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Stay Sexy ~ Sometimes you have to follow the rules.

Hubs and I write erotic romance together. It goes without saying that we like to bend a lot of rules or sometimes even break them. But I’m learning a lot this week, post eye-surgery, about when to break them and when not to.

It turns out I didn’t receive as many restrictions as I feared – thanks to a very skilled surgeon and catching the condition early, I presume. Some patients have to spend weeks or even a month maintaining a face-down position after retinal surgery, and I was spared that, for which I’m very grateful.

So the rules are few, but rigid:

No lifting over ten pounds for a week. That’s a little more than a gallon of milk (at 8 pounds). Can I guage that? Not so sure. Yesterday evening when we walked down to the lake, I moved a plastic Adirondack chair. I hope it wasn’t too heavy – I was rewarded shortly afterward with the view below.

Lake Sawyer Moon 08 08 14

Confession, ex-post-facto. I just looked up the chair on line – it weighs 7.25 pounds, so I was safe.

No bending at the waist for a week. I’m not sure I ever stopped to think how many simple household tasks automatically involve bending – anything that needs picking up off the floor, for example. I’m trying, I truly am. Step One: Pay Attention!

Exercise. I knew this would be the hardest one and was fearful for my mood and overall attitude if I couldn’t work out at all. No workouts yet, but for the first week, walking is permitted – so we’re taking three nice walks a day, and I only struggled with mood issues the first twenty-four hours. Can’t go dancing yet, but it won’t be long.

Yup, I’m sticking to the rules on this one, as best I can. My reward? A truly miraculous improvement in my vision. Definitely worth it.

 

Stay Sexy ~ You Have to Ask for it

Got your attention? Not what you’re thinking, though I’m all for asking for what you like in the bedroom, as well.

Couple-on-bike-smallIt’s about asking for physical therapy. I’ve been chatting on Facebook with the amazing Emma Lai, who has struggled for years with back pain and joint pain, and finally got referred to a physical therapist, where she learned there is actually something she can do that will be effective. Watch for an upcoming blog from her in these pages, and read her interesting journey thus far in this Interview from last April.

Chatting with Emma got me thinking: How did I learn I had to ask for physical therapy?

It shouldn’t have to happen. Doctors, after all, study anatomy, including all those tendons, muscle groups, and how they’re linked up to each other and to our skeletons. Doctors ought to know. Somehow, though, the links get trained out of them, and they’re taught to think in terms of surgery or drugs.

Here’s the scenario, about fifteen years ago. At that time, hubs and I lived on forty acres of tamarack woods in northern Minnesota, not far from the Boundary waters. There’s a LOT of winter in those lands, and if you want to stay active, you have to be outdoors in it. As soon as the snow was deep enough, we’d follow the deer trails on our snowshoes and tramp out a couple miles of trail for our cross country skis. (in case you’re wondering, yes, humans are much taller than deer, and we worked each summer on keeping the branches trimmed so we could navigate). That way we could ski from mid November till sometime in March or maybe even April, some years.

This probably happened as the weather was beginning to enter the cycle of melt and freeze in late winter. I slipped and slid on my ski, tried too hard not to fall, and pulled a hamstring. F.Y.I., a pulled hamstring is serious enough to take an Olympic athlete out of competition. Just saying. It hurt like the blazes. Hubs helped me hobble back to the house, where I grabbed the crutches left over from a son’s knee injury and managed to get around the first floor okay for a day or two.

It didn’t get any better, so I went to the doctor. I have a vivid memory of standing in front of her as she looked up from whatever it was she’d been doing to examine me. Her diagnosis? “Yup, you’ve pulled something.” She went on to suggest pain control medications, rest, and avoiding stairs. In a two story house.

Tried that for two or three days, with no improvement. Then I remembered the very useful physical therapy hubs had benefited from when he twisted his knee downhill skiing, so I called the clinic back and asked for a referral to PT, which they granted.

Like Emma, I learned what to do to strengthen the muscle groups around the hamstring, and what exercises to avoid, at least until it healed. It took a long time. I still carried a special seat cushion as long as two years after the injury, but have no after effects now.

