Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Bones and Ballsy Old Men



On June 29th, 2016 I wrote in this blog, “I got some great news this week from my orthopedic doctor. The results of my bone density scans show that I’ve lowered my risk factor for a major osteoporotic fracture down from last year’s 20% to this year’s 15%. The Reclast infusion did its job---far better than the Forteo injections did after two years of doing them daily which only lowered the risk factor down by 1.3%.” Guess what, this year’s bone density scans show my risk factor for a major osteoporotic fracture is up to 16% which means my second Reclast infusion didn’t repeat its magic on my bones. It’s disappointing, especially considering I’ve also been doing intense weight bearing exercises that are recommended for building bones. The only thing left to do that is supposed to help to keep osteoporosis at bay is to give up coffee. Would life be worth living without it? I gave up soda pop several years ago and lived to tell about it. Some people don’t realize it, but there’s a correlation between having a high intake of pop and having an elevated risk of fractures. Experts aren’t sure why but some say it could be just the fact that if you’re drinking a lot of pop you aren’t drinking enough milk.

My doctor does full body scans from three different angles, not the one wrist test that a lot of women get and, he says, if my insurance doesn’t cover the cost of doing those scans every year, he will. Many companies only cover a bone density test every two years. But I have bad bones---four broken since menopause plus I’ve had two badly needed knee replacements---a by-product of taking thyroid medication since I was a kid. It leeches the calcium out of your bones. That’s the trouble with a lot of medications, they cure one thing while causing another problem in your body. I did learn something new regarding calcium. I’m taking calcium carbonate which needs to be taken with food, 600 mg taken twice a day but sometimes that second pill doesn’t get taken because I either ate away from home or I was doing a two-shakes-one-meal day. If I pick up some calcium citrate it can be taken with or without food and there’s a better chance I’ll get my full 1,200 mg in every single day.

The next day I decided to take myself out to lunch and while following another car on a five lane road, both of us going about 50 miles an hour, a tall, lean figure on a skateboard swooped out of a condo driveway, crossing closely in front of the other car and into the center lane. The other driver slammed on his breaks and so did I, thankful that he didn’t hit the skateboarder and I didn’t end up in the backseat of the other car. As the skateboarder got within six feet of my driver’s side window it hit me: The damn fool was my age! No helmet or other safety gear, gray hair, white beard and he was wearing a pair of leather goggles like drivers of early automobiles did to keep the bugs and dust out of their eyes. I wondered briefly if it was the same pair of goggles I sold in my antique booth after my husband died. As I watched the ballsy old guy in my rear view mirror I had no doubt he planned on staying in the center lane all the way to the baseball park over a mile down the road where skateboarders are known to congregate.

After I placed my order for a tuna melt on rye at the Guy-Land Cafeteria I thought about Mr. Ballsy who was probably at the park by then, matching his skateboarding skills up against kids young enough to be his great grandchildren. And I didn’t know whether to admire his careless disregard for his personal safety or to scorn him for scaring the stuffing out of drivers. But he did get me thinking. Why is it that some people, like him, don’t give up their younger self’s passion while others, like me, are afraid to even rekindle ours? Case in point: In 2016 I re-purposed my guest room into a multipurpose hobby room/guest room with a whole side devoted to painting. I hauled my oak easel out of storage, unpacked my old supplies, bought some new ones, prepared some canvases and I fully planned on picking up where I left off in the mid-1980s, before family obligations and caregiving took over my life. I still have not mixed my first palette of paints. Will my old talent come back? Will my cataracts dull my color sense too much? Will I still enjoy the process of honing a craft that takes more years than I've got left to become famous like my younger self dreamed of being? I’m afraid---afraid of the answers to those questions. Why can’t I be like that ballsy old man and say to myself: Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead! A phrase that’s come to mean, of course, that despite the known risks continue forward with gusto. I think I’ll google that old Civil War Naval battle cry and see if I can find it cross-stitched on a throw pillow. That might help inspire me to overcome my fear of failure in an area where I once excelled. ©

 Link to the re-purposed room with photos

36 comments:

  1. I have osteopenia, but it hasn't progressed much. I should be weight training like you. You're an example. My doctor orders full body scans, too. I get one every other year. Soda is so bad for us. I never drink more than one glass a day, and a lot of the time I drink none. I drink ginger ale when I do drink it, not cola. Cola beverages are the ones that affects bone density, but I don't drink much milk. I drink mostly water, carbonated. A study found that carbonated water does not affect bone density.

    I remember when you repurposed your guest room. It turned out very nice. I say, give your painting a try if you have a yen for it. No one is watching. What is that quote? Dance like no one is watching? I found the whole quote. Here it is.
    "Sing like no one is listening.
    Love like you’ve never been hurt.
    Dance like nobody’s watching,
    and live like it’s heaven on earth."

