There's a cure for that


As I've gotten older, I've learned what it's like to lose energy. I thought I lived a relatively active lifestyle because there's always so much to do just maintaining a home. Especially in winter. So this past winter I decided to reduce the small amount of energy that I was expending shoveling a walkway by getting a small electric snow shovel-type device. The only way to properly use one of those things is to manhandle it, even though it has wheels. I found myself picking it up quite a bit, but it did beat lifting wet, heavy snow, and did a better job of clearing the walk than I did with an old fashioned shovel. It helped.

This past winter was tough. I burned wood blocks and wood pellets, which meant that I hauled blocks and bags all winter long. I'm still doing it because here in April up on a windy hill we're still heating. In recent years I've lost muscle mass. I'm getting older, no doubt, but I'm feeling it more and more. I don't like it. I'm actually thinking about switching to some kind of fuel that I don't have to haul.

Here's the thing with aging: Our bodies degrade, while our minds don't get the memo until much later. I suppose eventually your brain starts to age too, and that's when the trouble begins; when you start believing it. I mean, you can go a long way just thinking positively and using your mind to defy your age. However, when the mind becomes unwilling, so does the body.

While this may sound unrelated, be patient. It connects, eventually. I suffer from frequent migraines. My doctor prescribed a really effective medication, but the insurance company only gives me "X" number of pills per month and I needed way more than that. My doctor then prescribed a really powerful medication that has proven effective in reducing the frequency of migraines. It is also an anti-seizure medication. Well, it really works. It also comes with side effects. Butt-kickin' side effects.

My sincere hope is that within a few more weeks I will develop a higher tolerance for the side effects. If not, I'll just consult with my doctor about doing something else, like weaning off that medication. For me, one of the side effects is a feeling of frailty. Like I just aged 25 years kind of frailty. Like my thinking went right along with that feeling. That's the only risky part of it to me.

That was brought home in a couple of conversations with good friends. One friend had actually taken this class of drugs so he had some experience with what I was talking about. Another friend had experience with folks who had adopted a certain mindset that impeded them physically when it didn't really have to. I think part of the deal here is simply mental. I get that. I watch my 85-year-old father defying mind-over-matter every day.

His mind never stops, and his ability to work never stops, either. I've been fortunate to have inherited a big chunk of that from him. Lately, he has figured out how to build a tiled patio at their southern home. It is nearly done. He planned it. He researched the materials, used his iPad to price the job out, sourced the parts of the job he needed to hire out, then did the labor he could do. Knowing him, that won't be his last project. I know of a couple he already has going on.

That's the thing. When your mind has been trained to look for solutions to challenges, it just never stops, unless you are beset with some tragic brain disease. So far we've been blessed in that area. That's why after a few rough weeks on a new medication I am just too stubborn to give up on it. I'm seeing progress. This may slow me down for a bit, but I'm not lettin' it stop me or pile on an extra 25 years of hard livin' that I didn't already do. There's a cure for that and its good ol' bone-headed stubborn determination.

Arlo Mudgett's Morning Almanac has been heard over multiple radio stations in Vermont for nearly 30 years, and can be tuned in at 92.7 WKVT Monday through Saturday mornings at 8:35 a.m. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.



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