The best consequence of this saga? A very valuable lesson: If physical therapy isn’t offered, ask for it. Even if the referral isn’t given, there’s a lot of information on line. In the last year, I’ve successfully rehabbed a strained knee joint, based on what hubs and I had already learned from his knee therapy and what I was able to find on line. I can go dancing again with the best of them.

I’m not one to sit around and just accept the fate that’s handed me, if I have any options. Sometimes there’s nothing we can control, but if we can, I want to find it and tackle it with my best effort. If it’s not offered to you, ask for it.

Meanwhile, have fun, and Stay Sexy.

 

A Bump in the Road

Since starting to write our Stay Sexy column a year and a half ago, I’ve focused on keeping it upbeat, sharing encouraging stories, interviewing authors who experience success with their health-related goals, and offering tips and information to help readers stay vibrant, healthy, excited and sexy across the life cycle.

I’m that kind of person, and yes, I was a cheerleader in high school. I didn’t want to be writing a column focused on “coping” with the many ailments that can catch us unawares as we age.

We’ve just been hit with one of those. Not major, if everything goes right – but anything threatening my vision, with which I make a living, feels major to me. I’m working hard to hang onto the attitude that will best position me to sail through this with optimum benefit, and I decided writing about it in this column would (a) help keep me honest and (b) maybe help others who likewise struggle with focusing on the positive when something unexpected blindsides them.

My diagnosis, technically, is a “pseudo-macular-hole” in my left eye. It’s a lesion in the concentrated bundle of nerves at the center of the retina, the area that communicates the vast proportion of visual information to the brain. ”The macula provides the sharp, central vision we need for reading, driving, and seeing fine detail,” (National Eye Institute). Um, yeah, gonna need that for the long haul.

It’s caused by aging – the vitreous gel that fills the eye shrinks with age and can pull away from the retina, causing a hole. My case is considered mild, and we caught it early, so I have much to be grateful for. The surgeon we’ve been referred to is a national expert in this field and she anticipates I will have either complete or nearly complete restoration of my vision in that eye.

I believe her. I don’t know that restoration will be complete, but I believe I have excellent odds, given both her assessment and the energy I’ve focused for years on doing everything in my power to stay healthy.

So where do I struggle with attitude? Lots of places. Any surgery requires a period of rest and inactivity. If I’m not regularly working out, I’m easily subject to depression. I hate when that happens, and I’m not a lot of fun to be around. I’ll have to work hard not to let it get me down or fill me with negative energy that won’t help me heal.

I don’t like unknowns. I don’t like not being able to plan ahead, not being able to know what to expect. If surgery goes as the doctor hopes, I’ll have to stay in a face-down position for at least two days. Longer, if there are problems. I don’t know what’s going to happen.

I’ve never coped easily with unexpected change, though clearly that’s something all of us need to practice as we age. When this problem occurred, we had just arrived in Seattle after four weeks driving up the Oregon and Washington coast on our summer motorhome trip. We’ve changed our travel plans and booked an extra month at the RV resort where we’d only planned to spend a week. I have no idea how soon we’ll be able to head back down the road to our home base in Nevada. Everything else being equal, actually, I hope that’s the biggest unexpected change I’ll be facing as we navigate our way through all this. Could be lots worse (see? Giving myself a pep talk).

And how do I begin to face these issues? Attitude is always a choice. We’ve been given an extra three weeks to explore what the Puget Sound area has to offer. We’ve encountered great beauty and been able to spend time with three sets of friends we might have missed. I’m supported by a husband who loves me, understands me, and will walk with me through whatever happens.

And we’ll keep writing about it, one way or another. Others have gone before me and faced darker days, and they’ve inspired me. For a taste of what matters, check out my conversations in this column with Mahalia Levey and Emma Lai.

I’d love to hear from you about how you’ve coped with bumps in the road, and what you’ve learned. Meanwhile, here are some of my favorite pics from where we’re staying.

IMG_0466    Lily pads at sunset

 

3_Lake Sawyer Mt Rainier sunsetMt. Rainier at sunset

dawn from Bainbridge IslandDawn from Bainbridge Island

 
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