My Resolution for the New Year

Maybe going public with my resolution for 2018 will shame me into keeping it, so here it is: I will stop talking about my medical issues, even though doing so will be more painful for me than my wry neck; I love clucking away with friends and family about the latest indignity imposed on my body.

I first noticed an upswing in my interest in discussing bunions and bursitis a few years ago at a party when I joined male and female friends in an animated discussion at a party and realized I used to run from such conversations.

For forty-five minutes, we discussed tinnitus, sciatica, cataracts, arthritis, insomnia, knee replacements and leg cramps. We described symptoms, suggested remedies, and updated one another — “You mean there’s a difference between floaters and flashers?”

The same people who used to chatter about jobs, sports, politics, travel, children, hobbies, and preferred beer had discovered another universal connection.

Why the sudden interest in high blood pressure? It’s not like my friends and I had never been sick. We’d endured a variety of ills our entire lives, but we hadn’t felt compelled to share them with all the fishes in the sea.

Like most people, I was born into a pinball machine of childhood illnesses, bumped around by colds, mumps, measles, chickenpox and sore throats. My siblings and I suffered earaches, stomachaches, runny noses, pink eye and the flu. We worried about tonsillitis, because it could lead to a tonsillectomy and polio because it lurked in the background of every day we lived.

We were quarantined to our rooms and confined to our beds. We whined, complained of boredom, begged for drinks of water and hoped nausea didn’t force us to use the bucket placed beside our beds.

We sweated under mustard plasters, soaked in Epsom salts, and scratched our red spots when our mother wasn’t looking. At the height of the polio scare, we were barred from swimming in public pools and dragged to Provo to take part in a blind test of the promising vaccine named after a Dr. Salk.

At one point, to cure my chronic sinus congestions and colds, the doctor told Mom to make me put on a hat or scarf when outside, wear a stocking cap to bed on cold nights, and forego sugary treats; so while my siblings ate lemon meringue pie and made fun of my night cap, I blew my nose and ate a banana.

I don’t remember inflicting the details of these ailments on others. I would never have introduced my hangnail-infected big toe into a late night conversation with my college roommates or my impacted wisdom teeth into the lunchroom buzz in the faculty lounge.

Now, however, Joel and I consider a day poorly spent if we don’t devote several minutes of conversation to the soundness of our sleep and the status of our nagging issues. At family reunions, my siblings and I provide health updates to a sympathetic chorus of sighs and advice: “Don’t waste your time trying to wish your sciatica into oblivion. You need physical therapy.”

I admire my sister-in-law from my first marriage, a professional woman and involved grandmother with wit, intelligence and frightening health issues that would allow her to dominate any discussion. But she doesn’t mention them. Ever. When directly asked by those who love her, she responds simply and briefly and then gracefully changes the topic to grandchildren, pets or politics.

Thus, my resolution for 2018: I will stop pouring a description of my latest symptoms into every available ear.

But I don’t promise to stop writing about them.

 

 

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78 thoughts on “My Resolution for the New Year

  1. My next-door neighbor, and friend, who is my age, said not long ago that it makes her feel better to talk about her health problems. I get that. It’s kind of true for me, too. I also think that we’re all (maybe?) kind of surprised to find ourselves “up in years” and that is confirmed by all this incomprehensible stuff happening to our bodies. I sense a tone of perplexity in a lot of the health conversations. 😦 My other neighbor and friend, who is 11 years older, never mentions anything. I find I’m pretty OK with either.

    I know you know what I’m struggling with, and now that I know what it is, I honestly don’t want to talk about it. I just want it to go away. I got a wonderful new hiking cane and keep riding the Airdyne bicycle and, for the most part, the symptoms have gone away. In a way, all these health problems feel, to me, like a prison. They are a prison. The only thing I want is for people to understand what’s going on and to accept my limitations without limiting me more. Sometimes I struggle to walk (especially up and down stairs) and then friends will try to see that I don’t have to walk. I don’t mind my struggle. I don’t want them to mind it, either. That’s pretty hard to arrange.

