I have been paralyzed for 6 years. To brand new injuries, I have been at it awhile. To those who have been in chairs for 30 years, I am just a baby. So, it all depends on your perspective. Some days my body gives its own perspective! As I feel the effects of only 6 years on my 38-year-old body, it does raise questions as to how I will age with paralysis.
One of the first things that hit me as I was in rehab was that I needed to be independent. In the early days, my husband was literally doing everything for me! I was not capable of doing much on my own. As I relearned how to live my new life, my husband hated to watch me struggle so hard to do the simplest of tasks. I told him that he must let me learn to be as independent as possible, because I knew there would come a time – as I aged – that I would need even more help.
I am not anywhere close, I hope, to needing a lot of help. However, I do believe my paralyzed body will age quicker than my able body would have. They say paralysis ages you by about 10 years and I believe that. I do think about my future and I want to plan well.
My goal is not to be a doomsayer! I can’t stand that! But, some things are worth discussing with your loved ones early on so that hard decisions do not have to be made in the emotional moments.
Categories To Consider:
- Personal Care
When I reach a place that I need daily care, my plan is not to use my family. My husband is already 7 years older than me, and will age also. I do not want him to strain his health taking care of me. I also want my children to fully live their lives and not have my daily care to deal with. Of course, I want my family around me and they will be more than happy to help me if I needed them, but for daily care, I will hire a nurse to get me ready each day.
I feel quite sure that Jimmy will live longer than me, but if not, I would love to get a small place near my children (their backyard would be fine) and bring in a nurse for my daily care. Of course, a giant dose of grandkids would make all well in my world.
I thought of this as Jimmy was seeking his new pastorate. We were in a different place in our lives than we were in our first church. I was now disabled. We have never cared about money, but the thought terrified me that if something happened to Jimmy I would not have the energy to work full-time for our family. I prayed very hard that God would lead us to a church that would think of our retirement. God answered that prayer! We have also had help to invest our money so that if Jimmy’s health were taken early that we would still be okay. That has brought tremendous peace of mine to me regarding my disability!
I get told all the time that I better slow down before I wear out! There is some truth in that, I am sure, but I can work right now so I want to. I know there may come a day that I will not be able to be as active as I can be now. I don’t want to look back and think that I wish I would have done more things while I had the strength to do them. I want to look back and say, “Wow! What a ride!”
I try to live my today’s in preparation for my tomorrows. I want to stay busy and full of life now. I can have my slow years to watch tv and twiddle my thumbs. Not now. I have learned that one day can change your life instantly. If there is something that is important, I do not have the luxury to wait until I retire. I want to do whatever I can to help make it happen now. Not because I am impatient but because I do not know what tomorrow holds.
This is a very important category. I am a firm believer that we were created to be relational. Of course, that is to God first. We can find relationships in our spouses, our children, our places of worship, our friends, our neighbors, and our work. As you age, many times those circles get smaller. Spouses can pass away. Children can move off. Our health may keep us from church and community. As our circles get smaller, our loneliness and sadness gets larger. So, how can we combat loneliness?
Some people find that volunteering helps. We have a little old lady who hangs out in our local Wendy’s. She comes to your table, fills your drinks, brings you napkins, cleans up your stuff and just putters around the lobby taking care of people. It brings her the most joy! If your health cannot afford you to work a job, then maybe even a couple of days a week volunteering will help you to still be among people. Hospitals, libraries, churches, voting, and many other places would welcome volunteers!
Some people find joy in owning a pet. Another breathing “something” in your house is such a relief at times. Here is some great advice for those considering a pet to combat loneliness. Giving love and care to an animal can bring much gratification.
Find something that you can do to help replace what you can no longer do. I have no plans to sit alone doing nothing when I have to slow down. My physical body may stop me from going, but it should never stop us from giving.
I know that being paralyzed will make my aging process look different from what I used to think about. I know that my bones are already getting thin. I know that muscles have already atrophied away. I know that pressure sores are more than likely in my future. I know that respiratory issues are scarier because of my weak muscles. I know that my shoulders, elbows and wrists are overused. I know that constant recurring UTI’s are not good. I know all of these things, and I do not know the future. I know that I cannot plan everything.
I do know, however, that thinking through these things and working towards my goals now, helps me keep my focus on what I can do to help in future days.
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