February 10, 2016
Life really is beginning to return to normal for me since I had my gallbladder surgery. Before I was diagnosed correctly, I got to enjoy four to five years of absolutely horrible health.
I’m not really a complainer. I’ve had very bad arthritis for nearly 20 years now, and for the most part, I just ignore the pain. That’s not to say I don’t feel it. That’s to say I feel it and think, well, that’s just how it is for me. It is, after all, only pain. I have been to an orthopedic specialist who says I’m not a candidate for knee replacement because of where the arthritis is. And while I could have my ankles fused, I don’t want to. I still have some range of motion in them, and fusing them would make life challenging in whole new ways. So I take pain medication when I need it, but I don’t let the pain or the prospect of more pain stop me from doing what I really want to do. And since all the rest of my arthritis would still ache (knees, hips and lower back), I don’t see the point in fusing my ankles.
But this gallbladder situation, that was a whole other matter. I was suffering from what I’ll politely call unpredictable incontinence. That was one of two symptoms of gallbladder disease that I endured for years before I actually had a gallbladder attack. The other was that eating never felt good. Even though I cut down my portions and ate only about half of what I had been eating before this all set in, my stomach didn’t feel good afterward. Rare were the times when I ate a meal and enjoyed it. The latter symptom made me never want to go out to eat, and the former made me never want to go out, period. I was in fact very close to declaring myself house bound.
Traveling was a nightmare for me these last few years, as I never knew if I was going to need a bathroom. My warning time was often as little as ten seconds—not a problem if you can run, but definitely a problem if you walk with a cane. And there were a few memorable occasions when I was given no warning at all.
But things are better now, and it’s like I’ve been set free from a prison. I can enjoy a meal and not suffer for hours after it. I’m regular, though I do understand that being the age I am there will be times I won’t be. But it’s not an looming, unpredictable horror any longer. I hope soon, I won’t even worry about it at all. Habits do, after all, take time to break.
I feel so good, that this weekend coming up I am going to renew my swim membership for the first time in several years. I’m going for the “fitness” package, which will allow me the use of exercise rooms at our local facility, as well as the pools. I can walk on a treadmill (if it’s not going too fast) and I can use an exercise bicycle. There are also a few weight machines I can use, as well, to increase my upper body strength. I won’t go every day, but I think even if I manage three times a week, I’ll be better off for it.
Life hands us all crap from time to time (sorry for the bad pun). That is the bald truth, and as far as I can see, when it does, you have two choices. You can weep and wail and carry on, because this has happened to you; or you can sit back and figure out your best options, and handle it accordingly. I try not to do too much weeping or wailing. But I’m human and there are days when the arthritis pain is really bad. Sometimes a good cry is exactly what’s needed.
I do that when no one else is home. Tears are a tool for relieving stress, not a ploy for sympathy.
I also try to look on everything I’ve experienced in life—especially those things we tend to think of as bad—as a gift. The best gifts are the ones you share, aren’t they? Some folks may not care to know what I go through on such a personal level, but there might be someone out there who will read this essay today who will sigh with relief, just knowing they’re not the only one—they’re not alone.
What are we on this earth for, I ask you, if not to do what we can, share what we can, to help one another? That’s been my tenet for the last many years. It allows me to live the best life I can live, with an attitude of gratitude.
So I am grateful for all I’ve experienced, and especially for the opportunity to share these words with you.