As my birthday comes again, for some reason, I have been thinking more and more about aging. This year I feel so much older than previous birthdays. And no, I’m not giving away my age, sorry.
I suppose the reason I have been feeling older is that I am noticing a few changes in my body. My hair has a few more strands of gray, I have a couple more wrinkles than in my previous decade, and I have more freckles. Shame on me for not wearing sunscreen—having a Norwegian background. There’s still time to change that, right? I can always start slathering it on now. SPF 70!
My age has me thinking about my past: what I was like five years ago, ten years ago and so on. I feel so old now, but how will I feel in ten years from now, I wonder? I hear people say that things always get worse as you age. Is that true? If so, how depressing.
Five years ago, I began taking care of my health, power-walking on lunch breaks, cutting back on sugar, trying to eat more healthily, drinking the aspired “eight glasses of water” per day. Life was good and getting better for my health. I even lost a little weight.
One year later, I had a stroke. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I would spend the next few years getting back into shape. It was shocking that when I left the hospital I had gained about eight pounds. In my first two months, I gained 20 pounds! All my hard work destroyed. It made sense, though, since I was lying in bed all day except for bathroom and meal breaks. I couldn’t even walk for the first couple of weeks. My newly sculpted muscles were turning to mush.
After the stroke, my new job was learning how to walk again without without falling over (which happened too many times to count). The term, exercise, had a new definition: balancing, taking showers without assistance, holding a fork, and driving.
My stroke was a few days after my birthday four years ago. I think about my life and my choices; I have many things in my life that are better. I am a lot stronger physically and emotionally than I was four years ago. I can walk without assistance and think clearly. I can drive. I can do just about everything on my own again. I have also learned so many things about myself since then, about what I can handle, what my strengths are, and what my deficits are. I now live life with a sense of gratitude and a greater appreciation for family. All these things that may have never come if it weren’t for the stroke. Being four years older doesn’t hurt either.