So... what does one do with "retirement"? One joins the gym, of course! In my quest to remain physically fit and agile in older age, I decided that stretching would be a good idea. I think "limber" is the word that comes to mind when I imagine how I want to feel as an older person. The day before school let out, I joined the Y. They handed me a calendar of activities which I excitedly perused. I saw several limbering type classes that were just right for me. With names like, "Gentle Yoga" and "Body Flow" I had hit the mark. I steered clear of class titles that contained words such as, "Power and Pump". I was not planning to power or pump anything.
I bought a pair of yoga pants, dusted off my yoga mat and joined in! The classes were wonderful! After three classes I could already feel my body stretching and strengthening. I modified some of the moves in consideration of my sore hip but even that was feeling better and better. I felt like I was coming back into my younger self and retirement was feeling pretty good! Until one night when I woke up to one of my worst nightmares. Vertigo.
There's a common form of vertigo called, Benign Positional Proxismal Vertigo" or BPPV. I've had it for twenty years and there are ways to manage episodes of it when it flares up. It's purely a mechanical, vestibular canal problem and it's easily fixed with a head maneuver done by a physical therapist or at home by yourself when you've learned the proper technique. Even mild vertigo is disconcerting and it's difficult to function normally during an episode of it. However, I woke up last Tuesday night with THE worst vertigo I never imagined could exist. All of my senses quit functioning and I was unable to even speak. The room spun so violently that all I could do was land on the floor and be ill in the bathroom until Steve and Tess carried me to the car and off to the E.R. It was a nightmare. At the hospital they quickly rolled me into a cubicle and started an IV with anti-nausea meds and Valium. I knew I was improving when I was able to form sentences again and answer questions. I remember laying my head back on the raised hospital bed and falling into a heavenly rest. The violent spinning lasted for over an hour. It should have lasted only thirty seconds. The memory of that night is difficult to forget.
A week has gone by now and I have almost all of my balance back. Higher thinking is still difficult along with many little things like typing on the computer, bending over, reaching up, etc. I'm waiting for an appointment with a balance doctor in Charlottesville which is slow coming. I think what troubles me the most is that I have limitations. Limitations make me frustrated and very sad. Many of my friends have limitations of various sorts and I have been thinking of them and empathizing with what their day-to-day lives must be like. These same friends are also an encouragement to me because they are strong, happy, vibrant people in spite of their limitations.
My vertigo should eventually go away. But, I will not be joining the yoga class anymore. Instead, I will hit the treadmill, the bicycles, and perhaps try the water aerobics. I also saw a class titled, "Zumba Gold". With a word like "gold" in it, it must be for me, right?!