The Art of Aging

Get a Head Start

Well, that sounds pretty funny.  Who would want to get a head start on aging?  Me!  

A big plus to marrying a man 10 years older than me, aside from being the man of my dreams for nearly 40 years, is that I get a 10-year warning on everything.  Last month my husband, Gary, had both knees replaced.  He’d put it off for 10 years already.  Every time we went out of town, he’d go get cortisone shots in his knees just to enable him to walk on our trips.  He waited about a year too long.  By the time he scheduled his surgery, he had days that he couldn’t walk.  He went to bed every night with a 10 on the pain chart.

Gary was a cross-country runner in high school and since then he’s been bow-legged and his knees have been working on borrowed time.  For the last 30 years, Gary has gone to the gym 3 days a week for strength training and in the last 5 years, he’s added a small amount of cardio.  He’s very active, he golfs a lot and doesn’t ride in the cart and never sits still.  He’s like a kid that you can’t keep track of because he’s always up to something.

Double knee surgery is nothing to make light of. Gary got the okay for it at the age of 70 because he was in such great physical shape.  He found out he had a narrowing of an artery going into his heart (circulatory system) the week before the surgery.  He’d had rheumatic fever as a child and I guess it’s common, but it was news to him.  It required that his stress test be chemically induced, but he did so well that he was still approved for the surgery. (He’s going to love me sharing this).

I thought I was so smart, getting someone to help with the house, grocery shopping, laundry, and cooking.  I figured I could keep on working and we’d just put him someplace until he could walk again.  Never in a million years could I have foreseen what was going to happen.

Cathy Sykora

Cathy Sykora

Founder, The Health Coach Group

Cathy helps health coaches build and maintain successful businesses that improve the lives of others.

The Surgery

The surgery was over four hours long.  The guys in the operating room took these awful pictures of his knees before they replaced them.  Gary got through the surgery fine and came out with two new knees and a BIG smile.  He was ready for anything (the pain medicine was still making him pretty happy).

He was up and walking the first night.  He was also 1 inch taller and no longer bow-legged.  His knees didn’t hurt, at least anything like before he had them replaced.

The second day, he started to fall apart, or that’s how it seemed. He’d lost 30% of his blood, his lungs weren’t getting oxygen, and they’d taken the catheter out and were trying to chemically get him to urinate so he could go home.  That was awful.

Thank God for his surgeon.  We’ve been going to him since my son broke his collarbone in hockey and the surgeon had been very young then.  He was quite a bit older now, but I can tell that he admires my husband.  We had some condescending nurses and a doctor who was treating Gary like an old man who came in with bad health before the surgery.   I know that Gary’s surgeon had a talk with them, because, after his visit, they were respectful and helpful again.

Gary went into the hospital strong and confident and very positive.  That second day, he was thinking he’d made the biggest mistake of his life and he was going to die.  Because of insurance, they made him leave on the fourth day and he wasn’t ready.  He was on oxygen, lightheaded and losing more blood and they had to put the catheter back in.  Still no pain in the knees, but all his organ were going down the tubes.

I thought I was taking him home to die.  I honestly was ready to call 911 or take him back to the emergency room.  But that time didn’t come.

He also needed a full-time nurse, and his insurance would have covered it, but he wanted me.  So, I’m now the queen of Ted-hose and maneuvering ergonomic medical furniture.  ♥

Home

The next couple weeks were interesting.  Gary had the catheter taken out and put back in.  Had hallucinations that turned out to be caused by a urinary tract infection.  (URINARY SYSTEM)  He was still on oxygen (RESPIRATORY SYSTEM).  BUT, his knees were great. (SKELETAL SYSTEM)

His knees were great because he’d been systematically working on his muscles to support the extra strain of the new knees (MUSCULAR SYSTEM).  He’d eaten well.  Not as good as I eat, he still has candy and brownies and red meat, but he eats whole foods and is conscientious about eating healthy foods.  He had Hodgkins Lymphoma 10 years ago and had radiation therapy.  He’s taken pretty good care of himself since then (LYMPH SYSTEM).  His hormones are checked, and everything’s been fine there, no thyroid or male hormone therapy (ENDOCRINE SYSTEM).

He was anemic from the blood loss, so we were sure he got lots of protein.  He took probiotics to offset the emergency doses of antibiotics (DIGESTIVE SYSTEM).  He was freezing most of the time (CIRCULATORY SYSTEM), but no fever and he only took his TED hose off for a few minutes a day, so he didn’t get any clots.  He just wore gloves when he got too cold.

He’d already sent the visiting physical therapist home, who he said wasn’t working him hard enough.  He needed to get out of the house anyway so he arranged to go to the physical therapist in the morning on the way home from me taking Sykora to school and then the house helper picked him up and brought him back.  He loved the new physical therapist (and still does) because he’s tough on him.

