Arthritis and Ben Gay

One of the interesting things that I didn’t consider when I was thinking about retirement was health.  I guess I pictured myself being totally healthy, without problems and go merrily on my way.

Actually, I am pretty healthy.  I just had my physical, and the doctor pronounced me very healthy – my blood work came back great, and I had lost some weight (amazingly – it’s been a struggle all my life).  In addition, I try to go to the gym two or three days a week, work with a trainer a couple times a month, and eat as healthy as I can for the most part.

What isn’t healthy is the state of my knees.  Both knees have severe arthritis in them, and I limp around with a lot of pain in my right knee because the knee cap is right down on top of the rest of the knee – no padding left!  I know it will have to be replaced, but I’m trying to do whatever I need to do to hold off until after I retire.

There are six months to go, and there is a lot of work that needs to be done now that we are about to enter the new year.  So, I would like to wait and not take a month or more for surgery and recovery.  I’ll have plenty of time for that starting July of 2017!

In the meantime, I have made good friends with what they call an “ortho sleeve” which slides over my knee and hugs it without being too tight.  It doesn’t breathe much either, so that creates a little heat for the knee which is supposed to help.

Another good friend is Ben Gay or the generic brand of it.  I think I have used at least a tube a month so far, but it helps at night when I give my leg a breather from the sleeve.  Keeping active has helped, and my orthopedic doctor says I’m doing all the right things to hold everything together.  I also have been icing and elevating a lot and alternating with heat – it seems to help.

Perhaps I’m most grateful for my perseverance and high threshold of pain.  People worry about me, especially when they see me holding onto things to go down or up stairs (the stairs are the worst!).  But I’m really doing all right except for the obvious arthritis!  Eventually both knees will have to have surgery, but for now, I’m hanging on.

On top of everything, I had a audiology exam after which the audiologist told me I have hearing loss in both ears.  He immediately wanted me to return with my husband so I could be fitted for hearing aids.  After talking with my husband about it, we decided that I’m not severe and will wait – all that comes with the understanding that he will tell me if I begin to be a pain in the neck by asking, “What?” too many times.

Retiring is a gift that I have looked forward to for many years, but along with the gift come challenges that I will have to face.  Isn’t that what life is all about, anyway?  I mean, the things that are thrown at us throughout our lives can throw us for a loop and drastically change our lives, anyway.  So, I guess I see these physical challenges as just one more thing to deal with and then move on.  We adapt.  We cope.  We thrive.  We live into “our new normal,” as the saying goes.

It really doesn’t accomplish anything to gripe and complain.  But hanging in there and finding the good in situations as well as having a sense of humor sets a much better example for those around us.  No one likes to hear people complain all the time because they have their own issues.

So, I’m grateful for Ben Gay, orth-sleeves, ice packs, heating pads, recliners, a trainer who understands and pushes me, a husband who is supportive, and two congregations who care about me and who encourage me.  I’m also grateful for my dad who has two bad knees and is willing to commiserate with me on Sundays when we Skype – he totally knows what I’m going through (and his is worse than mine!).

In Hebrews 12:1, Paul writes:  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.”  He is talking about the race of faith, of course, but body-mind-spirit are all intertwined, and even though I can’t run, I can limp with perseverance as I follow the path of my life, knowing that I’m on the journey of God’s love and surrounded by many people who are friends.

The wisdom of age is another gift that is so overlooked.  I look forward to becoming even wiser as I get older.  Have a blessed day!


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