On Aging with a Disability

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Aging is a normal part of everyone’s life. For as long as we’re on this earth, we’re going to age. But when your body already starts at a weaker point than everyone else’s, aging can not only come even faster, it can also be even more challenging.

When I turned 30, things really started to tank (I’ve talked to my non-disabled friends and they share in that feeling about their own bodies too). I started having pains I never used to have. My metabolism came to what felt like a complete stop so I gained a bunch of weight which made it even harder for me to get around and get up.

Here I am now at 35 and I can’t imagine what another 30 years of this could potentially be like. I always used to say I was lucky with my form of MD because I only had pain after I fell. But all the years of twisting to get out of the car, off the couch, out of my chair at work, has finally caught up with me and I have pain a lot more frequently. I was doing really well with water aerobics and I was lifting weights consistently to try and build up some form of arm strength in the hopes it would help me lift myself up, but then I managed to hurt myself doing that and things really haven’t gone back to normal (my normal anyway) since. I’ve had 3 separate instances in a few week period where I pulled something or had pain to the point I had to just stay in bed with a heating pad. Needless to say, it’s very frustrating and very disheartening. If I have to work out in the pool to avoid my ever-increasing sciatic pain, but then I hurt myself doing that and can’t seem to recover, then what am I left with?

I know I need to stop pushing myself on some things and let people help me (i.e. carrying heavy bags or groceries) because I know that’s probably taking its toll on my body too. I’m trying to find better ways to get up and down that don’t involve twisting but there’s really not much room for flexibility there. I have to get out of my car, I have to get out of my chair at work, I have to get off of couches and chairs. So when I can’t avoid doing those things but those are the very things that are causing me pain, what do I do?

My dad suggested a pain management specialist and that may not be a bad idea. Even physical therapy might be good or trying to get a massage, which I’ve never done. I don’t like admitting that I have to take it easier on my body now that I’m getting older and I don’t like having to deal with being in more and more pain. I try so hard to get out there and live my life, but it can be really discouraging when your body just doesn’t want to go along with that, even when you try to do things that are supposed to help it.

I know a lot of people that are super excited about getting older and retiring and all of that but when I look at people in their later years, I’m going to be totally honest that it scares the shit out of me. If I’m already having a hard time physically now, what kind of shape am I going to be in when I get to be that age? Somehow I’ve made due for this long and I think I’m going to have to let go of some of ongoing stubbornness and general refusal to get any kind of outside help to keep going but let me tell ya, aging is definitely not cheesecake and mumus like The Golden Girls promised it would be. Spoken like a true Dorothy…


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