Gary was still feeling like he’d aged a million years in 2 1/2 weeks and was a little depressed going into the surgeon for a follow-up.  He had the catheter bag taped to his leg and refused to take the oxygen with him.  (It had been improving though).  God bless that doctor.  You could tell he was a little fazed when he saw the bag – but looked Gary in the eye and said to him that he came through that surgery great.  If it hadn’t been for those couple of issues with the lungs and urinary tract, it would have been a perfect recovery.

His surgeon looked him in the eye and told him that ALL that was going to get better. (BRAIN)

They had said that he wouldn’t be able to drive for six weeks after the surgery.  Since Gary hadn’t taken any pain medicine, Dr. Burt told him that he could drive.  He just suggested to practice in a parking lot to be sure he had control so he wouldn’t hurt anyone. (SKELETAL, MUSCULAR, NERVOUS SYSTEM).

So, we left the doctors office about 30 years younger and full of optimism.  One week later he is off the catheter and the oxygen. (URINARY, RESPIRATORY SYSTEM).

As I write this, it’s four weeks past the surgery.  Gary is driving, going up and down steps, doing the grocery shopping and back to leading a completely normal life, only he’s taller and isn’t bow-legged and has no pain in his knees.

Why am I telling you all this?  I’m sharing this because this IS the Art of Aging in one of the more extreme forms.  If Gary hadn’t smoked until he was 40, he wouldn’t have had the lung problem.  BUT, if he hadn’t quit smoking, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have had the surgery.  If he hadn’t taken care of his muscles and bones and lymph system, it would have taken a lot longer for his legs to recover and he may have suffered more complications.

The younger we are when we make changes, the better.  We can do things right now to make our lives better.  Some of us get to an age and are pretty happy with everything we did to get us here.  Some of us need to make more changes than others.

It’s not too late for anyone, and if we get our minds pointed in the right direction with optimism and hope and some good old-fashioned self-discipline, we can add years to our lives and life to our years.

What are some things that you can do today, proactively to be sure that if you need to recover from something that stresses your body, that you’ll be able to handle it?  Share in the comments below.

It’s the typical setup, with modules, workbooks, audio, AND video.

The concept is a little different, and I think really helpful, we look at each organ system of the body and the effect of aging on that system, AND THEN, well find the remedy for each. There are multiple remedies and many, many (more than you can dream) opportunities to remedy the issue with that system. It’s really very enlightening, and I think your clients will enjoy the way this is all tied together in a very scientific and logical approach.

Of course, it’s beautiful and fun too. The most honest and thorough program on aging to date. See the cause and effect and make the change.

It’s not too early to start and never too late to make a choice to have the fullest, most satisfying life. The Art of Aging combines science and art to make your life a masterpiece regardless of which stage you’re at.

 

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6 Comments

  1. Sharona ES

    the art of aging…lots to ponder…I know for me is watching my aging parents…of course, how aging appears in each of us is as unique as we are…

    Reply
  2. Jackie Harder

    Wow…that’s quite a journey. I’m so happy that Gary is improving all the time. (I thought it was funny that you said he was your early-warning system, though.)

    I went to my doc for something or other — another sure sign of again! — and said to him, “Who was that who said, ‘Getting old isn’t for sissies’?”

    “Everyone,” he said.

    That made me laugh…unlike so many other things about aging that are not funny in the least.

    After falling in November and cracking my ulna in 2 places — then, just 2 months later — falling AGAIN, I decided I need to do something about my balance and core strength. I took up yoga again (after a 50-year hiatus) and couldn’t be happier with my physical health and whole outlook on life and again. Highly recommended.

    Reply
    • Cathy

      I’m sorry to hear about all the trouble you’ve had, but so happy that you’ve made such positive changes. You are a good example of applying the art of aging.

      Reply
  3. Eva Wright

    So glad he is doing better and feeling better. I have been both the patient and then the caregiver so I know how exhausting both ends of the spectrum can really be. I am now 50 and still trying to age gracefully.

    Reply
  4. Tandy Elisala

    Cathy, I’m SO glad Gary is doing so much better. As you know, being a family caregiver is a tough job; particularly when you don’t know the outcome. That must have been scary when bringing him home in his post-surgery condition.

    The big message here is: TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY TODAY SO IT WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU TOMORROW. I’ve been exercising 3 times a week, walking more and I’m going to get back to yoga. I’ve also been reducing my carb and fat intake. I want to be as independent as possible for as long as possible!

    Thanks for sharing your journey. I know it will help many! Here’s to aging gracefully.

    Reply
  5. Claudette Chenevert

    It’s never easy taking care of someone we love, and I think taking care of our spouses is probably the most challenging. I remember taking care of my husband, and just for a few moments, I resented his disease because we couldn’t enjoy our lives the way we used to.
    Today we both try to be more healthy conscious although exercise is always the one thing we neglect.
    I’m really glad that your husband is back to his new self. Having new knees makes you feel like you can do anything – that’s what I’ve heard my friends say.
    Thanks for sharing your story (and we won’t tell your husband you shared his.)

    Reply

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