Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Progress(?) of Life

At the last appointment with my rheumatologist, we discussed the nature of my RA: aggressive, non-responsive, and difficult to treat. The PA, who is really great, is frustrated that they can't find the right combination of meds. I think she's more frustrated than I am. During our talk I told her, "I live with the pain every day, but it could be worse. I'm functioning ."

To be honest, I'm losing confidence that my condition will ever improve. It certainly seems inexorable. The best I can hope for is to remain stable, which just isn't going to happen. On a day-to-day basis, I feel like I'm not getting worse. In the short term, I think I doing pretty well. But when I look long term I can begin to see how much I've deteriorated in the last 6 or 7 years.

When I first moved back to Nampa, and joined the Nampa Rec Center, I walked to the rec center every morning, then exercised, then walked home. While it's true that I'm still exercising on an almost daily basis, there's no way I could add the walk there and back. Despite daily exercise, my physical fitness continues to decline significantly.

One of the activities I really enjoy is golf. In case you're not aware, I was a golf pro for several years, and a fairly good player. I still enjoy being on the course, with my friends, enjoying the weather, and the company, and the creativity of golf. Obviously I can't play like I used to, but I can still play.

Yesterday I played 18 holes with some friends, my second 18 hole round of the year. It wiped me out. I can't begin to tell you how exhausted I was when I got home. Over the last few years I've only played a few rounds a year. I think I've reached the point at which I won't be able to play 18 holes any more. I might have to become a nine hole player only. Playing more than that just requires too much energy.

Or I might have to be a driving range player. I regularly go the range to hit a small bucket of balls. 50 balls takes me about an hour to hit, and is about the same number of shots I would take in 18 holes. Despite my enjoyment of the game, and desire to play, it's clear my physical ability to play golf continues to decline.

Even so, I hope I don't sound defeatist, or defeated. I have a great life.
I enjoy my life despite my medical challenges.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

What have you learned?

Last year for my 50th birthday, my family took me out to Red Robin. During the dinner, Dad asked me, "So what wisdom do you have to share from your 50 years?" I think he was being facetious, but I answered him anyway.

Be kind.
Do good things.
Be humble.

At the time there wasn't much thought involved. In fact Dad even dismissed my ideas. But later he came back and told me they were good words - important ideas. I wondered why those particular ideas escaped my mind. Were they really just off the top of my head? Were they just rambling thoughts? Or was there something more to them?

For the past nine months or so I've been pondering my words.

For a while I thought, "Surely I can come up with something better. I've lived for 50 years. There must be something more important I can come up with, something much more profound." I read the words of other great thinkers and wonder why I didn't come up with something like they said. I even wrote a book about living with less, being content, looking for significance in life.

But I keep coming back to these three ideas. I think this is what life is all about.

Be kind.
Even Jesus said this is important. "Love your neighbor as yourself." When I am kind to those around me, even those who don't deserve my kindness, I think I have a good chance of making the world a better place.

Do good things.
There's a longer saying; I think I may have either plagiarized the saying, or was just inspired by it:

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”  ― John Wesley

Be humble.
I hope I can recognize my strengths, but I don't ever want to think too highly of myself. I hope I've never treated people in such a way that makes them think I'm full of myself. I strive to be humble. I guess only my family and friends can tell me if I'm succeeding.

So during my next 50 years, I'll keep looking for wisdom. Maybe these three ideas will have changed when I reach 100 - but for now they are good words for me to live by.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hablo un poquito de español

I started learning Spanish back in 8th grade - got kicked out of class for making the teacher cry (yes, I'm embarrassed) and gave up learning another language.

When I was working in Wendell as a school counselor I started learning again. We had a high Latino population so I had a lot of people wiling to help me learn the language: students, families, staff. I even spent a month in Mexico in a Spanish immersion program. And I learned a lot in that month. But when I got home, I didn't spend enough time practicing and I lost much of what I had learned.

Now, I'm learning again, using the Pimsleur approach. I listen to 30 minute lessons. There's a narrator, a Spanish speaking man and a Spanish speaking woman. They talk, I repeat. Today I listened to leccion veintisiete (Lesson 27). I'm learning a lot.

Even so, I'm still not confident enough to actually speak Spanish with someone who's first language is Spanish. There are several people at the rec center who have noticed that I'm learning Spanish, and they've offered to talk with en español anytime. I've said a few sentences, but haven't yet a real conversation. Someday I will

I like the challenge of learning a new language, even if it's taking me a long time.
Yo aprendo despacio. The lessons are designed to be listened to every day, one per day. I listen as I'm walking and I listen to each lesson four times. And today's lesson, which has been difficult for me to really get, I've already listened four times and I'll probably review it once or twice tomorrow. I'm hoping that at some point I'll be able to think in Spanish instead of translating back and forth.

Next time you see me, if you know Spanish, speak to me in Spanish. Just be patient with how long it takes me to translate and respond.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Double Rainbow

About two weeks ago I stepped out my front door to find this wonderful view.

No other words for this post - just nature's beauty.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Start My Day with Gratitude

Today I was at the Nampa Rec Center at 5am, when they open. That's way earlier than I normally get there, but I had an appointment and had to fit in my exercise earlier. There's a group of regulars who are at the NRC every morning at 5am. This morning I was the fourth one there. With everybody standing in line, I decided to hold the door. I ended up holding it for about 40 people.

How many times have you started a day with dozens of people saying, "Thank you"? This is probably the first time I have and it was a great way to start the day.

I was able to express kindness and I received gratitude in return.
They were able to receive kindness, and express gratitude.
That sure seems like a win-win situation to me.

I don't know how often I'll do the same thing, but I received a great return for minimal effort.