Monday, February 17, 2014

Relearning How To Take Care

It is late Sunday afternoon. Today I walked my 10,000 steps in the neighborhood. No sweater or jacket because it is warm outside. Only six weeks into the new year and what a range of weather we've had. Several nights of freezing temperatures when we covered plants with sheets and towels. Days of pouring rain and dampness. And now these days of warmth and sun.
The garden does not look good. All is straggly and much of it is brown. The banana trees and hibiscus, the ferns and Mexican love vine all need to be trimmed or cut back. That 12-14 foot ginger took a beating, but all is not brown.  The bottom four feet are still green, so we won't have to cut that to the ground. That's good because the last time we had a few nights of temperatures in the 20s, all the ginger turned brown. We hacked it back to the roots and it took over a year to grow tall which certainly denuded the back garden.
Enough of this about the weather and the garden. What is really happening in my life in 2014 is the total take over of my time and my energy in the service of my aching aging body.  Days are filled with appointments with professionals who are working - with me - on my body and soul. Everything that is happening in/with my body is SO related to my day to day life. I've always known this to be true, and here I am, relearning that lesson once again.
Who knew what would transpire after I asked the nephrologist overseeing my blood pressure if Lisinopril causes that hoarse raspiness in my throat. I'd read about this drug's side effects. Perhaps I was experiencing one?
"Before we change medications," he said, "you should see an eye, ear, nose and throat doc. Let's make sure you don't have anything wrong with your throat." Right.
The new doc made a film of my vocal cords, found no disease, gave me a CD of her test and sent me on to Hermann TIRR for six weeks of voice therapy. I also mentioned I was not hearing well and so she sent me to yet another doc for hearing tests. I was right. ES was right. I am deaf. In both ears. And so now I must investigate hearing aids.
On Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 9:00, I visit the voice therapist, a lovely patient woman who after five weeks, knows a lot about me. Voice therapy is personal. Perhaps because having a 'voice' is who we are as human beings? this work seems to trigger lots of feelings.
My voice therapist has discovered that the muscles in my neck and shoulders are beyond tight and may well be contributing to that rasp. I also talk 'low' instead of somewhere near the roof of my mouth. I've been swept into the difficult tasks of learning to breathe from the belly and changing the resonance of my voice. Indeed. All of this I find very difficult to do. It is slow going.
There is more. When I had my annual physical before the Christmas holidays, I told my primary care doc that my hips ached, my neck is always sore and I asked if she would prescribe a physical therapist who can hopefully untie my knotted muscles. She agreed and I added yet another series of weekly appointments to my calendar. ES drew a sketch to show the physical therapist how I feel when I get out of bed in the morning. It isn't pretty.
A bone density test showed that I have a 20% bone loss in my right hip. The doc advised taking one of the drugs usually given for bone loss. I balked after reading about them. Appears to me they may cause as many problems as they solve? Mom took Fosamax for years and fell and broke her hip anyway. I hear stories about the onset of jaw problems for some women who've taken these drugs. Do I need to risk that when my neck and face muscles are already tights as ticks?
Instead, I've added weekly visits to the wonderful Chinese acupuncturist I've seen on and off for twenty some years. He talks about increasing my energy and blood circulation, gives me herbs for tea and I always leave in a calm sleepy state.
And I walk. Every day. In Rome we walked miles each day and I loved it. One simply feels better after walking. The Fitbit helps here in Houston. My Fitbit counts steps and when I am within reach of 10,000, this little device urges me on. Last week I walked 23.62 miles. That means about 3 miles each day. Has to be strengthening and giving my hips a workout.
Signed up for Bones For Life classes at West U Senior Center. A senior center? Also taking one private Bones For Life class a week. I do a lot of 'pum-pums' every day - those soft bounces on the heels to the tune of pum-pum. Supposed to strengthen bones. The movements are small and subtle and yet I can feel realignment and ease after the class.
So, I counted all the appointments I've had these first six weeks of 2014. Total is 32. Hard to imagine that my muscles are still tight, that my neck is still sore, that my right hip is often achy. I am 71 and 1/2 years old and my body has my full attention.
Also have the sense that some of this is related to my state of mind, so I am reading "Coming To Age, The Croning Years and Late-Life Transformation," Jane R. Pretat, Jungian analyst. I do feel in the midst of a momentous life transition and I'll write more about this strange new place in which I find myself.
Thus begins the new year. Time too, to trim the ginger and cut back the banana trees.

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