RIDING IT OUT – Marilyn Armstrong

For almost two years, I’ve barely used the chair lift. I was glad it was there and it was useful for hauling groceries and suitcases upstairs and that was good for both of us. But lately, I’ve started using it. I realized there was absolutely nothing to be gained by dragging myself up two staircases, gasping, wheezing, with heart pounding.

Although I can —  and do — get up and down the stairs, it’s slow and getting slower. It’s more than a bit nerve-wracking too. It takes me a while to take that first downward step (up is easier) and I’m always sure I’m going to fall. I have fallen a lot over the years, including when I was younger. I can’t seem to find my balance going down.

One step at a time and carrying packages, stairs are impossible and dangerous. Riding up and down the stairs takes the fear and pain out of the process of getting in and out of the house. I’m okay walking on the sidewalk and the floors, but the stairs put such a strain on my lower spine and hips, I went from feeling okay to feeling ready to collapse.

It was time to actually use the chair lift.

Not only is it a way to get upstairs not on my feet, but it ‘s also possible to get someone in a wheelchair into the house and up to our living level. Before that, we’ve had to tell anyone with disabilities that our house was unready for them.

I reached the end of assuming that I’m going to get better and the stairs won’t be as difficult. Asthma is worse, probably because it’s untreated and my spine is worse, especially at the S1 juncture which was never fused — unlike the three discs above it. The pressure on the spinal cord is serious and unlikely to improve. There’s no exercise that will improve it.

It’s my final nod to the realities of my life, the “giving in” to the pain as something that won’t get better. The new drugs I’m taking help quite a bit — as long as I walk on relatively flat ground. I can climb a little bit if I am very careful. I can cook and clean in the house and if the ground is not rough, I’m mobile. To a point.

When I’m tired, I have to take it seriously. I need to stop and rest. When I do that, I don’t fall apart and I stay reasonably well. No amount of goodwill, determination, or optimism will change the condition of my spine. I think not hauling myself up and downstairs will probably marginally improve my mobility.

I cannot begin to tell you how much this isn’t what I envisioned for my life as a senior. I was planning to be a dashing senior. Like in the movies. Gray and wise, but ready to do it all.

Sometimes giving in is the right thing to do. I wanted to force myself to be that snazzy senior I imagined. Overall, I think it’s better if I stay alive and able to move!

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Opinionated writer with hopes for a better future for all of us!

18 thoughts on “RIDING IT OUT – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. You ARE gray and wise — a measure of wisdom is the decision not to do things of which you are no longer capable! I can’t tell you how much your stair lift played into my decision not to move — one of the major motivations for a move has been the stairs, but if I stay here and can’t manage the stairs I can always put in a stair lift!

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  2. I can only completely agree. I didn’t realise that age is combined such Problems. Mr. Swiss has them as well more than I do and his mobility has also suffered as well as getting confused now and again. Luckily we live in an apartment on the ground floor. i also have more problems going down as up.

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    1. I was trying SO hard to “get better” and one day I realized — I’m not getting better and all I’m doing is making my life MORE difficult. Sometimes, recognizing what can’t be fixed IS the answer. I just didn’t want that to be the answer.

      Down is definitely more frightening.

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      1. You are not alone Marilyn. I am with you all the way. I discovered that having something to do helps. Even if it is peeling potatoes or making the bed. You have a feeling of Triumph, success afterwards. Yes, we can do it, just don’t look down

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  3. Definitely the right decision, far better you do what you can and still be able to do things, than overreach and be housebound. And take advantage of going slow to appreciate what’s around…… Those who dash often miss out!

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    1. The limitations out here in the boonies are enhanced. Without transportation and regular help with keeping things from falling apart, it gets hard to manage. But as they say in sports, “it is what it is!”

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  4. I so hear you about the dashing and snazzy senior. That was to be me, also! I laugh and/or grit my teeth when people ask ‘what’s your 5-year plan?’ This was not my plan.

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  5. all those devices are there to be used. Don’t feel bad about it, please. It’s so much better to use every help you can than suffer unnecessarily. It’s part of acquired wisdom to leave pride to the side – you are a hero to have survived up to now 🙂

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  6. There are many ways to be ‘snazzy’, Marilyn (a word I also use sometimes that my granddaughters get a kick out of:) You’re dashing and snazzy through your words and photography, and I admire you for that.

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  7. that’s the promise of any technology – whether it is a phone, a driverless car, or a chairlift – to make our lives better. And it seems that your chair lift is fulfilling that promise.

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  8. My sister in law who is 76 was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia a few months ago. This dementia takes away her ability to remember how to sit, stand, hold things, walk. No cure, just a steady decline. My Brother in law said this is not how he saw them sailing off into their golden years. Accepting what is thrown at us as we age is not easy, not welcome, and not always what we planned- and terrifying. A bitter pill to swallow. I agree that taking your chair life may help a bit instead of taking those stairs- which look mighty steep from the photo.

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