Saturday, July 5, 2014

Personal aging complaints and Writers and Posts on Agiing.

      Recently I celebrated a 70th birthday, the beginning of another decade, the 8th decade of my life. Something has happened to me since that 70th birthday. I have been having a lot more difficulty with aches and pains. Given a past personal history of temporal arteritis and polymyalgia rheumatica, both representations of an autoimmune disorder characterized by inflammation of blood vessels, I have difficulty sorting out what pains are to be expected for my age group and what could be a flare of my autoimmune disease. Recently I have gone through at least a minimal workup for other causes of my aching back, burning knees, sore muscles in my thighs and in my upper arms, and disabling stiffness when I try to become active after sitting or lying for a long time. Through a few tests and consults with doctors, I have come to the conclusion that it is not my previous autoimmune disorder. The blood tests for that have continued to be negative. Also a severe onset of neck and upper shoulder pain after overdoing this spring while sawing and clearing some buckthorn in my garden prompted  xrays which showed severe arthritis in my neck. I haven't had other joints xrayed but I had an MRI of my left knee years ago after an injury and there was already degenerative arthritis then in that knee. Putting these facts altogether, and as a doctor recognizing my own symptoms, I am sure that what I am suffering are the aches and pains of degenerative arthritis or osteoarthritis. And those symptoms are now at a level that interferes with my activities. Now I understand what my patients always complained of. What does one do about this? I am sure I am not at a stage that joint replacement should be considered. And the sites of my pains are multiple and can not all be solved by surgery anyway. Even if I had one joint fixed surgically there would be the others that would still be limiting. Facing continuing discomfort of this limiting degree, I need to figure out how to deal with it, how to continue to be active, and what I can do about the discomfort.

     The Internet is a natural place to turn for suggestions on aging from those who are already there. In various magazines such as the AARP quarterly magazine, and others, there are useful articles in this area. There are many new websites and blogs which can be helpful. But there are also some older resources that I have found useful.

     From the AARP magazine from April, 2009 an article tells of various folks writing in a blog about ways to deal with aging problems as well as articles just to help others through difficult times. There follows a couple examples and then a few websites that you might find useful.

     Retired educator Susie Wilson thinks more parents should talk with their children about sex. So the 80-year-old New Jersey resident offers conversation starters -- what to say about the latests philandering public figure, for example -- on her blog, or online journal. Wilson is part of a growing group: nearly 450,000 American 65-plus post their own blogs. And free publishing sites such as and make it easier than ever to get started.

      More and more "mature" people are starting their own blogs in which they are sharing their own wisdom that they have gained through their life experiences. Perhaps you as a reader here might wish to start their own blog on this topic. So what can you write about? Anything. After losing her husband to dementia, Sheila Weinstein, 73, started blogging for to help readers manage their own grief. And whereas younger bloggers may write to gain recognition or a paycheck, older bloggers often want to share their wisdom. "In my own way I am making a difference in the world," Wilson explains. "it is a feeling I never dreamed I would experience.

     Susie Wilson in the past wrote a regular feature for NewJerseyNewsroom 

     She particularly feels compelled to use her wisdom to help young people with their sexual lives, to try to reduce sexually transmitted diseases. She apparently ceased writing for this publication in 2011 but has contributed much to not only her concerns about adolescent sexuality, but also has added her voice of wisdom to other topics of aging.

     Sheila Weinstein, being a writer, and after losing her husband wrote for herself about getting herself out of the funk that this great loss created. After looking at what she had written, she realized that these writing might be helpful to others who have lost their spouse. The resulting book, "Moving to the Center of the Bed: The Artful Creation of a Life Alone." will be of great help for many people who have lose their spouse. Sheila has a blog site dedicated to the same goal:

     Sheila says that she has a poem that she lived by when she started to get over her loss:
          You cannot be given a life by someone else
          Of all the people you know in your lifetime, you are the only one you will never leave or lose
          To the questions of your life, you are the only answer.
          To the problems of your life, you are the only solution.

     Ms. Weinstein's articles on aging and the various life events that we encounter during its last act have mostly been written in Psychology Today, a magazine which is available to lay people but was also sent as a so called "throw away" magazine to we physicians. At the following website, you may find many of Ms. Weinstein's articles.

     Another blog for mature people:

     And yet another:

     As far as the aches and pains of aging go, there are several other sites that give you an idea about what to do to treat and distract you from these chronic pains. Others give ideas about prevention, and treatment. I have listed them below. I have learned that unfortunately it is an activity which I dearly love which is adding to my grief. That is my gardening. You have seen all I have written about my gardening habits in this blog. To lose this activity will be very difficult for me. But it does appear this year that I am paying too high a price for this activity. I will likely have to cut down on the size of the beds that I maintain.

     I have found that water exercise in the form of my Water Aerobics class and then some time in the hot whirlpool afterwards help relieve my aches and pains for a day or two. By the third day I need to go do these activities again. The relief is by no means long lasting but it does give me some respite.

    I know that another contributor has been my recent weight gain. I admit I have put on about 9 pounds. I know as a physician that that much weight can make a dramatic difference in how arthritic structures respond to weight bearing. So it's back on the diet. My hope is that a return to my previous weight or maybe with luck a few more pounds loss can also significantly reduce my aches and pains.

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