Tag Archives: aging

On the brink of my 55th

6 Jul

Tomorrow I will turn 55 years old. My body feels like 75 sometimes, and my mind feels like 35 most of the time. Young at heart, with an occasional “old lady” look of uncontrollable tufts of white hairs that I can’t seem to manage with my hair brush. This is how I look before morning coffee.

Grumpy Bird

In the last couple of months, I have not thought too much about how I feel (regarding the XLH). My broken foot is feeling much better, and I am taking a significant amount of time off from my job during the month of July, which gives my body time to rest from my physical job.

What I have felt in the last couple of months has not been about myself much at all. I’ve mostly been feeling bad for other people who have had some difficult times. Serious illness, death and unexpected major  surgeries have touched the lives of some of my friends and family members.  I’ve felt fortunate that compared to what others have suffered, I’ve been doing okay.

My mother has been an inspiration to me recently, too. About two months or so ago, she fell and her artificial hip popped out of joint. It took a doctor and three of her assistants to pop it back in when my mother showed up in the emergency room. (They had to sedate her first!) My mother told me later it was THE worst pain she had ever felt. She’s been recovering at home for several weeks now, with a lot of restrictions on her activity. I have spent some weekends with her and I have been amazed at how easy she has been to care for. She doesn’t complain or whine or gripe. We’ve had fun watching some TV, talking and singing duets while I played the ukulele. I just don’t know if I could be as good a patient as she has been if I were ever put to the test.

I have mentioned in previous blogs that there has been a question as to whether or not I inherited my XLH from her, since she has some of the symptoms of people with this disease/disorder. I just found out last week that some recent blood work she had indicates that she does NOT have XLH. That would make me a spontaneous case.

When my sister told me my mother’s blood test results over the phone last week, I said, “Wow. She doesn’t have XLH! I’m adopted.”

She laughed out loud and said, “You’re a fluke.” We used to ask our mother when we were children if we were adopted and made her show us our birth certificates. I don’t know why we were convinced we were adopted.

But now that I know I didn’t inherit a mutated X chromosome from her, I am worried! What if one day I’m temporarily disabled (like she is now) and I find out that I also did not inherit her sweet nature and pleasant personality? What if I also had a mutation on the attitude gene and become a total grouch and a whiner? I take 7 pills a day for my XLH but there’s no pill for grousing and whining. Seriously, though, I hope I can be like her. I’m sure I will be put to the test one day.

In the meantime, I try to daily count my blessings. I try to enjoy friends when I’m with them, enjoy my family when I see them, inhale the sweet gardenias that are blooming right now, look at the sky, the clouds, the stars, and take in all the beauty that I can.

I like to watch the hummingbirds feeding on my back deck and remind myself to savor the sweetness of life, whenever I can, wherever I can.

June Hummer

Copyright S.G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2015

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Changes

17 Oct

Things change. I don’t always do well with changes, especially when they affect my health. Those of you with XLH know that sometimes things can change rather quickly as we age. They certainly have for me. This past week, I had to address my sudden rise in blood pressure, which of course, doesn’t have anything to do with XLH and isn’t a side effect of the medications we take, but can simply be just one more thing we can get in middle age. For me, I halfway expected it, since both my parents have high blood pressure. I assumed I had just gotten another “genetic thing” to deal with.

So, I went to my family doctor, at the strong suggestion of my endocrinologist, to get her wise counsel on this problem. Her first thought is that my allergy medication, Claritin D-12, is the source of my problem. “If you were a smoker, I would tell you to stop smoking,” she said. “If you used crack cocaine, I’d tell you to stop using crack cocaine. But I am going to tell you–no more decongestants for your allergies!” If any of you readers live in or near the allergy capital of the world like I do, then you know that this kind of change is a little scary. I mean, I get some bad sinus headaches, and I’ll take my bone pain over a nauseating headache any day. Seriously. I will do almost anything to avoid those headaches.

But, I stopped taking all decongestants. That’s it, I’m done. She prescribed another allergy medication to take its place. We’ll see if it works. My blood pressure has gotten back to normal, so far. Maybe those parental genes haven’t kicked in yet. The good thing is that Claritin D-12 was a large pill, so now I have more room in my pillbox, and if you read my post from a couple weeks ago, you know that’s important to me. Therefore, I added the fish oil pill back into the box, since it is supposed to help with–yep–blood pressure.

