Thankful to be Growing Older

I did not take a day off from gratitude, but I decided to take the day off from blogging yesterday. The reason I took the day off was my hands. They hurt.

I finally managed to avoid gluten for a whole day (after being off the wagon for weeks). And I'm amazed how much better my hands feel today -- even first thing this morning. Gluten increases inflammation in the body and I'm convinced I feel better when I don't eat it, but menus are my Kryptonite! I feel a surge of powerlessness whenever one is put in front of me!

I haven't gone for an official diagnosis, but all the preliminary signs of osteoarthritis are present in my hands. For several years, I've noticed a loss of strength when trying to open a jar. I just thought it was part of normal aging (which is what I blame everything on these days). I've had morning stiffness for a long time. Sometimes my hands feel a little achy. But nothing severe. Just age, I thought.

In the past year, my rings have been harder to get on and off. Just weight gain, I thought. But then I noticed they still fit my fingers fine. It's getting over the knuckle that is causing the problem. My knuckles are growing!

Recently, I noticed a small raised bump on the upper knuckle area of my right middle finger. I pointed it out while getting a manicure and heard the words, "That looks like an arthritis bump." A week later, I noticed another one appearing on my left index finger. So, I started reading about osteoarthritis symptoms and learned that those little bumps are probably bone spurs resulting from a loss of cartilage.

It seems like all of a sudden I'm being constantly reminded I'm getting "up there."

I've had vision changes. At a recent eye exam, my eye doctor informed me I have the very earliest signs of cataracts on both eyes. (Ooooooh, that made me feel so old!) She told me after I made the joke, "Well, at least you don't see any cataracts, do you?" HaHaHa. As if, at least I'm not old enough for that yet!

I had my first bone density screening in October. Since I'm a glass half full kind of person, I was happy that I had osteopenia in only one hip.

It has not been pleasant to hear these words -- osteopenia, cataracts, arthritis -- spoken to me and about me. I associate these words with being elderly. And while I am not even close to being elderly at 56, it's still a reminder that elderly is coming for me if I get to stick around a while longer.

I always have the initial feeling that this shouldn't be happening to me. I've exercised for 25 years and taken care of myself. And I was fortunate in getting some good genes. So I've managed to stay on the young side of my true age. BUT even if I choose to view it as simply a number, my chronological age is a reality. And I must embrace it with gratitude -- including the challenges of growing older.

I am thankful to be alive.
I'm thankful to be growing older. It means I'm still here.

I dedicate this last cartoon to my childhood friend, Ann. We are the guy on the right...


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