I was born old, very, very old. It quickly ages a person when they are unable to draw oxygen into their body. Asthma...in this era is annoying, but there are many, many medications that minimize the effects it has on your body.
That was NOT the case when I was born. There were two treatments in Western medicine for asthma, oxygen, and pounding. Pounding is NOT the proper name, but the treatment involved someone cupping their hands and then pounding on your back. It was miserable, and frightening to a small child. This treatment helped to thin phlegm that caused asthmatics and those with cystic fibrosis dangerous respiratory symptoms. When this substance is too thick it quickly can lead to dangerous infections.
I also remember being encased in an oxygen tent. That meant that my child small body of two or three was placed in a sort of clear plastic filled with the oxygen that enabled me to breathe. I also remember hearing doctors and nurses around me whispering, "She will not live long, she's too highly allergic." I was asthmatic, NOT DEAF!
Why do I discuss this experience? It has had a profound impact on my life as I pass from my middle aged life into my older life. My friend's health is now catching up to me. I have struggled with health challenge each and every day of my life. Big things, like breast cancer, to small things, like asthma (at least it's much smaller now than it was when I was a child).
As each year comes and goes I rejoice that I am still here! I hear so many people saying, "Old age is not for sissies!" In my life, NO AGE WAS FOR SISSIES. The things that surprise others in this part of their lives, I have been coping with for ALL OF MY LIFE. That does not make me superior to others, I do still whine and complain extremely well. It DOES grant me a different perspective.
An example is this last year. I had to have all my teeth pulled, and get dentures. Then I had complications causing me to wait an additional year before I could use my lower dentures. In addition I finally reached the point where it is necessary for me to wear glasses all the time.
At first, as I traveled through this unfamiliar terrain, I was extremely good at complaining about "old age." Then I began to regain my perspective. I have many friends who had to get dentures at a far younger age. I have many friends, who have worn glasses since childhood.
I am entering a brand new decade of life on this birthday. At first I found that a frightening idea...I mean, I'm definitely not young OR middle-aged anymore. Then I remembered my perspective, "I'm still here! I'm still able to learn new things, meet new people, travel to new places, reach new goals, and live life as fully as I possibly can!"
Oh there will be challenges that will flatten me from time to time. The important thing for me to remember is that it's ok to be knocked flat. What is NOT ok, is to stay flat, to give up, give out, or give in!
One of my beloved Grandma's who lived to the ripe old age of 84 used to say that she would get up and get dressed in the morning. Next she would get the newspaper from her front porch. She would eat, and open the page to the obituaries. If she didn't find her obituary in the paper, she would proceed to plan for her day. I love the good humor of her perspective. I knew that she was joking. She did NOT expect to find her obituary in the paper while she was eating her cream of wheat. Nonetheless, even for me as a child I understood her way of coping with the idea of death within life.
Today, I am ALIVE! I hope, and plan to fill my day with rejoicing, celebration, in the little things, like writing a blog post, playing the piano, even in cleansing my dishes (that last one may be too big of a stretch to find enjoyment). I hope to sing, dance, sing and dance, and then work on laundry. I enjoy the process of taking dirty clothing, and washing, drying, and then folding, creating order where chaos existed.
Today, however, I wish to remember that as Abraham Lincoln said, "It's not about doing what you love, it's about loving what you're doing." That means that when I do the things I dislike, or loathe (dishes are in that last category) I can find ways to make the job bearable. Remember as Mary Poppins said in the Disney movie, "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, in a most delightful way!"