Some changes are GOOD!

And, one of my favorite changes are the changes of colors around here as we transition from summer into fall. Yeah, I know, leaf mold bothers some people, but gosh, it sure is pretty. I will leave you with some photographs I have taken in the last two weeks, to celebrate some beautiful changes I enjoy. Happy autumn, friends!

Mabry Mill

Autumn at Mabry Mill

Behind Mabry Mill

Behind Mabry Mill

Widow Falls

Widow Falls at Stone Mountain in Elkin, NC

Copyright 2014, S.G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, all rights reserved.

Point of View

6 Oct

I had an appointment with my endocrinologist last week that confirmed something that I have long suspected–I have an odd point of view about some things. Now, I know that I do have a unique point of view, literally, when it comes to my short vantage point. I mean, I have seen more belt buckles in my lifetime than most people, which is why I hate large parties with complete strangers.

What led him to conclude that my way of thinking was a unique sort of logic came about as a result of him confirming what medications I currently take. In August, he had prescribed two new meds for me, calcitriol and phospha 250, and that was going to add 5 pills per day to my pillbox. Those of you XLH-ers who take those meds know that while the calcitriol is small, the phospha 250 is what my mother would refer to as a “horse pill.” Those 3 phospha pills and 2 calcitriol pills per day simply did not fit in my pillbox. So, I guess I’m vain. When I realized they didn’t fit, the first thing that came to my mind was, “Something’s got to go,” not, “I need a bigger pillbox.” I decided that since my cholesterol pill is doing a great job of lowering my bad cholesterol, then I could probably eliminate the flax seed pill and the fish oil pill, both of which are quite large. I did that, problem solved. Quite honestly, I associate huge pill boxes with old age. I know, I know, that’s really not fair, but what can I say? I’m just not ready for the big pillbox that has four compartments for each day. I can’t bring myself to carry a pillbox that qualifies as “carry-on luggage.” I am vain, just between me and you.

Blue Pill Box

Which leads me to reveal a secret dream that I’ve had for many years. I discussed this with a friend several years ago, when I bought my current pillbox, the one that seems to be shrinking. We felt like people in our generation would appreciate a more whimsical, fun pillbox. We both agreed that a pillbox that is more like a Pez dispenser would be way more cool to carry around and whip out at the restaurant than the boring ones that are currently available. And now that I have pills that are supposed to be taken with meals, the calcitriol and the phospha 250, I think it’s time to work on my invention.

Just remember: You first read about it here!

Pez Pill Boxes

My current vintage collection consists of Woodstock Wednesday, Snoopy Sunday, Tasmanian Tuesday and Fred Friday. I need three more, for Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Suggestions?

Fred Friday pills

Hmm…those doggone phospha pills are a little long. I guess I’ll have to stand them up or cut them in half. Still, though, way cooler than a box.

Copyright S. G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2014

My Inspiration

21 Jul

Those of you who read my blog who have XLH know that our bones “act” older than we really are. Sometimes I feel like I’m aging at warp speed–not all the time, but sometimes. Of course, we’re all getting older if we’re fortunate enough to still be breathing. One of my dogs, Deacon the Jack Russell Terrier, has been a true inspiration for me in the last year. He’s an old guy–almost 14 years old by my estimation–and he inspires me every day. He is the most determined creature I know when it comes to carrying on with the daily routine of living. He makes sure he gets his walk and his food at the time he is supposed to get them. I can set my clock by him. If I try to stray outside the routine, he makes sure to get me back on track.

He is a rescue dog; his “owners” abandoned him in 2002 and he managed to “find” me. He was heartworm-positive and needed two rounds of treatment to recover. He also smelled so bad when I first took him in, that he had to sleep outside in a crate on the deck for the first night or two until whatever he had been eating off the streets had made its way out of his system. A bath could not rid him of his foul odor. I had another Jack Russell Terrier at the time, Pogo, who ruled the house (and me) and Deacon’s personality never really came out until Pogo died 2009. I discovered that Deacon had his own distinct personality and is very smart. Prior to that, I had my doubts. He lived in Pogo’s shadow. Come to think of it, I also lived in Pogo’s shadow!