    I have a friend who’s very arthritic and also suffers from early-onset macular degeneration. He WON’T walk with a cane but the guy can barely walk. The reason he won’t walk with a cane is because he doesn’t want to be seen as a cripple. If he COULD see how he walks, he’d realize that cane or no cane, he’s pretty messed up. 😀

    I don’t know. I think NOT talking about it helps it retreat into the background of our lives which is maybe where it should be except when we’re directly dealing with it. Good luck with your resolution. I, personally, think it’s a good one.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I value your opinion, Martha, so I will strive mightily to keep this resolution, which I broke this morning over coffee with my husband; so I immediately excluded him from my resolution, which I should have done to start with. I understand what you mean about folks trying to spare you the struggle when you don’t mind the struggle. I’ve been in that situation with my groin pull; if I struggle up the first few steps or take the first few steps, the pain eases, so its worth the struggle. I’m glad to hear your symptoms have gone away; and, remember I didn’t say I wouldn’t write about ailments, so you and I can air our grievances to one another whenever the notion to do so strikes us.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Thank you for increasing the general level of conversation! 🙂 I have a sister who likes to discuss her own and others’ health (as well as medical procedures) in exhausting detail. I can feel my energy drain the moment she begins . . .

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I admire your resolution. My grandmother, a devout Christian Scientist, rarely named any illness from which she was obviously suffering. In her mind, naming it gave it power. She would only say she was “a bit under the weather.” Maybe she had a point.
    I wish you good health in 2018 and beyond.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Lorie, that’s a wonderful wish for the new year. I wish the same for you. I had a great aunt who was always “a bit under the weather,” and my great uncle who was married to her was always overworked.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sympathetic siblings and a sharing spouse … you’re a lucky woman to have listeners willing to discuss a new diagnosis and symptoms.
    Before complaining I try to remember the saying “fifty percent of people don’t care and the other half think you have it coming”.
    My audible groans when I try to rise from a deep, soft, low sofa speak for me. Words aren’t needed when, unsuccessful, I flop back down. I hate that.
    Janet, I hope in 2018 you have little to nothing to complain about. Happy New Year.

    Liked by 2 people

    • And I hope you, my dear friend, have few health complaints and sit in few low, soft couches. I can’t remember exactly when I started scanning every room I enter, looking for the easiest seat to exit, but I habitually do so. I do love the saying you shared. I wish I’d known it when I was writing the blog. I’m sure I’ll use it sometime in the future.

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  5. Keep writing about your health. Your post was hilarious. I see myself in many of the things you wrote about. As I get older, sometimes the only things to talk about besides work, and my grandchild, is my health. The days of discussing marathons run, mountains climbed, ski slopes conquered, and late nights having fun are sadly over.

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    • Oh, but they were grand days, weren’t they, Patrick? And having enjoyed them does make it a wee bit easier to put up with the physical indignities of aging. Also, I love hearing about people’s work, grandchildren, and even their health if they don’t yammer on and on about it as I’ve been known to do.

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  6. This is wonderful, Janet. It’s true, as soon as you joint the ailment club, it’s hard not to talk about it. Maybe we need friends and siblings to make fun of us, that seemed to do the trick in the old days. Now, what rhymes with ‘sciatica’ ?

    Whatever conditions you might suffer from, loss of sense of humor isn’t among the symptoms.

    Happy New Year.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Whether it be a pain in the neck or a pita, your sense of humor is always entertaining, enlightening and elegant (maybe that’s a stretch). Meal time conversations these days are nothing like the old days but sometimes we just gotta know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, indeed, your kind compliment was a bit of a stretch. I’m afraid my sense of humor is not always elegant. Blame it on my siblings. They used to encourage my forays into lowbrow laughs. And, you’re also correct that there is nothing wrong about airing our health issues to those who “just gotta know!”

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  8. I started writing “you are SO right” about health issues never being THE topic, but then I recalled commiserating about menstrual cramps, discussing pregnancy issues (including some rather gory details) during my younger days. Still, those conversations were briefer and fewer.

    I love that you shared your resolution with all your blog buddies. I think I am going to emulate you — great resolution!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Chuckle. Talking about them and writing about them are two different things. Your article resonated with me. It’s the first conversation with friends. I’m bored with my own health issues and don’t want to hear about them–even from me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • i think my resolution flowed from that same boredom, Laurel. I finally realized I was tired of talking about my woes, most of which flow from the natural process of aging. Then I wondered, “If I’m boring myself, what am I doing to others?”

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I have found that family and friends soon turned off my dietary woes with my diabetes. I do need to think about what I eat, and the details of the effects of what I eat. But I am the only one affected by all this. I have to think about whether other people really need or want to know.

