I'm usually pretty good at dealing with change. I'm often the instigator of change because change can be a good thing, right? Right. Until it isn't.
I'm not sure what the trigger was but it's been more than a decade since people started asking me if I hated getting old. Old? What was that? I was fine. I could do anything I wanted to, whenever I wanted to. I have a low boredom threshold, so I do a lot of different things at different times. At various times, my physical activities have included jazz ballet, kayaking, bushwalking, horseriding, gym memberships, personal trainers, aqua aerobics, swimming, snorkeling, canooing, jogging, walking, ballroom dancing, zumba, latin dancing, ice skating, pilates, and probably a few things I've forgotten because I only did them once before losing interest or deciding it wasn't for me.
Then, about three years ago, my horse stumbled while picking his way down a hill. Neither of us fell, but my neck got such a jolt that I couldn't move for three months. I still have a problem with a couple of bulging discs.
And that's all it took to suddenly be old. I can't go riding anymore, I can't ride a roller coaster or go on any theme-park rides, not even the tame ones like the dodgems. I can't go skydiving - not that I'd ever jump out of a perfectly good plane, but the restriction is there.
Since then my mobility has slowly decreased until even basic things seem to cause injury. Walking the dogs a few months ago resulted in a tear in my medial meniscus. I can't climb and I can't dance. I can't do anything that requires me to put lateral pressure on my knee, which means there's not much I can do apart from walk in a straight line on even ground. I can't walk longer than an hour - and I have to have my knee strapped to go that far.
The other day, I was feeling pretty good. Two days pain-free. So I thought, great, I can stretch this walk out, increase the pace, add in a few jogged sections (seriously, it was only a dozen or so steps and very slow). You know--have fun. I kept it short because I didn't want to re-injure myself. Too bad I can't get it through my head that I can't do that sort of thing anymore because I've just spent the last three days hobbling around. At least today I managed to walk up and down steps without having to use the railing to drag myself up.
The thing is, I'm not old. Average life expectancy is still decades away. The fact my body is beginning to disagree with me is irrelevant. I've decided to do something about it, whatever I need to do to be able to move again. So next week I'm having surgery. I'm told at one end of the spectrum that I'll be walking the same day and dancing again within six weeks. The other end of the spectrum says I won't be moving freely for at least three weeks and I can kiss dancing good-bye forever. I hope they're wrong. I love dancing.
The only thing I can be sure of is that there are more changes ahead of me. I'm hoping most of them will be the fun kind although I know some of them won't be fun at all.
E E Montgomery
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