Within the last year, I have been inspired by Deacon and how he deals with aging. It’s not always a graceful aging process with him–sometimes, he starts up the back steps and missteps and rolls back down–but he gets up, determined to make it back up. On those days when he’s moving slower than usual, he will ask for help. So, here’s my series of photos I have taken within the last year that I’ll call “Everything I ever learned about aging, I learned from Deacon.”

#1 Be open to new adventures, even if it involves riding in the back seat of a car.

Deacon riding in the car

 

 

#2 If possible, take time to sit outside in the sunshine.

Deacon

 

#3 Observe the world around you. God’s creation can still amaze us, even when we’re older. Maybe we can’t see it or smell it as well as we used to, but we can still be amazed. And, of course, be on the lookout for squirrels.

Deacon on the alert

 

#4 Some days, you’re just going to feel like crap. Be extra good to yourself on those days, maybe even throw on your party beads and wrap yourself up in a cheerful blanket.

Deacon in his finest

 

#5 Try to make new friends, even if they’re very different from you. It might take some time, and you may want to chase them away at first, but you might end up liking them more than you thought you would!

Deacon meets the neighbor's cat

 

#6 Accept offers of assistance. (This one is really hard for me!) Sometimes, we just need a little help getting up those steps, or reaching things on the top shelf at the grocery store or picking up something we’ve dropped. Let someone help you. It might make their day!

Deacon and his assistant

 

 

#7 Take naps. Aging can be tiring. Also, there is nothing wrong with having a favorite blanket, if that helps you to take a good nap.

Deacon and his blanket

 

 

#8 Relax. Try to get rid of the things in life that cause you tension. Meditate or pray. Take time to just be still and perhaps get a new perspective.

Deacon rests

 

 

I love this little guy. I hope he will continue to mentor me through the aging process for a little while longer!

 

Copyright S.G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2014. All Rights Reserved.

 

Winter-cise

17 Mar

This year in the South, during the months of January, February and March, we have been experiencing a thing that non-southerners call “Winter.” This happens to us about every 5-10 years, and of course, we feel sorry for ourselves and victimized by Mother Nature. She’s basically picking on us this year. Here in NC, we have seen a couple of snowstorms, ice storms, single digit temperatures, and I have personally seen more snow-covered lawn furniture photos posted on Facebook than I have ever seen before. I thought people did that because snow-covered lawn furniture is ironic; however, one friend told me that people use their lawn furniture to show off how much snow they got. Who knew? I still think they do it for the irony, and just don’t realize it.

So, my daily walks with the dogs have been greatly affected by this bad weather. In the mornings, I can hardly walk in perfect weather, never mind icy, snowy weather. Professorgrrl insists that I stay inside and not take the chance of going outside and falling. Being a person who likes to “chillax” as kids say, I don’t argue. However, this doesn’t help me keep my, ahem, girlish figure. (Neither does aging.)

Therefore, I devised my own indoor exercise plan. Since the house is all one level (yep, that’s on purpose) I decided to count how many steps (my steps, not a regular person’s steps) there are from the kitchen on one side of the house to the back bedroom on the other side of the house. There are about 50, making a round trip of 100 steps. I went online and found that around 2500-2600 steps equals one mile. (I guess that’s regular people’s steps.) I decided I would walk in the house on snowy and icy days to “get my exercise on.” The first day, I stopped at 600. That was before I discovered how many steps equal one mile. Then I knew I needed to push a little harder than 600 steps. So far, the most I’ve gone is 2000 before the left knee starts to complain loudly. Walking is one of the best things for helping my back, though.

And here’s the other benefit. The dogs are completely fascinated when I do this. Well, Tucker actually looks a little worried about the whole thing. He usually stays out of the way and watches from a perch on the recliner.

Tucker staring

But Deacon, the old guy, thinks that this is the most exciting plan that I’ve ever come up with. He walks with me, and must think we’re going somewhere. Today, he even walked with me so long that he started panting and had to stop for water.

20140317_163620_1      Deacon leading me

His happy attitude about my walking (he’s usually an Eeyore, so this is a nice change) encourages me to go for 2000 steps. I don’t know what he thinks will happen when I arrive, but it’s obviously something great.

