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Thread: Ageing & Identity

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    Senior Member SiouzQ.'s Avatar
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    Ageing & Identity

    After reading the other thread about ageing, I realized a few things in the past few days when I went on a little camping trip down to Silver City. As some of you long-timers know, for all these years I literally LIVED for the escape my camping road trips gave me. I'd escape Michigan, escape the problems with my daughter, I'd get to be athletic and kick-ass cool and hike and be adventurous.

    Now that I live out west, I don't get quite the same feeling of "escaping my life" because I can escape on any given day I want practically because I am living the life I always dreamed about when I was stuck in the Mid-West all those years. But as many of you know, I have had a helluva a year with grief and a bunch of medical problems. I am more out of shape than ever, have gained weight, have daily pain, etc, etc and it makes me feel OLD (I am inching closer to 58).

    Anyway, I took a camping trip down to Silver City because I am performing a "ritual quest" in spreading my daughter's ashes in particular places that had meaning for both of us, or meaningful to me right now. I have always, ALWAYS been a tent camper, prided myself on it and built a whole identity about being a strong, capable woman who goes off on her own, driving where ever I fee like, doing whatever I feel like, etc. Well, I am having a hard time admitting to myself that tent camping is, hmmmmmm, just not as enjoyable as it used to be. My knees, hips and pelvis give me trouble crawling in and out of my little tent, it was hard to pound in the tent stakes due to my wrist problems, the Thermarest sleeping pad is absolutely NOT going to work for me anymore going forward; I couldn't sleep I was so uncomfortable. I couldn't sleep on either side due to this chronic gluteus medius and IT band pain I have had all year which no medical professional seems to be able to help me with. I am still having problems with my surgery from last January, so taking care of myself while on the road was a bit harder than being at home. Hiking through and among the rock formations at City of Rocks State Park wore me out!

    But in spite of all that, I am glad I did the quick trip, but dismayed about how much work it was and how much it tired me out. Then I start wondering, is this unfortunate stage I am struggling through in life the beginning of the entropy we all know is going to happen, or is it a very long aberration that I will somehow, someday crawl out of given enough time? On paper I am not THAT OLD! It's just that my body feels much older than 57; it's what I would have expected feeling like at 70 or something....

    This whole year is trying to teach me some lessons about massive changes and most of it is really hard to accept yet.

  2. #2
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    So glad you were able to make the trip and honor your daughter’s memory. I had to give up hiking 10 years ago at 55 due to health issues. The last time I tent camped was 5 years ago and the last. Now we take our RV. No doubt about it aging has brought change.

  3. #3
    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    People who get to be old and spry are very fortunate; even if they think it was some kind of accomplishment. I can certainly commiserate with you.

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    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    I can understand the feeling of freedom when camping with a tent. I did it for years when leading Girl Guides as well. I finally decided that I had had enough scrambling around - when getting out of the tent became more effort than fun, more responsibility and planning than enjoyment . Now when I travel on long or short outings I want to be taken care of. Someone else can worry about traffic, preparing food, securing accommodation etc. Cannot remember when this change took place but once I had a taste of being catered to, I was sold on the idea.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

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    The older Colorado women in my book club were talking about how tent camping is no longer something they have any desire to do. The two that I can remember doing were miserable - one was soaking rain and the other temps so cold I had to put campfire-heated rocks in socks to keep my feet from freezing.

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    Senior Member bae's Avatar
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    I've been in test-anxiety mode the past month.

    Today was our mandatory agility/fitness/stress/skills test day at the fire department.

    The rule is: you can continue in your specialities if you can pass the tests, which are done twice a year, you need to pass at least once a year.

    They take about a quart of blood two weeks before this, to look for any blood-results that may be problematic, of course, you don't find out until today how you did on the bloodwork.

    I've been busting my ass exercising, eating healthy, practicing for about two months for this.

    Today they take my vitals before the physical part of the test. My blood pressure and heart rate are high, as usual, as I have test and white coat anxiety. No worries....

    Then I suit up with 80 pounds of gear, and turn on the air - for my specialties, the test is done in full firefighting gear, wearing an airpack, and done on-air, and you carry tools. This part of the test only takes 20 minutes, on average. Our air bottles are rated for 45 minutes of "normal" breathing, 22-ish minutes doing this kind of work.

    The person helping me suit up dropped a mostly-empty bottle on me, and since we weren't following the normal gear-up protocols, and I was fixated on the test, I didn't check.

    1 minute into the test, my low-air indicator kicked in, and the loud alarm goes off..... Which means you have 5 mins of air left doing "real work"....

    Now, I've tested myself before, and I know to a moral certainty that I can get 15-ish minutes once the alarm goes off, if I use the mindful-breathing, and paced-working techniques I train in for the really hardcore rescue work, and don't do much in the way of high-exertion work.... This test is high-exertion by design.... Hmmmm......

    The test supervisor says "you can restart, no worries..." I said, very carefully and calmly: "let's see if I can do it..."

    I did the 20 minute course in 9 minutes, moving from my point of view excruciatingly carefully and slowly, and barely breathing. I ran completely out of air right as I crossed the finish line and was unsuiting. I beat 80% of the department on time...

    My vitals were *lower* at the end of the test, and during the test, than they were before I started it.

    The supervising doctor, looking at the heart monitor, said "were you just....sleeping....during the exercise?"

    Bottom line: experience, skill, mindfullness, and treachery make up for being old :-)

  7. #7
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    Great story.

    I like to think that my brain is increasingly awesome from 22 years of nursing experience and it more than makes up for lack of youthful energy.

  8. #8
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    And then there is the love song of an old man...

    James Taylor wrote "Mean Old Man":

    … So who gets a second chance?
    Who gets to have some fun?
    Who gets to learn to dance
    Before his race is run?
    Who gets to shed his skin?
    Who comes up born again?
    Who was a mean old man,
    'Til you turned him into a golden retriever puppy dog?



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GVwcSYLdSs

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    Bae, I am in awe of what you do!!! Bravo! I never was a camper-quit girl scouts because of the camping...not even Day Camp appealed to me-smoke, outhouses, half cooked food....bugs, poison ivy, bugs. I admire people who do it and better yet, enjoy it. My friend is doing her first 2 night overnight on the Appalachian Trail next week. She's been hiking for about 5 years, has done all of PA, MD and WV- working on Virginia now, thus the overnight test. But, I notice i do NOT have the stamina to do household jobs, painting, gardening that I used to have. Luckily I'm retired so can take my time...an hour or so at a time rather than all day. Move 1/2 bag of mulch at a time, not the whole bag. It's frustrating, but I am getting calm with it!

  10. #10
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    SiouzQ, I am glad you are able to do your ritual quest. However you travel, it is good to do it. Treat yourself well! Pain is exhausting, grief is exhausting and change is difficult. Healing thoughts are coming your way from Maryland.

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