This morning, I am sitting in the hospital waiting room while my mother undergoes spinal surgery in a pristine, state-of-the-art operating room two floors away. In the weeks and months leading up to this moment, both of us have experienced all of our emotions, although not necessarily the same ones at the same time. Working out in the gym and swimming has been a wonderful release for me and, yet, I’m feeling worn down.
Once I wrestled permission to schedule consultations and organize post-surgery care, I experienced moments of gratitude and calm, grateful for my ability to navigate a broken, backlogged healthcare system with aplomb. As my mother’s pain grew in magnitude, increasing over the weeks from “horrible all the time” to “excruciating and unbearable,” surgery became the only option. I was shocked when I was told that one surgeon could operate on my mother in late April while another one suggested an opening in November. I felt that we won the lottery when I snagged a January 23 consultation with a top doctor with surgery 13 days later.
One of the most difficult components of caring for a loved one during challenging medical setbacks is to maintain one’s vitality or energy instead of ingesting a sense of dread, exhaustion, and overwhelm. While speaking with my closest friends and chosen family members, we shared our experiences in the dance of being an adult child of an older adult, recognizing all of the considerable pulls and tugs as we oscillated between the roles of loving daughter and chief wellness officer. When lack of sleep and strong medication was part of my mom’s daily grind, it was even more important to up my self-care practice. Underneath it all, I recognize that I am perfectly imperfect and that we are simply doing the best we can to navigate a difficult time.
While sitting in the waiting room I’ll be reading Becca Levy’s book Breaking the Age Code: How Your Beliefs About Aging Determine How Long and Well You Live. Her findings show that age beliefs benefit the aging process including gene expression which can add 7.5 years to one’s life. Perhaps this will convince me that I can improve my pro-aging mindset to walk into the coming decades armed with resilience, acceptance, and courage.
I’m sending you strength and love.
Soaringwords is the power to heal.