Sometimes, it sure is nice to have a cheerleader.

Deacon barking

Copyright 2014-2019, Banjogrrldiaries and S.G. Hunter

If a Tree Falls

5 Aug

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Apparently this philosophical question has been batted around for decades, even hundreds of years. I have always thought it to be about the dumbest and most egocentric question I have ever heard. AS IF sound is completely dependent upon some human to hear it. AS IF nothing exists unless WE say it does. That’s an incredibly arrogant point of view. Just ask my dog, who hears the rumble of thunder long before I do. Sound is not dependent upon me.

However, speaking of trees, I have had some interesting trees in my camera viewfinder this summer. This tree pictured below houses some red-headed woodpeckers. Earlier in the spring when I saw it, though the tree appeared to be quite dead, it stood straight and tall. When I saw it again this summer, it looked as if it had been struck by lightning and had cracked and would have fallen to the ground, had it not been caught by a neighboring pine tree. It still houses the woodpeckers, though I’m sure they had to rearrange their nest now that it has a major case of lean-itis.

Woodpecker peering into tree hole

Leaning tree

Woodpecker peering into tree hole

Close-up of Red-headed woodpecker in the leaning tree

The other tree I have found this summer was standing quite tall and majestic in a winery vineyard. It appears to be dead, too. It strikes quite a pose as it stands completely alone in the vineyard, with no other trees nearby. You can see that there’s a bird perched in it, too.

Like a tree planted by the grape vines

When this vineyard tree falls one day, and I’m sure it will, I imagine that the sound will be something like a loud “thud” and it might even shake the ground when it hits, since there will be nothing to catch its fall. When the woodpecker tree fell sometime this late spring or early summer, I imagine that the sound it made was something like a “crack” followed by a slow “whoosh” as it fell over to rest in the arms of the pine tree nearby.

Why the difference? A scientist would have a different answer than the one I’m going to suggest. So would a sound technician. “Blah, blah, blah” is the sound I imagine coming out of their mouths.

The difference, and I’m sure you’ve guessed it already, is the woodpecker tree is surrounded by a community of other trees who caught it before it hit the ground. The landing was quite soft. Sadly, the lone vineyard tree has no other community of trees to provide a soft landing. It will fall hard.

As I get older, I have to work a little harder, I think, to make sure that I surround myself with a community of friends, family, and companions in my life’s journey. It’s very easy for me to sit at home and isolate myself in some way. At the end of the work day, I am tired, and so it takes a little extra effort to go out with friends or make plans with those I love. I have watched some older people isolate themselves, too. It takes energy to be with other people, let’s face it. Even extroverts get tired, or so I hear.

I think that some of my fellow XLH-ers, too, probably get tired from the amount of physical energy it takes to actually get out, if they are able. This probably applies to others who are becoming less-abled either due to aging or due to medical problems. One of my relatives, whom I love very much, is finally getting some help narrowing down her diagnosis of an auto-immune disease. She’s ready for whatever help she can get so that she can feel better. Right now, though, reaching out to those around her takes a lot of energy, but she is managing to do that. I think she understands the importance of community and I hope she’ll continue to reach out to me and others for support.

We’re all going to fall someday, in some way. We may fall emotionally, spiritually, morally, or mentally. We may even fall physically. (I usually have about one big “splat” per year, and thank goodness, I’ve already had mine this year so the rest of the year is looking pretty good.) I ask myself and invite you to ask yourself, “Have I surrounded myself with a community of others who might catch me or at least let me lean on them awhile?” I hope that I am doing that. I hope you are doing that. We need each other. Maybe physically getting out is impossible for you—I know that it is for some. Have you tried social media, like Facebook? Can you join an online support group? We XLH-ers have a wonderful group, found at xlhnetwork.org, and I know that many other support groups exist for people who need support for one thing or another. I have rarely commented in my group, but just reading the comments and emails of others makes me feel like I’m part of a community that cares and understands my particular medical condition. These days, there are support groups for all kinds of people, so it’s a lot easier to find folks with whom to connect. I even know some people who are not a part of a faith community that meets in a building somewhere because they’re disenchanted and disappointed with organized religion and yet they still meet regularly with like-minded friends who share their beliefs and desires to make the world a better place. Often we can just take a look around and find someone on whom we can lean.

