I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Staying healthy in a pandemic

Iceberg Lake with flowers
My friend Carol put this picture on Facebook last week, showing this year's incredible view of Iceberg Lake on the Chain Lakes hike, which I've done many times in the past. She said the flowers are the most prolific she's seen, and I have to agree with her that they are almost unbelievably beautiful. A few times I've gone there on a July day to see the lake still covered with ice (earning its name), but this year there is only a small amount on the far shore. Our hiking group is not meeting for our usual Thursday hikes, but two or three people will get together to enjoy the High Country. We have a Zoom gathering once a week to hear what others are doing during this hiatus from our usual hikes.

The last few years I have found it hard to climb Herman's Saddle in full sun, which is the beginning of this seven-mile-long loop hike. Plenty of elevation gain and a lack of shade makes it challenging for me these days. I remember struggling and find that my ability to do these harder hikes is fading. I am no longer one of the people who looks forward with great pleasure to such strenuous exercise. And I am now limited in distance and difficulty.

It's natural and inevitable as I age that my hiking and walking ability should change. The fact that I can walk or hike seven or eight miles on flat surfaces without a problem should make me happy, but if you add elevation and sunshine into the trip, I am no longer able to keep up. I think I could probably still do this hike on a cool, cloudy day, but I am hesitant to try, since my usual exercise routine has been cut in half during this pandemic. No more daily trips to the gym, strength and tone classes gone, aerobic exercise now limited to neighborhood walks and the occasional outing with my friends Melanie and Dianne. The three of us walked yesterday on the Interurban trail for around six miles. It was easy and the cool weather made us all happy. The sun came out around noon, but the temperature never even reached 70°F, and when the wind came up, I was happy for my jacket. In August!

I have really struggled to find the silver lining in this pandemic. Every morning I drive to the coffee shop, and if the weather allows it, my friend John and I will sit in our lawn chairs outside and enjoy coffee together. Sometimes Gene will join us as well, but it will be a long time before we sit around the community table indoors, given the state of the coronavirus in our state. At least everyone is wearing a mask, or at least almost everyone, and maintaining distancing as required. I consider a few friends to be "family," and when we are alone together, we don't wear masks. They are all, like me, limited in their interactions with others. So far, I haven't known anybody to catch the virus and be hospitalized.

As I've said before, I think both my hubby and I had the virus at the end of March. Our doctors both said to stay home unless we had trouble breathing. SG was the sickest of the two of us, and I think he may have some residual after-effects, but nothing that would cause him to go to the doctor. He had a few telemedicine sessions with his doctor, and she felt that it would be counterproductive for him to come in. I myself had a complete physical, my annual wellness visit, in June, and everything was fine, other than a low white blood count, which resolved in another blood test. My lungs seem to be fine.

The truth is that I am still unwilling to reconcile how much aging has to do with it all. That, and the curtailment of day-long strenuous hikes, has taken its toll. I have learned that one of our hikers had bypass surgery, and he is already back on the trails a month later. He is already doing stuff I can only dream of! But then again, I have learned that you cannot use another person's journey to judge the progress of your own; we are all individuals and must pay attention to how much is just enough in one's quest to be healthy.
Health and good humor are to the human body like sunshine to vegetation. —Massillon
 Oh, yeah: that humor part is essential to one's ability to stay healthy. Some of my blogging friends are including uplifting and humorous sayings to their daily posts, and I look forward to them, since a smile and a chuckle help just about anything. I also feel very fortunate to have discovered both yoga and acupuncture, which seem to help with my everyday moods. A positive attitude goes a long way towards getting through difficulties. And since I have a dear partner to share my life with, a roof over my head, and enough money to buy good food every day, there is little to complain about. Plus, I live in a state that is taking this pandemic seriously and hopefully getting it under control. All reasons to be grateful. We have had 40 people die in Whatcom County from the virus, and almost a thousand cases. Very low in the scheme of things. Something else to give thanks for.

And with that, with my tea long gone, partner still sleeping next to me, it's time to get ready to start the rest of my day. I sincerely hope that you are staying safe during this pandemic, and that you will find someone to share a spot of humor with, or a spot of tea if that is not possible. Don't forget that this too shall pass! Be well, dear friends, until we meet again next week.


Linda Reeder said...

With the difficulties I've experienced, and am still battling, in my surgery recovery, I am up and out of bed early, trying to get comfortable, so I see your Sunday post hot off the press.
Your adjustment to the pandemic has been difficult because of your gregarious and active lifestyle, but you are coping. Yes, there will be changes now as age and change of activity level alter your abilities, but you can still do so much. I long to just be able to bend down and pick a flower of pull a weed. Age has slowed down my healing and this is going to be a slow process. Then hip replacement awaits. Hip pain is what is getting me out of bed and disturbing my sleep. Will I ever be active again?
Change happens. Age happens. We'll cope. We'll seek joy in other things.