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  11. I enjoyed your blog today Janet. It really is hard not to discuss what ails us as everyday it seems a new ache or pain comes into our lives. Have a wonderful New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right, Janice, and, lately, it seems like new aches and pains are coming along more regularly! thanks for your new year wish, and I hope your i everything you and JL would want it to be as well.

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  12. Haha to your last line. I hope you won’t feel out of the loop or the club when all your friends are talking about their health, however, since it seems the thing to do. I was just thinking recently about the polio scare and how that must’ve been awful for kids and parents back then. Just found out my dad had it! But, as a kid, he recovered fairly easily. Just two weeks off school, he said. Glad to know it wasn’t always the life-sentence I thought it was. I also learned that many kids died from that vaccine. :/

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    • I chuckled at your sentence, “Needless to say, I didn’t or I’d have had a list of maladies of my own,” and I admire you for deciding to never complain and following through. That takes will power and determination.

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  13. Wonderful post Janet! I’ve noticed lately how aches, pains, and illnesses have infected the conversations with my old friends. I think we all need to spend more time in our “happy places”.

    I loved the pinball machine metaphor!

    Wishing you a happy and healthy 2018!

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    • Maladies do seem to creep into conversations with friends and loved ones as we age; I don’t mind when it’s a conversation rather than one or two people talking nonstop about their rash or high blood pressure. And I would hate to be that person; thus, my resolution. I hope you and Tim will be healthy and happy in the new year.

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  14. Like most people, I was born into a pinball machine of childhood illnesses, bumped around by colds, mumps, measles, chickenpox and sore throats.

    Love it! Totally saw your childhood illnesses “bumping around”……

    Add to your list of discussions…..Momma Bs “regularity issues”……Every day, I (gratefully) listen to her “regularity issues” or lack there off.

    Not an issue with me, though. So, “whine away”, Buddy. I’ll listen any time you wanna whine…. ;>)

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    • ‘Tis true that regularity issues aren’t often aired in social settings, but your momma is a different matter, and I like it that you listen “gratefully” to her detail them; you are so fortunate to still have here. And, yes, you for sure will be excepted from my resolution to not whine. We should close on a house tomorrow; then we have to furnish and fill it with the essentials like dishes, laundry detergent, bedding, etc. Always before, I’ve moved all that stuff from my previous house or apartment. Not now. I’ll let you know when I have breathing room.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. To tell you the truth, Janet, I’d rather hear about bunions and high blood pressure than the endless praises of children and grandchildren. Isn’t that I don’t want to tell anything about the children but the showing off of how pretty or smart the kids are is annoying to me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Actually, I’m with you, Glynis, and I rarely talk about my grandchildren, though I think they are remarkable, except with a few close friends who ask. I try to avoid the topic in general because so many people do monopolize conversations by going on and on about their seemingly perfect grandchildren.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I got my job because an old gent came in the store one Monday morning with a ziplock bag of feces, and asked my predecessor if it looked normal..my predecessor fled in horror…Health Food indeed.

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      • I would have fled as well. And as for the old gent, I don’t know whether to feel sorry for his lack of social skills and/or family members or a doctor to talk to or to think he was a creep, who got his jollies from shocking others. What do you think?

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  16. Dear Auntie- try the “Health food” shop for to hear people moaning, ooh my brain, fish oil, prostate, noxious weed teas. Our childhood was also shadowed by Polio- I once had to wear garlic round my neck, sleep in red flannel socks for a year, beware the barf bucket after gorging on raspberries, and endure “Dr Fowlers Extract of Wild Strawberry”- with a picture of The Doctor gagging on the label. Boils are a good way to pass time in a slow checkout line- send people fleeing back to produce. I do not mind hearing of your aches and ills.

    Liked by 2 people

    • As I wrote this post, Sheila, I knew you would be able to comment on it in your usual hilarious style, and you didn’t disappoint. I particularly enjoyed Dr. Fowler gagging on the label of his snake oil. Also, I’ll remember the hint about boils and use it when necessary.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. When I was a mother with young children, I made a conscious effort not to go on and on about the nitty gritty and often icky details of life with them. And when they grew older, I made sure I didn’t spend too much time waxing lyrical about their exploits (although I personally found them rather entertaining).

    It is supremely more difficult to refrain from launching into a conversation about failing eyesight, aching feet and the various ills that require dietary abstinence. Perhaps it is because it is all about me (and not the children). Or maybe misery loves company (getting together with folks who are aching and paining as well). Or it could be that I am less careful about not inflicting ennui on others at this point in my life.