Better yet, we can be that person who is close by, waiting to catch someone when they fall.

Copyright Banjogrrldiaries and S.G. Hunter, 2013-2018

I Can Dance!

9 Jun

I can dance! Okay, not really. I mean, I used to be able to cut a few moves when I was younger, since I am a musician, after all, but with this whole aging thing, plus the addition of having XLH, my moves are not very cool looking. I have very good rhythm from the waist up, but my lower half can’t bust any moves, and if I try, well, it’s not pretty. It leans more towards being comical. It’s a shame, too, since I do have good rhythm, and all.

I have recently figured out a way around that. I play in a music group and we now have a percussionist on occasion and when we play in retirement homes, we’ve been bringing out the handmade limberjack cat that I’ve had for probably 15 years or so. I became concerned that the cat was a little too special to cart around to these gigs, and decided that what we really needed was a limberjack dog. If you don’t know what a limberjack is, check out my video of Corky, the Limberjack Dog that I made.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zpa7KRIcRQ

Being somewhat obsessive in nature, I decided that I just couldn’t stop with making only one limberjack. So, I felt like I needed to make a Limberjack Chicken, to dance to “Cluck Old Hen.” Now, this chicken can REALLY bust a few moves! She throws in a little tap dancing, too. I admire her fancy footwork.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8A8plyxSBI

I have a confession to make, too. I have watched these videos several times. I have always loved watching people dance; even ballet thrills me. Maybe there’s a touch of envy, too, when I watch others dance, but really, I am just fascinated by the strength and agility that it takes to be a good dancer. I even like watching ballet. I think good dancing is really fun to watch. Watching my limberjacks dance on the videos gives me a similar feeling, with a little comedy thrown in, because I KNOW there’s no way any of God’s creatures could do what those crazy limberjack dolls do.

When I posted my limberjack dog and my limberjack chicken videos, I had a few friends who enjoyed them so much, they wanted me to make one for them. Now, I can tell you that this is not a business I want to start. You can buy a homemade limberjack for $30-$40 online, plus shipping, and I don’t know how in the world people can charge so LITTLE for making those things. Maybe I’m just slow in the shop—it did take a little longer for me, of course, since I had to draw my own designs, but still—it’s not a money-making operation!

So, here’s what I’m doing, instead. I am offering my detailed woodworking plans (with the drawing of the dog and the chicken) along with photographs so that you can make your own limberjack dog or chicken. Maybe you can’t dance due to physical challenges, but your hands still work, so you can give these a try. If you know a woodworker (they don’t have to be very advanced—I’m not!) then ask them to make one for you. Perhaps you know a physical therapist or someone who works in music therapy with kids or adults who can use one of these, too. I’m not charging for my plans but I am making a request: if you’re a woodworker, make two of them—one to keep and one to give to someone who might not otherwise be able to dance or who works with kids or adults with physical disabilities. I showed the videos to my physical therapist friend and she asked me to come do a “show” for some of the physically challenged kids that she works with. Kids love these. As a matter of fact, adults love these. Now, maybe you don’t know of someone that you can give one of these to. So, if you want my woodworking plans, then please consider making a minimum $5 donation (that’s about the cost of a set of easy woodworking plans these days) to XLH Network, which can be found via the internet at www.xlhnetwork.org. Many XLH-er’s have either never been able to dance or perhaps, like me, they know their dancing days are over, at least from the waist down. Your contribution is tax-deductible.

How to request the plans: I am hesitant to post my email address on a blog, due to the prevalence of spammers, so here’s my idea. You can send me your email address in a comment to this blog. I will copy the email address and send you the plans (in a Word document for the instructions and a pdf. file of the drawings) but will not “approve” your comment (if it has your email address in it) to be published in my blog. If you want to make a comment to my post, like, “Cool! Love the chicken!” then you can send that comment separately from your request with the email. The nice comment will be “approved” and shown on the blog, but I’m not going to let your email address be shown. Those spammers…they are annoying, aren’t they???

Just so you know—I am now working on a cow and a rooster. The music is still playing so why stop with two dancing limberjacks?