    A nice trick if we can only do it. I guess your skateboarder mastered it.

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    1. I'll have to give ginger ale a try although for cold drinks I usually just make Crystalite. There's probably some study saying that is bad too.

      I've never seen that whole quote. Thanks for sharing it. I have two whole months ahead of me with not much on my schedule. I need to use that room!

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  2. Your post made me think of my favourite activities: reading and sewing. Neither has any attraction for me now. Reading has been replaced by web surfing. I used to love sewing; it provided an opportunity for creativity, and practicality in the sense I made clothes for the children, and loved doing that. My husband never really liked me doing either, particularly as I could get absorbed in both to the detriment of other tasks. But it was my me-time and relaxation, and I kept it up. Law of nature: anything limited becomes more attractive.

    Now I have all the time in the world, but don't want to read/sew. It's so much cheaper to buy a ready made Chinese made garment.

    Time to discover a new hobby methinks! ~ Libby

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    1. I used to sew and read a lot too. I loved sewing for the results more than the process so I didn't mind giving that up and buying ready made. I surf the web a lot too and that is just a different kind of reading than books, but it's still reading. Thankfully, my husband was not resentful of choosing art over housework if the spirit moved me at a particular time. He was my biggest fan. I can't imagine painting without someone to ask, "How does that look? Do you think it's finished?"

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  3. I think you might be asking the wrong questions here...consider it something familiar but new. You no longer want to be famous (well, even if you do, put that thought aside) but want to reacquaint yourself with something you used to do. Try considering no long term goals of achievement but simply playing. My quilt group entered a show...we did a second slice quilt (9 panels) and last weekend was the opening and we won a judges award. I was so excited! Unlike the rest of my group, I have not been doing this for many years and I do not have the art background that the rest of the group does. What I do have is the desire to play and see where it takes me. It sounds like you are confining yourself. No goals...just play (but unlike the skateboarder...don't play in traffic!)
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I think you are right. I need a new attitude with no real goal. I used to do mostly people and I've been thinking that if I started out with an abstract, that might get me over the fear of starting again since there is not right or wrong to those---just color and composition, no "Do I have the eyes right?"

      Congratulations on your quilt group winning the judge's award! I don't care how old we get, recognition still feels good!

      "No goals, just play" maybe I need that on a cross-stitched pillow. LOL

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  4. Interesting that the guy on the skateboard didn't seem worried about breaking any bones. Even though I think my bones are still strong, I am reluctant to bike ride after watching a friend fall off her bike and break an ankle while we were far north in Michigan. Congratulations on all your work and success in getting stronger and improving stamina. Ann

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    1. That's what got me, too, that an old guy would take such chances because old guy can break bones,too. I'm guessing he's been skateboarding for so many years he never falls. I wish after lunch I'd gone down to the park to see if I could find him there to watch.

      Thanks, I do feel better both mentally and physically with my new found strength.

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  5. I guess as a child, I got my knee cap broken. I barely remember it. Haven't had another occasion. I had one bone density test and at the time was told it was fine for my age. It was near the time I was told I had osteoporosis. Seemed like an odd thing.

    Good for the old fogy to be out there exercising his muscles, his balance must be in great shape. I would do myself some grievous harm if I even tried. I would bet he's been a menace on the streets this whole time! Ha Ha!

    You have prepared a room to paint in and you haven't done it yet? Time to get busy, I'd say. They aren't kidding when they say, 'Move it or lose it.' If you haven't painted since the 80s, you may notice a change in your style, not necessarily a bad change ... I'd love to see what you have done! That room is too nice a space to go unused. I would say, 'Damn the torpedoes,' and start painting while your hands can still hold the brush and they don't shake.

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    1. What you said in the first paragraph is odd. How can you bones be fine but still have osteoporosis?

      I've been working on my balance but I wouldn't dream of getting on a skateboard! A balance board is enough challenge for me. LOL

      Thanks for the pep talk and the scare about shaky hands. I don't have that but many people my age do.

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    2. My thoughts precisely, okay bones but osteo. Why I thought it odd. (and nothing more potent than calcium tablets ...)

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  6. I too admire those who just keep on keeping on. Sure he was old and not a sun damaged teen? Wishful thinking.
    I gave up coffee and all caffeinated or carbonated beverages due to my heart condition. Wasn't all that hard after the withdrawal headaches:) I drink water now or herbal teas. There are some good ones out there. Good luck.

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    1. No, he was definitely old enough to collect social security. He was very close and could see his face clearly, wrinkles and all.

