Managing the dwindles
I’ve been plagued with health problems that have kept me at about half-speed for three months. I was hospitalized twice and received conflicting directions and different medications from physicians in the same practice. There’s no clear treatment plan for me that I know of. I asked to be, but wasn’t involved in developing one.
It’s time to get to the bottom of this dilemma before I drift further down the tube into the dwindles. I’m arranging for a referred to the Mayo Clinic.
The dwindles are a natural consequence of aging. Muscular strength, flexibility and coordination diminish. Physical, intellectual, social, psychological and emotional vigor taper off. Reflexes decline and reaction times increase. Those with the dwindles are at risk of accidents and falls.
The dwindles are endemic in retirement centers like the one I live in. The environment is a natural place for them to thrive. Transportation to necessary appointments can be easily arranged; many residents stop driving either when they move in or shortly thereafter. Supposedly to protect residents from falling, many are encouraged to use walkers for stability. They and their walkers are often poorly matched for size and actually encourage poor posture. Exercise programs are mostly low impact and don’t help maintain bone strength. It’s not easy to get adequate walking, the best exercise. Passive entertainment is the norm.
Napping is easy and convenient. A fellow resident who can barely navigate complained about spending most of his days napping. When asked why, he said he would get up if there was a reason to do so.
In other words, the dwindles can be forestalled when spiritual, intellectual, psychological and physical stimuli are actively present and balanced. And they’re more likely to occur and progress when the stimuli aren’t there.
My nagging health problems began with two new hernias, occurring a number of months after inguinal hernia surgery a year ago. I’ve developed a sizable mass in my belly. I’ve developed swelling that gradually increased in my legs until it reached my groin and belly. I also developed a racing heart with ordinary walking. Sometimes when I walk on straightaways I get tired or short of breath and stop to rest.
I’ve gained twenty pounds of water weight. Dressing and undressing is more difficult. My bowels and urinary systems seem to be working OK but not their old, normal ways. I haven’t been able to exercise to keep my body strong and flexible and maintain endurance.
So far my dwindles include only taking longer and more frequent naps, walking more slowly, and feeling less secure when walking. But I know I’m weaker, less flexible and coordinated than I was a few weeks ago. I’m also more prone to life altering accidents. I want to get my pesky health problems taken care of.
I want to be able to get back to as full a program as possible of working out regularly, playing in my bands, and maintaining an active personal life.
I can hardly wait to go to the Mayo Clinic. Hopefully I’ll receive integrated and coordinated care and be able to participate in developing a plan for maintaining a healthy life style.