Thursday, 8 October 2015

The Loss of Independence

My neighbour dropped by yesterday, on her way back from the doctors. She’s been plagued by an increase in her pain, and sought some cause for it, some relief.

We both live with chronic pain, and have often joked that getting old sucks. But here’s the thing, she’s more than twenty years older than I am, and much better off...physically speaking.

We live a few blocks from the downtown area, and she walks it frequently. I’m lucky some days if I can make it to my car, let alone make my way through a store. Yeah, growing old sucks, but so does living with a chronic illness.

Her doctor suggested she might get some services, to help her out. All she has at this time is some housekeeping, for vacuuming more than anything else. I can sympathize, that’s a chore that is hard on the back. It takes me a whole day to get even my small place done. Picking things up, moving things around, push, pull, push, pull.

We talked about the services that might be available to us. At my last visit to the MS Clinic, the physio and occupational therapist gave me some options to pursue. Of course, I’ve done nothing.

We get caught up in an emotional push-pull. On the one hand, we resent how age and disease interfere with, not just the enjoyment of life, but the ability to fully embrace life. We fight to hold on to our independence, but at what cost?

At least we were able to laugh at our folly. If we took advantage of the assistance that’s available, we’d have the strength and energy to do the things we want to do. So giving in and accepting help is not giving up, giving in.

Why is it that we look at the loss of any facet of our so called independence, as failure? Think what I might be able to do if I didn’t spend days trying to clean, alternating some chore with pain pills and a rest on the heating pad.

And, if I signed up for Meals on Wheels, and put those dinners in the freezer, I could have a decent meal when I didn’t have the energy to cook, or was in too much pain to stand at the counter to prepare one.

It’s true what they say; we do get stubborn, set in our ways as we age. I fully intend to get housekeeping help, but, wanted to get my closets cleaned out first. Sounded stupid when I said it to myself, more so as I write it. I started cleaning closets on Labor Day, so a month ago.

I will admit I have a car load of stuff to go to the thrift store, have sent bags out in the garbage, and have managed to use up a great deal of my precious hoarded craft supplies. It’s not been wasted time, two of my closets are neat and tidy, I have a number of completed paintings to my credit, and a number of gifts made.

It’s baby steps, a back to the beginning, so to speak. I’m almost ready to make that call, and know when I make that first connection; it won’t be so hard to make the next.

Just think what I might accomplish with all that gained time and energy.

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