      I drink a lot of water, too. Most days I only have two cups of coffee and I've tried herbal teas but haven't found one I really like except for those that are blended at Starbucks and who knows what all goes into those.

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  7. The man on the skateboard sure has that "Damn the torpedoes full steam ahead" attitude, that's well and good as long as he can avoid the torpedoes, I respect pushing yourself to keep doing things but we still have to "look both ways before crossing the street" or skating into the middle of it.

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    1. The road doesn't have any sidewalks which is why I'm sure he planned to stay in the middle of street. I am not a rule breaker but he obviously is. Can you imagine the two of us living together?

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  8. I need to start taking care of my body! I am not regular about taking vitamins and supplements ... should be taking calcium (also have osteopenia), Vit D, salmon oil and multi. I just hate swallowing pills. Although if I swallow NOW, I won't have to be taking any more later!

    I am hopeful that with a new knee, I can move around more which will help ALL of my body.

    You are great inspiration. I drink one soda a month, maybe. Two cups of coffee. They can't expect us to give up everything!!!

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    1. I don't think your coffee and soda consumption is going to get any doctor shaking a finger at you. But not taking calcium, now that could/should. Did you ever try vitamins and calcium gummies? I hate those big pills, too, and their after taste but I take the Vitafusion Platinum 50+ age essential multivitamin gummy and it tastes so good I have to remind myself it's not candy. Calcium also comes in a gummy.

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  9. OR--YOU could cross stitch it for a pillow cover!!!I have too much calcium, it can cause kidney stones, so I don't take any supplement, but I do have a cup of milk a day. I have drank Diet Pepsi steadily since the mid-80's and apparently it hasn't leached a milligram of calcium. When I was 21 years old, I was 5'11" tall. I am now 5'10 1/2" tall, so I have lost 1/2 inch of height. I have osteo-arthritis, thus the hip replacements, but nothing else. Guess I am pretty lucky, come from good genes and of course, growing up on a farm and for the first 18 years of my life, drinking raw milk and eating all those home grown veggies hasn't hurt. :-)

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    1. I wish I could say I haven't lost any height. I used to be 5' 7 1/2" and now am 5' 4". Growing up on a farm and eating all those veggies, working hard and drinking raw milk probably does make a huge difference. How often do they test your calcium? Mine is tested yearly and has never been high, but I have a thyroid disorder and you don't so I don't absorb it well.

      I hate doing cross stitch, love the looks of it but not doing it.

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  10. All artists are afraid, but I read a wonderful, freeing statement from a very accomplished artist saying 50% of what she did was crap, but the 50% that wasn't made it all worthwhile.

    What got me started painting again was doing a couple of paint-by-number paintings of Golden Retrievers for relaxation! It reminded me how much I loved the way the brush and paint feel on the canvas so I decided to paint a dog from a reference photo. I was surprised at how well it turned out and proceeded to buy every brush and color that appealed to me!

    Watch a few painting demos on YouTube in the next few days, set aside 3 hours, put on some music or the radio (the silence will drive you batty if you don't), pick a subject, squeeze out your paint, turn on that Ott Lite and see what happens.

    If it doesn't feel right, then you'll know and can put the longing to rest. I bet it will feel great and make you want to do more. At the very least you'll forget everything that's bugging you for 3 hours!

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    1. I love this as a concrete plan of action. Last night in bed I was thinking I should schedule painting time way I do doctor appointments to get me started. I used to paint-by-numbers when I was a kid. I even like the idea of starting with a dog's portrait---I used to do people portrait and figures mostly. With a dog there would be less pressure to get it right. The 50% is a reminder that I used to paint over a lot of canvasses that didn't turn out well.

      Thanks!

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  11. My wife has some problems with her bones. She was having a shot every 6 months to help since her doctor told her that her bones look like Swiss cheese. Since that time everything is now back to normal thank God. I hope that you'll be able to figure out the problem with your bones. You'll have to be careful my friend. Don't forget you and I are getting old. LOL See ya Jean

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. Wow, that's great drug that can show that kind of improvement! I'm happy for your wife. If you come back do you know the name of those shots? I've been told by both my doctors that if they can just stop the progression of bone loss they consider it a successful treatment.

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    2. Hi again Jean. I asked my wife and she told me it's called " prolia ". She had 4 shots of it and each shot cost her $500. Now that's the cost in Canada but I have no idea what that would cost in the US. Have a great 4th of July my friend. See ya.

      Cruisin Paul

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    3. Thanks for the information. I'm thinking it's similar to bisphosphonates I took. All those bone drugs cost a fortune! But if they work, they do save money for the medical system in the long run.