    Whatever it is, I think your resolution is one worth emulating. And so, I will attempt to do so. Maybe this will result in the litany of aches & pains being recited a great deal less often if I didn’t try.

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  18. Your post is so pertinent to me today, Janet. I relate so well to your subject matter. Having suffered myself, I don’t appreciate being made to feel guilty by a rather pathetic acquaintance who moans on Facebook, so I had to not follow!! Your posts are not only informative but always entertaining! Please feel free to let your woes hang out, there are those of us who really relate!! I don’t feel guilty that I haven’t popped in, since you’re on the other side of the world. Your writing inspires me to do better. ❤ Barbara

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, how I love hearing from you, Barbara. Thank you for popping in from the other side of the world. And thank you for saying I should continue to write about my woes. Strangely, I feel comfortable confessing my follies, failings, and health issues with my blog audience because I sense my readers are as imperfectly human as I am.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I have done something my mother would never have done. I wrote to the needy individual mentioned above and informed her that I no longer want to feel guilty about not paying sufficient attention. Having read some Elizabeth Gilbert on truthfulness, I took her advice. What a relief!!
    I feel like a very naughty girl having taken this step. I’m sure others are less direct, but I am feeling too old to play games. Writing can be very therapeutic!! I do love hearing about your life stories as we share so much, though I’m sure you’re not as selfish as I’ve become. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think your action was commendable and well done. Your explanation that you felt guilty about not paying close attention is logical, true, and cushioned and gentle rather than meanly hurtful. How good you must have felt. And we continue to share. because I, too, feel too old to suffer fools gladly, as my mom would have said, and I am increasingly selfish about my time.

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  20. Hi Aunt Beulah
    We are only just over two weeks into the New Year of 2018.
    I have already had 5 doctors appointments, all had nothing but concerning news for me. I can already see that 2018 is going to be very trying in terms of my health. I want to be like your sister-in-law and keep it all under my hat. Just when I had found some ease amid pain and surgeries, anxiety it seems that whoever sends these things to test us has decided I still need to sit a few more tests yet before I get a pass.
    I am going to try hard to keep mum about my health woes, speak and write positively, laugh more, live life to the max and give all I got in me to my family and loved ones.
    Reading your stories are always a treat Aunt Beulah, I truly love everything about the way you tell a story.
    Keep them coming and although I am with you all the way on your resolution for the New Year, I agree not to whine re my health, nevertheless I can’t promise not to write about it.
    I have been thinking about you in all that snow, pictures coming to us via our newscasts look surreal. Water freezing mid flow, cars and homes and people buried in snow, trying to keep ploughing your way out is just unbelievable. We are melting under a burning Sun and humidity at 95% in the shade is such a contrast.
    Take care dear friend, love to you and Joel from Pete and I.
    Big hugs heading your way from
    Annie in Australia 🌴🌞🌊❤❤❤❤❤❤❤
    P.S…pop into my blog site Aunt Beulah, I have been idle for so long I am wondering if you can still access it. Lucie found it a bit cranky when she tried. I have tweaked a few things and hope I am up and running again. 🤔😕☺❤❤❤

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  21. Oh, dear Annie, I think we should put on our brave, keep-our-woes-to-ourselves faces with the public at large, but should feel free to unburden ourselves to our special people, like you are to me. It can be such a relief to be able to express ourselves openly and honestly to a select few who we know will understand. I know Lucie helped you get through your last difficult time; and I would like to be part of your health issues anytime you choose to share. Of course, lovely lady, I’ll also honor your decision to not share where you would rather not.. I know there are times when I need to talk about my health and times I would rather not.

    I love your paragraph, “I am going to try hard to keep mum about my health woes, speak and write positively, laugh more, live life to the max and give all I got in me to my family and loved ones,” because it sounds like the radiant, positive person I know you to be. I’m going to try to do the same, but let’s promise to communicate with one another when we are not doing so well if we think it might help.

    I have been having trouble accessing your blog. I tried it again just now, and couldn’t get there. I’ve been having trouble with a couple of others and think it might be something going on with my computer. I’m going to have my techie, Joel, take a look.

    We are spending two months in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where most days are in the seventies, so I, too, am looking at the snowbound and being horrified why what they are going through and happy we’re here. But thanks for thinking of me.

    Love to you and Pete from my techie and me. You made my day. I love, love, love hearing from you, Annie.

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