Contemplating the Last Third of One’s Life

Sleepily perusing a blog post I read, “Think about when you’ve been happiest in your life”. The post was about finding happiness and hit close to home as I’ve struggled with how busy my life has become and wondered how satisfied I am in it.

When I am most frenetic and busy, it is not when I’m most happy.  As an introvert who has to spend time alone to recharge, I often come home spent. Because of that, I don’t exercise like I should. Intellectually I understand that if I exercised more, my energy levels would recharge better.

Between the morning coffee and my thoughts, my brain awakens and uses the moment as a stepping stone to consider: “what do you want with the last third of your life, what is it that makes you most satisfied?”

  • Connecting with a patient and feeling like we are making progress together.
  • Spending a few hours with friends or family.
  • Seeing ongoing improvements in my ability to draw.
  • Learning something new.
  • The feeling I get AFTER I exercise (not during as I dislike it).

Ultimately the question becomes, how does one craft life to increase those moments that give you real joy. After 58 years on this earth I should be able to do that, shouldn’t I?

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2 thoughts on “Contemplating the Last Third of One’s Life

  1. I enjoy your snippets of information and contemplation. Keep them coming.

    I had thoughts and queries like yoursfrom the time I was 50+. I had planned what we would do with our retirement at 65 for him and 64 for me. My age now. We had purchase our grey nomad equipment, I had started to build my stash of quilting and craft fabrics, we started travelling overseas and began to explore social options for retirees in our community. That dream was shattered with a simple fall in 2002: inflammatory arthritis and recurring synovial cysts in my spine: 5 lots of surgery in 15 months. But I thought I could overcome it , no problems, just get on with life and keep the goals focused. I even jumped in and started on the Methytrexate when my rheumatoid factor jumped.

    In 2008 my husband was misdiagnosed until I became a pain in the rear end in ER . “No that is not his normal high blood pressure pattern. I want another opinion.” 7 hours later we had a new resident who changed the diagnosis to vestibular neuritis. 6 months later after testing and a graduated RTW program his memory was not coping with his secondary school students and administrative demands. We both retired at the end of that year when my left hip became unbearably painful and I was having black patches in my eyes when driving and developing a new training program.

    12 years from my first symptoms to a dependence on 100 mgs/ day of OxyContin for 5 types of advanced arthritises, multiple PEs recurring in 14 months and viral damage to my hearing, then grade 2 infiltrating lobular breast cancer and recently changing medications which showed up fast forming cataracts I; I am co caring with my husband of 43 years. His health started to fall apart with the viral vestibular neuritis that was initially 88% loss on one side to now having only 25% whole person balance capacity in the balance centres! A subluxation at L5/S1 forced a spinal fusion that was eventually repaired but only after neuropathic damage was incurred, psoriatic arthritis that forced a # navicular bone to be repaired and then sudden onset cataracts.

    Looking into a crystal ball for what to do with the last third of our lives so long ago, seems to have been an exercise in futility. As the old song goes, ” cay serra serra, what ever will be will be, the futures not ours to see ….. Etc” how true that song has been for us. We have worked hard, been innovative in our professions ( his senior sciences in high schools and mine in three parts from nursing to OHS / RTW and compensation management to qualified industrial assessment and training) We have raised 3 children who have become professionals in their own areas.

    Nothing prepared us for a forced retirement with significant limitations for both of us including leaving the home we designed and built in the late 1970’s ( that we can’t sell because of the recession in the rural sectors) to live in the 100 year old family home that has been classified as of “historic value” and is in serious need of significant maintenance and modification for disability and usability. The local council is totally unreasonable. But the house is 13 minutes from most of the key hospitals in the city and 8 minutes from the most innovative cancer and wellness centre in the Southern Hemisphere . This craftsmanship cottage was built in the then countryside on a block of land big enough to have a cow and be self sustaining with home grown fruit and vegetables. It was built to keep my husbands’s mother alive after a serious bout of scarlet fever in about 1908. She lived to 99.5 years thanks to her parents commitment and foresight. I had given her a commitment that I would keep the house and land in the family for as long as I could.

    Modern medicine has kept me alive and out of a wheelchair. My husband will battle on with close supervision from me and our medical advisors as his memory deteriorates. We won’t need to go to the gym to keep what fitness we have and need. There are fruit and vegetables to grow and preserve, lawns to mow. We have quality medical care close at hand. We have our memories of where we have been and might try to see again though not by aircraft travel. “Grey nomading” to part of this wide brown land in the not too distant future or cruises. I can still drive and manoeuvre a caravan. I have the Inspire site to contribute to and assist whenever possible. There are developments in medical sciences to become aware of and to keep my knowledge base alive and alert.

    It hasn’t been the future we had envisaged but it is better than some: Especially our closest friends whose rectal cancer has spread to his lungs and are not treatable. We praise God that our health still has some quality of life and at this stage a future to plan for. I have a wonderful rheumatologist and other medical professionals who treat me and my husband with respect and courtesy. As I have been encouraged over the past 11 years, “You are the captain of your health management regime. You call the shots based on our advice and your own active research. If we say no to a potential treatment then there will be a good reason behind the decision. We will do everything we can to keep you as pain free as possible for as long as possible. You will not become addicted to the narcotics because you need them for quality of life.”

    My advice for what it is worth is to plan for the future . Be prepared to give up work and some of your dreams if and when the time comes. In the mean time make time for yourself to do what you want to do, not what you need to do. Life has the bad habit of sneaking in surprises just when you don’t want that ” imposition” but you can modify your expectations. As my Aunt used to say if visitors turned up expectantly, ” Put some more water and veg in the soup. We can always have enough for all.” As she reached for a bottle or two of preserves from the pantry.”

    God bless and keep you.

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