments. Until we meet again next week, I wish you as always every good thing life has to offer. And don't forget to be grateful for your friends; I'm one of them and I will feel your virtual gratitude through the ether. Be well.