Friday, November 8, 2013

Left



I never cared much for this word.  It evokes either some degree of pain and sadness, or plain indifference.


As the past tense of 'leave', it could potentially become a sad word.  Very few of us enjoy being left. You missed your ride and got left behind.  A loved one dies and you're left behind.  Your spouse or lover left you for another.  Or maybe you got left at the altar.  Left.  Crappy, isn't it?

And Left is not Right.  And when you're not right, you're wrong.  Right?

And I'm right...right-handed, that is.  So for most of my life, I've never paid much attention, not given much importance to my Left.  Until in recent years, when my Left started making sure I noticed it and cared more for it.  If you've been following this blog, you know that it's not a secret that my left side is messed up.  Bad left knee, weak left shoulder, and signs of osteoarthritis on my left hand / fingers.  More specifically, it's my left pinky finger for about three or four years now, and frankly, it doesn't bother me all that much. Other than the occasional pain and weakness during cold mornings, and some difficulty reaching certain keys when I type, it's been manageable for me.  

However, recently, someone wanted more attention.  My left thumb.  It's actually not the thumb itself but the joint. If I'm not mistaken (and yes, I'm self diagnosing myself here), it's my carpometacarpal joint and again, it's most likely due to my osteoarthritis.  It feels tender, like I tore a ligament or something and it's definitely frustrating me at the moment.  It's a constant reminder that I'm aging, and possibly at a much accelerated rate than what I had expected.

I never appreciated the value of my thumb before all this happened.  It's gotten to a point where I am having a hard time extending it when I need to grab something, especially one that has some weight to it.  It's annoying to realize that holding just a full glass of water takes some effort now and could be painful at times. Even more so when I try to squeeze something like maybe a bottle of shower gel. Sure there are better days, and worse days, but still, I know that there is now a new normal set for me.  

Everyday and night, I'm reminded of all the days from the past decades when I took my thumb, and all my other strong, young and normal body parts for granted. Everyday now, I feel as if Left is staring back at me, pointing its fingers at me as it giggles mockingly.  I know now that the arrogance of my Right has been toned down.  Yes, it's still my dominant side but it now knows it simply can't go it alone.  

I know I'm far from defining myself as disabled, and that I'm still in a far better place than others out there who are dealing with real physical challenges.  But if anything, these physical changes have made me realize that part of aging is letting go of one's (false) sense of invincibility.  Youth tends to 'gift' us with a veneer of immortality, which of course is only possible because at the same time, youth comes with innocence and a myopic view of life and the world.  However as we age and we find that our bodies do break down after all whether we like it or not, we are confronted with the inevitable truth;  that we are mortals, we have weaknesses, and that no body part is too insignificant to be taken for granted, mocked, abused or ignored.  

Enjoy what you have.  Know that there is no such thing as an insignificant part of your anatomy.  Love it.  Care for it.  Celebrate it!  Right and Left, I see now that there is such symphonic beauty to your symmetry.  I hope I'm not yet too late.












10 comments:

  1. "physical changes have made me realize that part of aging is letting go of one's (false) sense of invincibility"

    So very true Joy, and something I realized long ago (since I am a good distance now from your age). At first it bothered me, then I realized I needed to accept it, and take better care of myself, so that I might enjoy a healthier old age than what I see my mother experiencing. Yoga has made a tremendous difference in my strength, stamina and mind set. But there were a couple of times in the past 9 months when I had a flare up of what I think is arthritis in my middle toe on my right foot, and it made practicing yoga very difficult, and reinforced my convictions. Now I celebrate every day that I manage to do what I want to do without being sidetracked by odd pains and aches. :)

    Thanks for confirming my beliefs and making me realize that I am not alone on this road!

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    1. Thanks for your lovely comment, Cathy! I've heard a lot of great things about yoga from different people and I must admit it's all worth considering. But you're absolutely right about simply celebrating what we have each and every day. :-)

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  2. Catherine is right: try yoga. If you can, try hot yoga. I was stiff & had backaches. Now I have never felt better. It took 3 months. Now I am wondering why everybody is not doing it!

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    1. I hope I get to try this before I lose all flexibility. Yikes!

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  3. I've started with similar pain - but was able to get rid of most of it by switching back to a mouse from the trackpad. Dunno - but it worked.

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    1. I do use the mouse Thom. Plus it's my left side so I'm not sure :-( Glad you're better!

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  4. I think we're of a similar age Joy - I hear you about the aches and pains than creep in. Getting a bit more active and some light exercise has really helped my 'old lady hip & knee' so maybe Cathy and Muriel are right about the benefits of yoga.

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    1. I'm guilty Lucy. I need to go back to exercising regularly. Thanks for the push! We need it :-)

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  5. Yoga, massage, sauna, meditation and wear something red! Not meant as a joke but rather in the way of surrounding yourself with things beneficial to your physical and spiritual health.

    With me it is the right side that bothers me: tinnitus in my right ear and retinal detachment in my right eye, those two challenge my equilibrium (making me walk like a drunk person early in the morning), make me afraid of heights, night blind and a real joy to have a discussion with in a noise filled room.

    I have come to accept my two ailments, this is the way I am, but deep down - I suspect - there is still this being who wants to be forever young and physically perfect. Yes, it is good to talk about it and share what ails us. Thank you, Joy, for reminding me to be grateful for what I have and celebrate!

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    1. Thanks too Barbara! It definitely helps to know we're not alone!

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Let me know your thoughts!