Marty said...

“You cannot use another person’s journey to judge your own”. A wise sentiment I hope I someday learn to live by.
And I also worry about losing whatever ground I gained in physical strength last year, a bigger concern every day as I become aware that I’m aging.
Have a healthy week.

gigi-hawaii said...

That lake is so beautiful. You are 2 years older than I am, but in much better shape. But, you are right about humor. When you laugh, you release endorphins, which makes your pain disappear.

Margaret said...

That's a gorgeous photo! I would like to do more hiking, but last time I went up by Mt. Rainier, the trailhead bathrooms were closed. That's a bit of an issue for a coffee drinker like me. :) I'm trying to get out and stay active, but it's hard to be positive sometimes.

Rian said...

This pandemic is a challenge - to everyone around the globe. The US seems to be having as much difficulty (if not more) handling it as other countries. Adding to this is the political environment, racial unrest, as well as climate change and weather catastrophies - all of which make it difficult to maintain a calm peaceful day to day life. But we try... and if we don't want all this to affect our health (physically and mentally), I think it's important to be aware that exercise, social connections, and healthy eating can make a difference. For those that have some form of nature at their disposal for walks, gardening, or photography, etc. all the better. We have the wildlife that comes to our backyard to connect and entertain us. Life goes on... just different... same as aging. We just have to adjust.

Marie Smith said...

That lake is gorgeous. I envy that walk. Walking here is so flat, I don’t think I could do a hike there.

You are doing well with exercise in spite of the cancellation of so many activities you enjoyed, Jan. Take care.

Elephant's Child said...

I always look forward to your Sunday post - and indeed all of your posts.
You show me beauty I am unlikely to see for myself. I doubt (very much) whether I could see it for myself even if I was in the neighbourhood. Your walks fill me with awe.
And yes, laughter is at least as integral to me as my skeleton, and has kept me from drowning more than once.
Stay well, stay safe - and keep laughing.

Anvilcloud said...

"I have learned that you cannot use another person's journey to judge the progress of your own"

Definitely. And you are doing really well from where I sit. Really well.

The Furry Gnome said...

Stay safe!

Red said...

Aging comes in many shapes and sizes. I have had a hemoglobin that has gone down for years. I may be in good shape but I don't have the umph to continue energy level is a problem. But we must keep on doing what we are able to do.

Arkansas Patti said...

That picture is just stunning. I could get lost in it.
"I have learned that you cannot use another person's journey to judge the progress of your own" That phrase hit home with me also. Very wise words. That you still stay so active would discourage my daily exercise attempts if I judged myself and my inabilities today by you. You inspire me but don't make me want to compete. Today you all ready out do the 60 year old me. Thank you for the nudges that keep me moving at my own pace.

Far Side of Fifty said...

That is one beautiful photograph! I am so glad you can still hike even if it is just six miles and out of the sun on the level! The new normal is not normal at all...one day at a time. Do what we can do and keep smiling! Stay safe!

William Kendall said...

A wonderful shot.

Thus far I've been able to avoid Covid.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

Yoga has been my savior in this time. Having to stay home in a smaller world has made me more dedicated to the movements. Healed my hip flexor after almost two years of pain. The DVD's are impersonal, but do one in a Zoom with friends from all over the country once a week. Movement.

I'm sorry you are unable to do those incredible walks these days. Sounds like you're keeping yourself in good stead, though. Peace to you.

Glenda Beall said...

You and my 91 year old brother put me to shame. He walks two miles every day and has been sick with virus and pneumonia. I am lucky to do ten minutes on the bicycle at Physical therapy. But the PT helps me so much with my fibromyalgia and other problems. This weekend I have not been outside my front door. My neighbor bought groceries for me and brought in my mail, so I have no need to get out. My deck is nice, my container garden is flourishing with one jalopena pepper on the plant. I try to think of my blessings and not dwell on what I have lost, but I didn't have the outdoor life you have had. That picture on your post is so inviting. I wish I could be there. Stay safe and smile.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Aging continues to rob me of my eyesight faster now than ever. I miss hearing from my blog friends as I leave no recent posts. It is hard to type now.
Covid is changing the world. We are old now and we will not likely see the new ways of our working forces and the ways of commerce as it will be so different. I sense that we are the last of an awesome era. By 2025 it will start to be the next era. Can you imagine it?