Boyle McCauley News

Since 1979 • February-March 2024 • Circulation 5000


My Foot Fritz: Hitting a Wall of Aging

Recently, I crashed against the wall of aging. This happened when I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis (OA). In 1996, when I was in Australia, I tripped and broke seven bones in my right ankle. To fix it, several pins and a plate were installed. Upon my return to Canada I had these metal pieces taken out. At the time, the doctor suggested I would most likely get arthritis in that foot.

Since then, I have taken glucosamine and while I have experienced discomfort in that ankle, it has not really impacted my physical health. That was until May when the level of discomfort increased to the point of genuine crippling pain. As a result I consulted my family practitioner who took an x-ray, diagnosing OA. She prescribed a stronger pain ointment than the over the counter cream I had been using and recommended Tylenol for arthritis. I upped my dose of glucosamine which alleviated the symptoms somewhat.

Reading up on OA, there are two recommendations: weight loss and continue to walk as much as you can. The problem with walking is that it is painful. The problem with taking the recommended pain medication is that it has side effects and to counteract those side effects, I have to take something else. And so forth.

I have up until this point been focusing on the positives of aging – wisdom, freedom, emotional stability, and much more. I have also not focused on the health issues but it seems Fritz (what I have nicknamed my foot, since it is “on the fritz” so to speak) is calling for attention and acknowledgement. Okay, so as you get older your body doesn’t work as well and there are new health issues. Some of them amongst my friends and relatives include: gout, food allergies, diabetes, older onset eczema, arthritis, Parkinson’s, hip and knee problems, heart disease, and many other ailments.

For now, my foot Fritz creates some very real limitations and demands that I pay attention where previously I could just carry on doing all the things I wanted.

For individuals who used their physical body as their work – construction workers, loggers, dancers, and athletes among many others, their body which was strained and potentially injured in their work may show more severe deterioration. I recently read an article about the 65 yr old Baryshnikov ballet dancer who said his whole body hurt.

For now, my foot Fritz creates some very real limitations and demands that I pay attention where previously I could just carry on doing all the things I wanted. I have lost some sensation in that foot and so am less able to negotiate uneven ground; my balance seems impacted. Pain makes me tired. Though I can walk normally, now sometimes without pain, my start is always slow and painful.

Since my goal is to maintain as much flexibility as I can, I need to walk and participate in other activities. Doing that takes a bit more will power because it can be painful and discouraging. I am more actively working on controlling my weight. I consulted both an occupational therapist and a physiotherapist and their suggestions are helping diminish stiffness and pain and the consequent drug use. For all of us as we age, taking care of ourselves physically takes more time and energy, but not taking this time has unpleasant consequences.

Yup, I hit a wall of aging and I am grumpy about it!

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