I’m 45 years old and after being right-handed all my life, I think I’m going to start training myself to be left-handed. After a long session of computer work last night, I can’t even squeeze the shampoo bottle. So I’ve added hand and wrist tendonitis to my elbow and shoulder tendonitis on my right side. Lovely.
A couple weeks ago, I got my daughter out to the Alberta Avenue badminton drop-in. It only took a few swings to realize I was going to pay for it if I played. So I played badminton left handed instead. I wasn’t quite as good as I am right handed, but I wasn’t too bad, either. I don’t know if that speaks to my poor sporting skills or my good ambidextrous skills.
I have been going to physiotherapy. My doctor recommended it after I spent an hour with him listing all my hurts from head to toe. Most of the hurts have been ongoing for years. I just don’t go to the doctor very often. Now it seems like every part of my body is hurting and falling apart. I told my doctor if I hurt this much now and everything I do seems to create a new injury, then I really don’t want to live another 45 years.
I know I’m not the only one with a failing middle-aged body. Almost everyone I talk to has their own litany of aches and pains. A lot of it is just aging, but how well we age is largely impacted by how well we have taken care of our bodies. I worry my children will have neck and hand (thumb) issues early in their life with their obsessive phone usage. But most people don’t take things seriously until there is a painful issue.
My goal this summer was to put me first. Take care of myself, exercise, lose weight. It didn’t really happen. Work still overtook my life. I did take a new class: PiYo. Amazingly, it didn’t aggravate my back condition for which I see the chiropractor regularly. However, it worsened my ankle, hip, shoulder, and elbow pain. There seems to be no winning.
My vision was to start lifting weights regularly in the fall to be strong and in shape. Unlike many of my friends who I hear bemoan every minute of exercise, I actually love doing it. I enjoy being active and strong. My crazy irregular schedule works against having a regular exercise program and when I do manage to fit it in, it often just results in pain, injury, and hopeless frustration.
Time isn’t the only barrier to taking care of oneself; so is money. I have no health benefits. We have free medical care in Canada, but preventive and proactive care is not free. I had a filling and my teeth cleaned three years ago. That was almost $800. Each chiropractor visit costs $60. Massage is $100 for a session. At least my low income qualifies me for some additional benefits.
All those health services are quite helpful, but in the end it does mostly come down to me watching my posture, working as ergonomically as possible, and doing the exercises various health care providers have given me.
When you experience pain or health issues, you quickly realize that nothing is as important as your health. Without your physical and mental health, life is miserable. So I plug along. I now budget to spend money on taking care of myself. I no longer overdo the volunteer commitments. But when it comes to work, it’s hard to cut back when you need money to live and take care of yourself.
Balance. Priorities. Time management. Self-care. I’m still working on it.
Featured Image: IMG 2: Writer Karen Mykietka is doing what she can now to take care of herself. | Rebecca Lippiatt