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Aging Gracefully For Other People, Not yourself (Or Thinking About (“A Place For Mom”) ut

 

With the Baby Boomers coming into the picture, there are more of us who are dealing with the problems of aging.  One of them occurs when others tell those who are aging what they should do and how they should be.  This makes those among us who are aging feel that we are no longer in charge of our own destinies and that it is all downhill the rest of our lives.  Thus we tend not to maintain our intellect, our bodies, and our skills.

Another problem is we seem to not be able to know our own minds, understand our own medical problems, and what we are capable or not capable of doing.  Recently I began treatment for sleep apnea.  I realized from what the doctors said and what I have read and experienced that it was serious enough that it was occasionally interfering with my consciousness and this led to me not driving for a while until my sleep apnea improved with the use of a CPAP machine.

How this problem with sleep apnea was interpreted by some of my family was wrong and I got criticized for saying anything to the doctor (while it really was the truth).  I wound up losing my right to drive until it cleared up.  P.S. I had wanted my family (just before this happened) to drive me to get immediate medical care for asthma on one of these occasions that I experienced this while driving.

 

Secondly, there were no restrictions on my driving before this happened; but after, my family wants to place restrictions on my driving which would include having someone with me and limiting my driving to a certain local area.  While I am limiting my driving on my own to local communities, doctor’s appointments, and church, having certain someone’s with me inspecting my driving isn’t going to help matters.  I want my mind on the wheel and not on those kinds of distractions.

I have physical disabilities, but over time I have improved in terms of what I can and can not do.  Aren’t I supposed to get worse or might that really happen because I am supposed to give up and totally decline in terms of what I am able to do?  I have increased the amount of housekeeping and shopping I do.  I babysit grandchildren while my husband watches TV.  Keeps me busy.  I post on my website each week and balance my checkbook and pay my bills each month.  I have traveled sometimes on my own.

Question is how do those younger in my family or other younger acquaintances perceive me?  Is it for their own convenience or is it from their misguided perceptions of aging?  Beware, is aging caused by time or by what other people expect or by just giving up?

I continually increase my current knowledge in many areas (usually by reading).  I do scan the internet, I watch the news, I follow fashion magazines and TV programs, and I follow the interior decorating channels and magazines as well as religious and spiritual issues in print, on TV, and the internet.  I even talk to myself (sometimes I don’t have an appropriate audience) and my friends formulating ideas for presentations I would like to give on various subjects.  Oh, and my family worries if I say anything on the internet or in my blog I might embarrass myself (what about them?).  P.S. they don’t read my blog and if they did it probably it would probably be to edit it, not read it.  I have been writing this blog for five years.

A Visitor From The Past

I have been out sick for a week as I was visited by an old visitor from the past that I had thought I had outgrown. ASTHMA. Gasping for breath is scary; but even more frightening is hearing mysterious sounds as you lay in bed that nobody else can hear. As a psychologist, I know about hearing voices and these would even wake me up in the middle of the night.  Once, I got admitted, I think the hospital staff must have thought I was crazy.  This was a strange illness because I got very sick before I sought treatment.  I did not run a temperature.  I just got out of breath.  Even my oxygen percentages were good.  My heart rate was normal.  I had just run out of steam.  However, I was very relieved when they hooked me up with oxygen; pumped me up with steroids, and admitted me from the Emergency Room.   Missed church that morning and didn’t get to celebrate Mother’s Day or should I say Grandmother’s Day.

Once, I got admitted, I think the hospital staff must have thought I was crazy.  This was a strange illness because I got very sick before I sought treatment.  I did not run a temperature.  I just got out of breath.  Even my oxygen percentages were good.  My heart rate was normal.  I had just run out of steam.  However, I was very relieved when they hooked me up with oxygen; pumped me up with steroids, and admitted me from the Emergency Room.   Missed church that morning and didn’t get to celebrate Mother’s Day or should I say Grandmother’s Day.

I am now on all sorts of asthma drugs.  I am feeling better.  I am home and laying around.  Just going to the doctor wore me out and I can’t talk too much without getting breathless.  However, I have been having some feelings of Deja Vue as I remember feeling this way as a child desperate for air and also coughing my guts up.  Must have really scared my parents.  This was a common thing for me in the winter as I grew up.

I was told I would grow out of it and I thought I did but on a rare occasion I would have that familiar gasping for breath and would have to leave where I was and do something to catch my breath.  I usually was apologetic and would leave wherever I was so as to not cause others any concern about me in order to calm down and get over the spell of being out of breath.

Scarier even yet is recently I have begun to have strong allergy reactions to air bound particles.  Fortunately, I recognised what was going on and got myself out of the situation either under my own power or with the help of friends.  I, fortunately, had begun carrying a rescue inhaler.

Also, asthma causes damage that doesn’t go away and can come back to haunt you later.   I know that wood smoke (yes, fireplaces) is difficult for me to breath; but until we started to worry about second-hand smoke, people just thought I was a party pooper if I reacted to things like cigarette smoke and wood smoke.  I could also detect strong chemicals in the air just by the way they made me feel.

I had years of bronchitis but I didn’t think of it as asthma related.  I would continue to go to go to work and would hope that I could control my cough when I had to talk to patients.  I knew that it was probably not catching and would eventually go away on its own although that might take a long time.  Once the air got cold, I had to throw a scarf around my mouth or have a coughing fit.  It didn’t help that I was a mouth breather either.

I didn’t know that I had a bunch of unhappy bronchioles swollen that wouldn’t let my air get out so I could breathe back in.  It was these guys that were making the wheezing noises I could hear.  Chest x rays didn’t show anything so that wasn’t a path to treatment either.

If you feel sick, you are sick.  Keeping going until you find effective treatment.  Don’t apologize for something you can’t help doing.  Yes, it is going to make some trouble for other people and you might be the center of attention for awhile  It is your turn to seek and receive help.  Don’t die trying to cover it up and not inconveniencing people.

P.S., I now have a preliminary diagnosis, pulmonary hypertension which was given after I had an echocardiogram of my heart.  For your information, previous to that I passed certain breathing tests with flying colors.  My oxygen percentiles were high.  They were consistently in the 90’s.  I passed a breathing test.  This was the second time I had done so.  My lung x-rays were clear ( I had two recent ones).  Therefore, I was not put on oxygen when I went home although it was very helpful while I was in the hospital.

Fortunately, my nurse practitioner had another idea about what was wrong.  She said I might be overworking my heart to keep my oxygen percentiles high.  This is what appears to be happening and it didn’t show up until I had the echocardiogram of my heart.  Curious enough I have had previous echocardiograms where it didn’t show up.  I am waiting on my heart doctor to review the findings and to confirm the diagnosis although that may take further tests.

So what is my conclusion?  It is that sometimes when you think you are sick, you are really sick and don’t stop seeking help!  Look at my case.