Genesis 15:15 - You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age.
Age. Here I go, talking about reaching a number that most people might cringe on turning. Say you’re forty-nine and you’re dreading becoming fifty.
Your mind tells you to do one thing, but your body says, “Hold on! I can’t do that anymore. Don’t you know my body is tired and sick?” But we don’t want to listen to that one. So off we go putting our body in drive and doing the task no matter how much our body is screaming to stop.
How do we adjust to chronic pain getting older? Do we give up and just stay in our recliner all day? No. We look for things that we still can do and we ask for some help with a task we no longer can do.
Is it really that bad that we can’t do things that we used to be able to do? I don’t think it has to be. We just need to look for the positive things we can do.
We can put our best foot forward each day.
We can make sure we get enough sleep and eat healthy.
We can still believe that we can make a difference in someone else’s life by grasping a hold of striving to be a grateful person not a person who is always angry at the world.
Did you catch the words, “It’s okay sometimes”? I believe this is one of the keys to finding your way down the chronic health condition path as you age. It’s okay to feel what you feel, but it’s not okay to stay there.
How do we keep the right attitude when facing a long-term health condition as we age? Psychologytoday.com posts the article, “Chronic Pain, Aging, and Staying Healthy.” The article discusses how a change in pain reception affects pain as you age, how age affects your general health and ways to deal with declining health while living with chronic pain.
It is difficult, as we age, to cope with our minds telling us to do one thing, and our body says another. Not being able to do what we want to do can bring down our spirits and cause us to feel guilty about what our hearts feel. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
We can make an effort to change our attitude about aging just as the Bible verse above states. This verse was speaking of one of the kings who lived during Bible times and his death. It says that the king was buried, “at a good old age.” The verse doesn’t say, “a bad old age,” but a good one. When thinking about getting older, try to remember that it doesn’t have to be all negative. We can find good in it even if we do have a chronic health issue.
Isaiah 21:3 - At this my body is racked with pain, pangs seize me, like those of a woman in labor; I am staggered by what I hear, I am bewildered by what I see.
You turn your neck and, “Ouch! That hurts!” A pain in the neck can signal that something is wrong that needs to be addressed.
The cause of cervical pain can simply be the way you slept the night before. Sometimes it’s caused by your pillow and you may find purchasing a new one remedies the problem. There are many choices in pillows and they can be specifically designed to fit the contour of your neck thus erasing the problem.
Other times it’s your mattress that’s the culprit; if your mattress is no longer supporting your body properly it may be that it’s time to trade it in for a new one. There are a variety of mattresses. You can purchase a standard mattress or you can choose one such as those made of memory foam or having magnets scattered throughout the mattress.
Another cause for neck aches can be you may have strained your neck. Perhaps the muscles are too tight caused by stress in your life. Other times it may be due to an injury or overuse. A trip for physical therapy or a massage may help remedy this kind of neck pain.
But other times it can be that there is damage to the spine. Compressed or herniated discs can cause the most pain and may mean a trip to your doctor to confirm what has happened. In this case, you may be prescribed a prescription medication for pain or as in the case of a strained neck your doctor may send you also for physical therapy. In the worst cases, you may need to have surgery to repair the damage.
Take a look at the article on medicinenet.com titled, “Neck Pain (Cervical Pain),” which lists the symptoms, causes and treatment of neck pain. I have listed some of them above, others are discussed in this article such as degenerative disc disease and whiplash. Some of the treatments discussed are local injections of cortisone or anesthetics, as well as exercises and stretches.
In the Bible verse above it talks about how the writer’s body was raked in pain and it was like a woman in labor. Chronic neck pain untreated can leave us at our wits end. It is then that we must seek out God for wisdom as to when we should see a doctor and which treatments might be chosen. God cares about your neck and all of the pain you experience. You only need to ask for his help and he will freely give it.
Isaiah 38:16 - Lord, by such things people live; and my spirit finds life in them too. You restored me to health and let me live.
Here we go again.
