Getting Old

Getting Old.  Dammit man, this sucks.  I remember when I was young and took simple things likes walking, hearing, breathing, etc for granted.  The older you get the harder all these simple things get.

I have been using a CPAP/BIPAP for almost 20 years.  Mainly because I have sleep apnea.  But with the added benefit of reduced snoring which has made my spouse sleep a little better.

Until I had a new sleep study.  After that I had to increase my BIPAP settings to the point where I find it hard to get the mask to seal and stay sealed against my face.  Now, the fart noises that emit from my face are what wake her.  They wake me too. I tried making the mask tighter…but the added pressure on my head causes me to awake with a headache.  I think I have eaten my weight in acetaminophen.  I usually take a couple before I go to sleep and then a couple after I wake up so that by noon time or so, my head pain has subsided.

Walking?  Forgeddaboutit.  I haven’t been able to walk without a stumble in my step for years.  I have pain in my joints (Gout), lower legs (neuropathy) and my ass where it meets my lower back.  I use a cane to maintain balance, but even then I sometimes fall.  I had to leave western NY in 2011 (my boyhood home) in part because of my inability to walk on frozen ground.  I wish I had $20 for every time I landed on my ass up there.

I have been under the care of the Veteran’s Administration since the 1990s, shortly after my release from the Army.  I have seen many different VA clinics and hospitals.  They are all different.  One type of drug that may be available from one VA is sometimes not available at a different VA.  Formulary drugs.  Like I am supposed to understand what that means.  To me, it means certain VAs do not have the funds to budget availability of some drugs while other VAs do.  Seems like a simple explanation, doesn’t it?

Anyway, I have also been seeing the same family doctor in Oviedo, FL since 1992 when my job with the Army brought me to Orlando.  This man has watched all of my children grow up and they are still using him in adulthood.  I trust this man with my life.  I have met no one at the VA who I can make that statement about.

So, since I left the military in 1991, I have been diagnosed with many different ailments.  The biggest pain in the ass has been diabetes.  The VA started throwing drugs at me from gliberide to glipizide to metformin and now finally insulin.  Insulin has been a major part of my daily routine for almost 20 years.  I feel I have lived with diabetes a lot longer than since the treatment began.  The symptoms that the doctors asked about which led me to further tests to confirm I had diabetes had been something I had been dealing with for a long time.  I believe I have had diabetes since before I left the Army.  I will contend that until the day I die.

I have been diagnosed with arterial fibrillation (A-Fib), congestive heart failure, diabetes, gout, obesity, depression, anxiety, stress, peripheral neuropathy, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, hearing loss, tinnitus, problems with eyesight, stricture of the urethra requiring surgery four times, I have been subject to biopsies of my heart, my prostate and had tubes shoved into my heart via my inner thigh.  Since my departure from the military, I feel I have become worthless to society.  Depression has been a large part of my life since my discharge.

I sometimes think, ‘Hey, I can start exercising…lose weight…maybe reduce the need for all this insulin (three types)….regain better use of my legs, etc., etc., etc.’ Then, I hit a valley.  Life for me has become hills and valleys.  High points and low points.  When I get to a high point, I begin to think improvement of life is possible. I would just have to work at it…control my eating habits, exercise a bit. These feelings usually do not last very long.  Sometimes less than five minutes. Then I slip into another valley or ‘low point.’  It can be brought on by a simple argument with my wife….or my football team losing again, or an unexpected letter from the IRS.

Sometimes, in the moments of waking up, I will think, today will be the day.  I am going to eat healthy, I will exercise a bit…then just as quick as those thoughts pass through my mind, I sit up, stand and hobble to the bathroom where I have to pee….and sometimes, when I go to pee, my urethra opening is so small, peeing is a very painful process. I am given catheters and another little item referred to as an ‘ice pick’ which I am to use in stretching the urethra opening so that I can pee in a stream that is not painful.  It is a horrible thing I am dealing with, but it is things like this that make me want to give up.

I have considered stopping my medications.  Stop stabbing myself with insulin needles twice daily.  Not for good….but for a week.  Just to see what it would feel like.  These thoughts come to me during the ‘valleys.’

It seems the older I get, the more I am tired of dealing with the ailments that have become my life.  I have grown children who really do not need me anymore (this is a good thing).  I feel I did what I had to do to prepare them for life as adults. My four older children are married, seem to be happy and three of them gave me a grand child. I love my grand children more than anything in life.  I wish I could see them more.  They are the reason I don’t act on the idea of stopping my medications for a week.  Well, them and my children and wife as well.

I spend a lot of time by myself.  A lot.  On an average day, I will wake up in time to see my youngest son off to school…and when I return, my wife heads out the door to school.  I dabble on the computer, play some games on face book, read the latest news and then I might watch some TV that I recorded on my DVR.  I take a lot of naps.  Usually around noon until I have to pick up my son at school. Then I help him with his homework, make sure he gets a little snack and then wait for Mom to get home from work.  During that time I am alone, I do a lot of thinking.  I often ask myself, what can I possibly offer to my family anymore. Sure, I am here for them if they want to talk.  If they ever need me to keep their kids while they have other things to do, I am all for that.  I wonder, am I a good husband?  Sometimes, I feel like all I do is frustrate my wife.  I can’t drive to the post office and back home without having to find somewhere to stop and pee.  I can’t walk more then 100 feet before my back pain becomes so incredible, I have to sit…anywhere.

I made the mistake of going to miniature golf with my wife and son and I barely made the 3rd hole before I needed a rest.  I remember being able to race through a mini golf course….decades ago it seems.

In any normal day, I go from hill to valley to hill to valley again a couple of dozen times.  There are some days where I stay in the bed the entire time my son is at school.  I lay there awake….thinking about my life.  Thinking about what there might be left to do.  Realistically.  I guess I can develop a bucket list, but other than seeing my kids and grand kids be successful in life, I really don’t have any things to put on a bucket list.  I have this desire to go to Australia.  I have always wanted to go to Australia, but to deem it something I MUST do before I die….I am not feeling that.

I must sit down and write a blog on Death one day.  I am comfortable with the idea I will one day die.  I have my own ideas of what death will be like, but it sure isn’t on line with what modern day bible thumpers believe. That is definitely a blog for another day.

Before I close this blog, I am reminded that my feet are my constant reminders that I am getting older every day.  It feelings like I am walking on cinders and gravel all the time, even if I am walking on carpet or even laying in bed.  My feet are always cold.  I wear socks to bed (something I recently began doing) and they are still cold.  Sometimes, even when I am not wearing socks, it feels like I have the tightest socks possible on my feet.  It feels like I have rubber bands wrapped very tightly around every one of my toes.  I try to make a fist (you know what I am talking about) with my foot, curling my toes underneath my foot and it is so uncomfortable.

Maybe, because of diabetes, I may one day lose my feet.  I am not sure how I would handle that.  The healing process from that and simply learning how to maneuver around my own home would be a challenge.  I believe this would make the adventure known as death, a little more welcome.

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