WHAT’S A DAY WITHOUT A CHALLENGE? – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP #63 – CHALLENGE


Lately, every day is challenging. Life is a challenge.

Yesterday’s challenge was getting everything that needed doing, done. My son doesn’t have a lot of time off from work. It was the first of the month, which meant I had some money in the account. The freezer was heading towards empty and Garry is not allowed to haul groceries. This is not one of the things he sees as a challenge, so he had no problems with me taking care of it.

Testing, testing …

I want to make it clear that he is entirely capable of doing anything he wants to do, albeit rather more slowly than in earlier years. The hardest parts of my experience with Garry’s surgery is preventing him from exercising or doing anything strenuous. And NOT blowing his nose.

He is an exercise junkie. Since basic training in the Marine Corps, he needs that exercise and not doing it makes him feel weird and uncomfortable. I get that.

Right now, he can’t. No heavy living, no heavy hauling. He has one month — four weeks — when he can’t lift, haul — or blow his nose. He forgets about the nose blowing, so every time he does it (instinct wins over doctor’s notes), he feels as if his head will explode. That’s a hard-to-ignore reminder. Exercise is a different problem.

Garry digging out

We had it out the other night and I finally had to say: “This is your body, your ears. Your hearing. You’ve waited a lifetime for this miracle. Are you going to blow it to by secretly doing push-ups?” For me, this is a no-brainer. Obviously, we are in different head spaces on this.

He thinks I’m rejecting him. His male translation of my comments is that I don’t care what happens to him, but the truth is 180 degrees in the other direction. The idea of actually being able to have a conversation I don’t need to shout from three-inches away from his left ear makes my heart race.

That being said, I can’t follow him constantly reminding him of what he needs to do or more to the point, not do. Sort of like the ancient court jester and the king. I probably need different clothing and a bladder.

Garry reads the doctor’s notes every morning when he gets up, to remind himself of the instructions. I love him madly and want this to work for him, but he has to want it at least as much as I do. In the end, it’s not my body, not my issue.

It’s a bigger challenge for him than it would be for me. But for heaven’s sake — IT’S JUST FOUR WEEKS. His body will not disintegrate from lack of exercise after one month of skipping morning exercises. He can go back to two hundred push-ups before August is over. Yes, he really does 200 push-ups every morning along with other exercises.

That doesn’t seem like a huge price to pay for the privilege of hearing for the first time in his life. He can walk, do light work around the house — you know, the stuff I usually do — and watch as many baseball games as he can fit in a given day. And maybe fit in a movie or three. He could also take the camera and take a few hundred pictures. We could stroll in the park.

A challenge, I have concluded, is different for each of us. My biggest challenge is getting out of bed, then actually walking. The rest of my day is easier, but I have to get past that challenge.

Garry is far more complicated.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. Retired! Yay!

18 thoughts on “WHAT’S A DAY WITHOUT A CHALLENGE? – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. Bodies and selves and identities are hugely intertwined, so I can understand his view, even though I would be the ‘bossy’ spouse if I were in your position. I am sure that he doesn’t want to lose the fitness and the feeling of his body that has been familiar to him for decades, especially while weird stuff is going on in his head and elsewhere physically due to the surgery.

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      1. While I agree with you, I also understand Garry’s determination to maintain the health of the parts of him that are not his ears. So maybe not 200 push-ups but say 10-20 just to maintain. You have to also respect his feelings. Much of healing has to do with attitude and he seems to have a healthy one. I watched my heart doctor, today, cringe when I announced to him that I was giving up or reducing the meds he had prescribed over 11 years ago. I then informed him of the supplements I had begun months ago to address naturally the issues at hand. In some ways Garry and I are alike, but he does suffer from one fault. If he has never experienced complete hearing, he has no idea what that’s like, so he concentrates on those things he knows well. The trick is getting him to realize that he has a chance to add a feature to his life.., one which he will greatly appreciate in the long run. Hopefully, he won’t ruin it by being stubborn and pig-headed?

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    1. Donna, I plead guilty to one act of stupidity. Marilyn and the doctors made it abundantly clear to me that I should forego my exercise regimen during surgery rehab. The peril was explained. I understood. I truly want the surgery to go well and have hearing for the first time in my life. No question.

      So, why the one act of stupidity? No intelligent answer or stubborn macho defense. Excercising is habitual to me. It was instilled into me SIXTY years ago as a MARINE CORPS RECRUIT IN BASIC TRAINING. An automatic, body begins before I think. Even when battling lousy winter colds., I do my exercises. I do them during my shave, shower, dress period.

      My brain had been a great umpire for more than a week after surgery. One day–this week–I towelled off and automatically went into modified exercises. I could have stopped but I didn’t. I DID cut myself off as my brain flashed “stop!” signals. That was it. I later related the incident to Marilyn in a mea culpa moment. The rest is history. Stuborn I am. A jerk I am. But I don’t want to jeopardize this once in a lifetime opportunity to hear.

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      1. It sounds like your body did it by habit, and your higher brain had the wit to stop. You’re clearly smart and interested in your health, so I think you’ll help yourself and that it’ll work out well all around.

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  2. In my experience men simply are. More complicated. Yet they say the same about US. And after a month off from exercise? Yep. he can go back to doing those 200 pushups (oh my GAWD..is the man a masochist? or just in a routine? none of my pie, but that seems rather a LOT)…but it will be harder as anyone who has been laid up for any length of time knows. I used to walk a lot of miles in a given day, it was fun and I never counted it as ‘exercise’ per se. Then I had my first hip surgery and found it was difficult to make even one block while walking. After 3 such surgeries, I now don’t walk at all, not for pleasure and like yourself, it’s getting UP and then walking that’s the biggest challenge some days. I hope it all goes a bit more smooth for both of you.

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  3. Take it from me, a typical male. Men are the worst patients. Because we have no patience. We want instant recovery from whatever ails us. Anything longer than instantaneous is unacceptable and a cause to whine, get angry, and take it out on those around us. That’s what we men do.

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  4. I used to dread having a sick husband around. He’s a whiner, a fusser, and if you try to suggest, he rolls over and sulks. I love him, so I let him live.

    Garry, you know better. That inner studmuffin is not suddenly going to disappear if you miss a few weeks of daily pushups. Really.
    LISTEN to your wife. She loves you, which is why she gets upset.

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