You clutch your jaw and let out a small moan. Your jaw throbs to the beat of your aching tooth. It seems you may be losing another tooth.
Having cavities is one thing if you have dental insurance. You can make an appointment with your dentist and have the tooth fixed. But if you don’t have insurance or have a minimal plan, you may not have the money to get it fixed. And so the only option you have is to get the tooth removed and once again another tooth is lost.
Teeth are an important part of our overall health.
But most of all, problems with your teeth can affect your health. Mayoclinic.org has posted an article titled, “Oral Health – A Window to Your Overall Health,” and links oral health to diseases such as Endocarditis and cardiovascular disease.
Happytoothnc.com provides little known suggestions on how we can improve our oral health in their article,"9 Little-Known Tips to Improve Your Dental Health," such as getting a new handle on things by brushing your teeth at a 45-degree angle and giving your tongue some attention.
And as the Bible verse above says, God can restore your health, and we can help that restoration by taking better care of our dental health.
Isaiah 46:4 - Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
They say that what used to be old, no longer is. You know, the new thirty is forty or the new fifty is sixty.
As new cosmetic products, vitamin regimes and exercise methods come out they’re all trying to make you look younger. Sometimes it really does look like the right steps do make an impact on how you look as you age.
But looks aren’t everything.
Our age has affects on our body whether we like it or not. Our bones become thinner. Our blood sugar changes. Our heart may not work right. Our muscles may atrophy.
This is especially true for those who battle a chronic health issue. It doesn’t matter how old you are, when you use a cane or a walker for balance, you’re going to look old at first glance.
We must have realistic goals for our lives in order to age gracefully with pain. A lot of it depends on our attitude. If we think we look older than our years, then we probably do.
Sometimes it may not be possible to smile and look happier when you’re in a high pain day, but when you aren’t try to put your best foot forward and put a little swing in your step. Not only will you feel better, you’ll find yourself looking younger.
And that’s where sometimes we run up against a road block – how we feel. With the real limitations that pain puts on our bodies, we may feel like we are useless and stop caring about what we look like.
After all, you’re aging faster because your body is deteriorating, so why even try to look younger?
But you see, it is important to feel younger, to feel valuable. That extra swing in your step can get you out the door and to your next physical therapy appointment. It may also help give you hidden energy which can help you brave going for a visit to see family and friends.
But is there a way to look and feel younger as you age with pain? A lot of the problem is our perception of ourselves. If we can embrace who we are, chronic pain and all, we’ll have a better chance of improving our body image.
Wikihow.com has an article titled, “How to Improve Body Image When You Have Chronic Pain,” such as embracing how you look instead of thinking you’re less of a person because you battle a chronic health condition, and stop developing unrealistic standards.
So you see, we don’t have to needlessly worry about aging. God has promised, in the Bible verse above, that even when we are old and have gray hair God will sustain us. He will carry us through all the years of our lives, and especially if we battle a chronic health condition God is right there with us.
Psalm 46:5 - God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
There are things in life that you don’t have much control over – serious illnesses such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, strep throat just to name a few. Thankfully there are medications that can help each of these issues, especially when you had no control over getting them in the first place.
There are other medical issues that you can control and sometimes even eliminate. Take for example catching the flu. It is hard to protect yourself during flu season but there are things that you can do to avoid getting sick such as improving you immune system by eating foods high in vitamin C, getting enough sleep, and even exercising.
And there is another – Falling. Sometimes we can’t prevent a fall, but we can know what to do as you’re falling to prevent injury to your body.
But no matter how you try sometimes a fall happens. Is there something more you can do to make a fall less traumatic to the body? Yes, there is.
Smartcellsusa.com has an article on their website entitled, “How-to Fall Safely to Reduce Fall Related Injuries,” which provides suggestions you can take to reduce your injuries, such as how to safely fall forward, sideways and backwards. Then instead of falling and breaking your arm or leg, you will break your fall.
Remember that God is with you as you start to fall and if you fall. He will safely guard you so that you don’t fall or at least not as often.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.