Janet Sheridan: Good thing I retired
I recently acquired a new wellness skill, one of many I’ve learned since my retirement: skills necessary if I want to keep my teeth, judge how much pepper I’ve sprinkled on my food, and rise from a chair without injuring anybody.
Most recently, I mastered the art of dropping three medicinal potions into my twitching eye, four times a day without flinching, poking the dropper through my eyeball, or letting the expensive fluids run uselessly down my cheek: a task as daunting, precise and time consuming as filling out federal tax forms. I plopped the drops faithfully as directed because I wanted to have a trouble-free recovery from my cataract surgery; I like being able to differentiate the age spots on my face from chocolate smears, which can, and should, be removed.
Prior to eye dropping, I took up stretching to rid my increasingly cranky body of its aches and pains. Though a long-time and consistent exerciser, I stretched about as often as I ate only one cookie: when in the company of others, but never when alone.
Then I developed sciatica, an ailment I thought old people complained about to be funny. Next came plantar fasciitis, a condition I’d never heard of until I began walking like a hobbled cow.
For both problems, my doctor sent me to physical therapy. With dedication and a stopwatch to ensure I held the poses as long as instructed, I stretched my pain away. I’ll never melt gracefully into extreme positions like a ballerina — though maybe no bones and a tutu would help — but I’ve kept my ailments at bay for two years by stretching.
So now, for five days a week, I exercise 45 to 60 minutes, stretch for another 30, and manage an endless stream of eye drops in my spare time. In addition, I follow other, less time-consuming procedures. For example, I begin each day with a NetiPot. Irrigating my sinuses is not elegant, but it works. Enough said.
My dentist encourages me to schedule semi-annual dental checkups along with daily fifteen-minute applications of peroxide gel and twice daily flossing and brushing sessions. If I perform these tasks faithfully into eternity, he tells me I might be able to keep my gums healthy, my teeth in place, and my food well chewed until the day I die.
Recently, I was watching TV in my new easy chair, feeling good about having my carcass under control, when a physical-fitness advocate on the Today Show proclaimed that even those who exercise regularly are likely to suffer dire physical ailments if they sit too much.
I fled to my computer and found the studies he cited; but I also discovered other researchers who argued that standing too much could be detrimental to our health as well. We could fall prey to varicose veins, fallen arches, aching backs and occasional toppling when weary.
However, most experts seemed to agree that we should abandon our chairs, couches and cars at least once an hour to move around and stretch. “Sounds easy enough,” I thought. “I can add a few minutes of movement after I sit for an hour at the computer, with a book, or indulging in lethargy.”
After trying it for a few days, I’m not sure my new resolve will last long enough to become a habit. When I include basic grooming, the better part my day is gone before I’m ready to appear in public. And now, once I’m eye-dropped, exercised, stretched and dentally cleansed with sinuses drained, I have to leap up every hour and run about waving my arms.
At retirement parties across the land, honorees talk about traveling, golfing and spending more time with their grandchildren.
They’re really retiring so they’ll have time to deal with their rebelling bodies.
Sheridan’s book, “A Seasoned Life Lived in Small Towns,” is available in Craig at Downtown Books and Steamboat Springs at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore. She also blogs at http://www.auntbeulah.com on Tuesdays.