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  12. I find that when I'm intimidated by some creative task, setting aside time for it and then forcing myself to stick with it until the full time has elapsed helps to get my creative juices flowing. I hope you'll make time for painting. -Jean

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    1. I've decided to take L.S. Nelson's advice (above) about starting with a paint-by-number---going shopping for a kit tomorrow. She's a gifted artist and I think your idea of scheduling creative time is a great idea as well. I've certainly got a lot of open time over the next two months.

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  13. Perhaps you should just paint to provide your own personal enjoyment if doing so gives you pleasure and you can be satisfied that is enough. If something more comes of it, fine, if not, that's fine, too. My unrealized activity was drama that I gave up after I wed, had a family and couldn't devote the intense time frame involved with any production. I don't have the same drive to want to pursue that now, but I'll always have a nostalgia for it. Seems to me painting is a bit different as you can do it in your home and completely on your own terms without others being involved. Of course, maybe in your community there are some Sr. groups or other type classes i.e. Adult Ed and you could experiment with enrolling in one of those, even if some of it might be below your level of expertise.

    The first bone density test I took years ago, the guy told me I was an inch shorter than what I had been. I told him I thought he must be mistaken but he seemed to not pay attention. He didn't even bother to remeasure me. I came home and immediately had my son (that's how long ago that was) measure me. My height hadn't changed a smidgen. I knew the guy had to be wrong, because if I'd lost a whole inch the pant legs on my slacks would have been long on me and they've not changed since. I deal with other issues but so far bone density isn't one of them. My friend copes with the bone issues so don't envy you and know it can be a challenge.

    Anybody engaging in an activity like skate boarding, biking, etc. --especially older folks -- who don't wear a helmet are asking for trouble. A bump on the noggin can leave them with brain injury that forever alters their life, employability and the loved ones who have to deal with them. It's called Closed Head Trauma usually affecting cognitive functions -- can be impulsive, lack control/judgement, short term memory to name a few behavior and personality changes. Maybe he already had some of those issues if he was taking such risks.

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    1. I know, that guy is taking serious risks that could effect the quality of the rest of his life. There are things that can happen to you that are worse than dying. I've seen those closed head injury wards in nursing homes and they all filled with young people.

      My height is now 7'4" and used to be 4' 7 1/2" and I'm still not used to be short. Sometimes when I'm sitting at a table I feel like a little kids. LOL Funny how that guy wouldn't remeasure you, that he needed to to be "right."

      I have tried finding leisure time painting classes and some of us have tried to get the senior hall to offer one. I'd take one in a heart beat if I could find one that doesn't meet downtown. I may have to break my boycott of Hobby Lobby to take a class in the fall, if they offer them again.

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    2. Wow! You're 7'4" now??? That treatment you're getting must really be something! To think you were only 4' 7 1/2" before. Hoo hah!

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    3. LOL. I must have been really tired when I wrote that. I'm 5' 4" now was 5' 7 1/2".

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    4. Ah...the signs are there.....you're losing it!!! Just kiddin'!

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  14. I admire that older man's gutsiness....but not his endangering others with his exuberance! That's just irresponsible. As for painting....DAMN THE DAMN TORPEDOES! No one is likely to have to slam on their brakes. LOL I am not an artist at all, but I love playing with paint and "pretend" I'm a famous artist -- I'm pretty good at imitating Jackson Pollock. LOL

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    1. I should give you my Jackson Pollock limited edition Crocs. I really love those shoes.

      That guy scared the crap out of me and probably the driver in front of me!

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  15. I didn't know that coffee is a concern when it comes to bone density. I have two cups in the morning, and occasionally one at night, but I never drink soft drinks of any sort, and have a really high calcium intake (milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.). Of course, I get plenty of Vitamin D every day, so I'm not too worried. I've had a couple of good falls, too, with no particular damage, so I've tested the system, so to speak.

    I'm finding my photography a wonderful new creative venture. I think creativity (like virtue!) is its own reward. On July 4th, I took advantage of the extra time and spent the whole day down at the wildlife refuge. It was hot, but bearable, and I found some real treasures. I think the trick is finding something that gives you pleasure, and then indulging yourself. You don't even need a particular goal, like exhibiting your work in a gallery. Sharing it as gifts, or sharing it here on your blog -- that sort of thing is valid sharing, too -- just as your writing is.

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    1. Two cups a day for someone with good bones isn't going to hurt you. But just because someone intakes a lot of calcium everyday doesn't mean that their body is absorbing that calcium. That's my problem and that's what makes your bones honeycomb.

      I was big time into photograph in the 70s. I don't know why I burned out on it...maybe because my husband took it up in the 80s and he REALLY loved it. It seemed dumb to visit the same places and take similar photos, so I let him have the honors. Now that everyone can take good quality stuff with their phones it doesn't interest me anymore other than to see the lovely stuff others post.

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