Age is the enemy of good health; the greater the age, the more powerful the enemy. That is not always true, of course, but lately it seems to be an increasingly factual axiom.
As I age, I increasingly engage in combat with challenges to my health. The same is true for my wife. And I see evidence of the battles all around me. The experiences of family and friends and acquaintances offer testimony to the inverse relationship between increased age and good health. Despite the fact that this is not news and, in fact, is universally understood and expected, the reality of age-exacerbated threats to our health is no easier to accept. Vulnerability of one’s own health seems a bit easier to accept than threats to the health of very close loved ones. Witnessing the apprehension and distress of friends who face health issues, either personally or with family members, is hard, as well.
If logic were the driver behind emotions, perhaps declines in one’s health and in the health of those with whom one is close would be easier experiences. But I think logic lessens the burden only slightly, if at all. Logic cannot deaden emotional pain. I am not sure logic can make it any easier to tolerate. But logic might make understanding the circumstances that drive it somewhat less complex. And that might make the experience modestly more tolerable.
These thoughts are flowing through my brain this morning due to personal experiences, the recent experiences of friends, and because of the experiences I learned of this morning that other friends are going through. Heart issues are troubling. But so are health emergencies that confound healthcare professionals. And so are strokes and heart attacks and a thousand other maladies and symptoms, as well as conditions for which there are no symptoms.
Syncope. Memory loss. Weakness. Chest pain. Chronic cough. Swelling of the extremities. The list is almost endless. And the likelihood that the list will include something ominous and threatening to someone important in our lives grows with each passing day. I suppose that reality is where logic must come in. We cannot let fear rule our lives. Logic must inform us that all the myriad ways health can be put at risk will not befall us and our loved ones all at once. Logic and statistics argue against any of us being inundated with the flood all at once, or even all over time.
In my head, compassion shares space with empathy and fear and logic and anger. I try to give the most room to compassion and empathy, but it’s sometime difficult to keep fear and anger from hogging space that wasn’t meant for them. Logic; it slides along as a thin film beneath all the rest.
Recently (and not-so-recently), I wrote about how worry is a waste of energy. And even more recently I wrote (but apparently did not post) that such a statement is axiomatic BS when in the throes of an urgent, emergent, frightening situation. So, as I almost always do, I look at situations from different points of view and arrive at different conclusions, based on the angle of observation. Despite my ambiguous take on worry, I can say this with conviction: worry tends to drain one’s emotional strength and, in turn, one’s physical stamina. For that reason, alone, the emotions attached to challenges to health, whether one’s own or that of someone close, should be kept in check. To the extent possible. But sometimes that is as easy to do as climbing a rope that is nailed to the ground.
So, in conclusion, there times when we must simply “slog through the porridge,” as I am wont to say. And so I shall. Here’s to everyone’s good health. May it last longer than anyone imagined it would.