Almost twenty-five years have passed since I sought a fifty-year medical check up to prepare for my next fifty years. I recall telling my doctor, in part seriously and partly in jest, I was planning to live to 100 years of age, so needed to ready myself. Of course, I explained, my intent was to optimize my physical health. I also emphasized quality of life was an important issue, so my mental and spiritual health were also vital components to aid in reaching my goal.
My then general practitioner medical doctor and I had established an ideal patient-doctor relationship by my standards. His approach epitomized to me the mutually interactive collaboration most effective for a doctor to provide optimal patient care, at least with me. When there were serious matters we could be serious, but we laughed a lot other times. His examination’s result confirmed that considering the wear and tear of the first fifty years of life to which my person had been subjected, I was in pretty good condition. My body was probably carrying about twenty pounds more weight than needed but I was confident I could drop that when I made the effort to do so. After all, at forty years I had started bike riding, successfully ridding myself of extra pounds I had kept those years following my childrens birth.
Earlier years when in graduate school I unintentionally caused myself a potentially serious spinal disc problem that with effort I had effectively overcome. During that time there were family stresses with the vagaries of young children becoming teenagers, a dedicated husband coping with professional issues along with the beginnings of his own medical problems, and my additional struggles intertwined with my dear mother’s care, especially after her stroke. In those ensuing years for myself I had regrettably been less attentive to or successful in avoiding the body effects from constant long term distresses that cause unhealthy chemical releases into the system.
Still, I had a naturally positive attitude. I knew relaxation and imaging techniques, but may not have utilized them as much as I needed. I neglected to maintain some sort of exercise regimen, was careless with my eating habits and may have reaped the consequences of too many years of minimal erratic sleep patterns that were continuing even then. Eventually parent caregiving following my mother’s death evolved into increasingly complex spousal coping complicated by my husband’s declining health.
I did take care of myself as much as possible but probably not in as beneficial a way as I might have. When some pressures released I tended to think I deserved to reward myself with periods of unstructured time for having survived years of what seemed like 24/7/365 scheduled routines. So exercise, eating, sleep habits remained unaltered. My doctor of many years died and though my new younger doctor was simultaneously admonishing and supportive as he could be, the relationship was not the same. There was too much history in dealing with me, the whole person, that the new physician would never know, nor given what health care had become would there be time to delve into such factors had I been so inclined, which I was not.
My husband’s unexpected sudden death seemed premature despite his increasing health problems. A few years spent adjusting to that major life change had to pass before I finally began to focus on core life planning for my future. The past year or two I gradually reached the conclusion I needed to get myself into the best condition possible. Coincidentally, at that time various medical issues periodically developed as deterrents. I persisted in viewing these problems as only temporary as I became determined I would eventually initiate my plan.
Just as I concluded I could safely start I experienced what at first seemed another medical delay, but one I was able to turn into a motivating factor. That impetus came from some of my body parts sending me strong, sometimes painful messages. Not only have I been neglectful but the question arose in my mind as to whether I might have waited too long to begin re-invigorating my system physically and just what would be my limits.
Well, I’m convinced now that it’s never too late to begin some sort of physical exercise program. Intellectually, I knew this and had someone asked me I would have told them so. Now I know it in quite a different way from the first hand experience of what I’m learning through a regimen of physical therapy I’m receiving. I have been able to integrate my own plan with those exercises that I’ve been able to implement over the past three months.
Meanwhile, I’ve been hearing media references to increasing belief that future life expectancy may well be extended beyond the current 70+ and 80+ years, especially since more people now are living into the 100’s. Speculation is that future generations may well experience 120 year plus life spans. Such news has given me cause to re-examine my whole life plan. I’ll be sharing here more on what I’m doing on this topic in the future.
So it is that I have concluded I may well have another fifty years ahead of me. I’m not going to fool around when it comes to rectifying some of my shortcomings caring for my mind, body and spirit this next fifty years. I’ve already started with major emphasis on the body, so maybe I’ll make it to 121 years because I’m getting a years head start.