My love, Luis, had been suffering from that virus, flu or flu-like whatever that a lot of people have been getting this winter. He is my age and recalls being felled by illness only once in his life when he had acute appendicitis. He exercises, eats right, is very involved with his children and is active from dawn to midnight. He is always coming up with strategies for what he calls living well in our 70's. (Sadly, it includes exercise which is not in my vocabulary. I do yoga already. I protest to him. Is that not enough? He urges me to swim and walk and bike.)
That this flu-like illness would render him at 50 per cent activity is truly unacceptable to him. And now he has a slow heart rate which precludes him from driving until the doctors can make a definitive treatment plan. These last two weeks of his body saying, "Wait a minute. I need to slow down for a moment" is just really difficult for him.
I ask myself. What happens when denial no longer works for the aging body? It gives Luis and I pause. Dying is no big deal. It is continuing to live a full life in the face of the limitations of a body that has lived too long that requires some thought and preparation. I am thankful that my children , indulge my independence and have not seen fit to take over my life. I plan to live the rest of my life with purpose and meaning even when I must inevitably accept limitations.
In 2007, Atul Gawande, published an article titled , Rethinking Old Age in the New York Times, where he is a regular contributor. Next to my son-in-law, Alex Tizon, Dr. Gawande is my favorite writer and story teller. I have been rereading this article lately. It is as timely now as when he wrote it 8 years ago. I highly recommend it for anyone who hopes to grow old....someday.