Gettin’ Old Ain’t Fer Sissies

Today, for the first time in seventeen months, I am able to walk without significant lumbar pain. A few months of prayer and about thirty minutes on the physician's table yesterday getting Epidural Steroid Injections on both the port and starboard side of L5-L6 lumbar vertebrae appears to have made a near miraculous difference. So today I'm giving thanks to all parties involved and glory to the Great Physician. Sometimes the greatest miracles of answered prayer are the humility to submit and the determination to persist.

Throughout most of the early months of this year, there were days that I could not stand or stoop, bend or bow, lurch or lift, twist or turn, sit or lie down, without moving the pain level toward one of those really frowny faces. It has been the first time in my life to experience chronic pain to that degree and I will admit right readily that it did interfere with my sunny disposition, motivation for physical activity, and general outlook and attitude.

I haven't written about it, not because I don't love sympathy, empathy, and righteous pity. I guess it's at least partly because I figure I burned through any reasonable allotments for whining and complaining at least thirty years ago. Even though I only own one pair of stitched Western boots and they still look mighty new after a dozen years, I figured I should at least try to cowboy up for once in my life. Some days I went ahead and did a decent day's work no matter how bad it hurt. Some days I just sat my sorry self in the recliner and watched hour after hour of murder mysteries, Untold Stories of the ER, and binged on Better Call Saul.

One thing that kept me from just living in the hot tub was the emphatic voices imprinted in my mind, "If we ever quit doing just because it hurts, we'll soon not be able to do at all." The source of those voices was my aging parents, both of whom endured degenerative arthritis for at least the last three decades of their lives. Dad would occasionally limp a step or two and twist in just a certain way to get his hip "reset." 

Mom would sometimes nearly pass out from the stabbing pain in her hip and grab for the nearest counter edge or chair back to keep from falling down. She finally got a hip replacement when she was in her upper eighties and doubled down on the rehab exercises. Her doctor was amazed at the pace and degree with which Mom recovered. Absent the chronic pain, she also got a bit of a personality transplant. Constant severe pain tends to make most anyone a bit irritable. At times it made her downright mean. If she'd had the hip replacement done fifteen years earlier, my kids would have had very different memories of her. 

I'm trying to emulate both parents' examples of perseverance and avoid the downgrade on perceived pleasantness to loved ones. I think I managed to mostly limit my alteration to morose with an occasional touch of grumpy and at least two lumps of self-pity with each cup of morning coffee. 

I'm sure hoping and praying this latest intervention is as dramatic as it seems the morning after and lasts for a while. At least long enough for Medicare to approve the next iteration of it. 

Admittedly, my senior self-concept has taken a bit of a hit. I'd assumed for the last twenty years or so that I'd be like my dad and still be doing construction work and cutting my own firewood when I'm ninety. Now, I'm hoping to still be able to walk when I'm seventy. Dad did finally admit, "Getting old is not too bad; getting old and feeble is a different story." Thing is, when he made that concession, he was twenty-five years older than I am now! 

Accepting our mortality has several stages, I reckon. Living with its increasing degrees of manifestation is going to take greater grace and more persistent prayer than what I've been managing. All assistance in that regard will be genuinely appreciated. 

H. Arnett

About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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