Today I had my light bulb moment when I stumbled across Richard Cohen's blog. Richard is married to Meredith Vieira and was diagnosed ages ago with Multiple Sclerosis. And now, thanks to this post, "Importance of Staying Stubborn", I have a much better understanding of Roger. Though we aren't faced with M/S, Roger does have issues that can affect his mobility. And thanks to Richard's post, I fully get Roger's "stubborness". (Is that a word?!?!) Either way, I ask that you please read Richard's post before continuing on with my entry.
Awesome, thank for obliging me and now on to the purpose of my post.
Thanks to yet another ruptured disc (L1 this time), along with a very painful shoulder, Roger has been struggling in putting on his socks and shoes in the morning. This is actually nothing new, just currently made even more difficult at the moment due to very real injuries.
In my effort to help him out a bit, I found the aides (a nifty device to help you put on your socks and a super long shoe-horn) provided to him following his hip replacement and set them beside his shoes. I had been encouraging him, as in nagging, to get them out himself, but when he didn't, I assumed he was simply forgetful. After a few days I told him I was happy that he was using the tools and noted how much easier it is to now accomplish what was a very difficult and painful task. His response..."but I feel like I'm giving in".
This statement was completely lost on me. If you need help, get it! Clearly I'm a Democrat at heart, but I digress. I told him he wasn't giving in, that he has a ruptured disc for heaven's sake. I've seen him flat on the floor before and was doing what I could to avoid that from happening again.
Back to his question. "If this is how my body is now, what will it be like in 10 years?" Roger posed this question to me just the other night.
I've allowed my mind to wander in that direction as well a time or two, but mostly in the functional sense. A future home should be a single story and have a walk-in shower. I need to be sure he has access to the best doctors like he currently has. I need to have a job that provides him with excellent health insurance. As far as the actual life-style aspect of the future, I rarely allow myself to think that far ahead and instead focus on what his capabilities are at the moment.
In the end, my response to him, which is 98% true, is that his body is only slightly the worse for wear than it was 10 years earlier, much of this due to the natural aging process. But we know with Roger it's more than that.
Many years ago he was diagnosed with degenerative disc and bone disease. What this means is that over the course of our 24 year marriage he's had 4 back surgeries, rotator cuff surgery, and a hip replacement. (He's also had major surgery on his colon, but that's another story). His lower back is marred with scar tissue and arthritis. Soon he will need to have the left shoulder repaired as he is in intense pain right now, and the other hip is inevitable, but far from a current pressing matter.
He's also had a nagging, sometimes screaming, wife yelling at him "to take it easy", "STOP THAT", "are you CRAZY"....on and on and on.
One thing I've known all along is that Roger's unwillingness to "give in" is what keeps his tired, arthritic body going. But more importantly, it's what keeps his spirit alive. He could have long ago just tossed in the towel, but he has absolutely refused.
I truly wish I could thank Richard Cohen personally for the openness and raw honesty that he shares with his readers, but for now I know I'll honor him by backing off Roger and letting him do things his way. I'll suggest alternatives from time to time, but it's ultimately up to him to make the decision.
So 10 years from now I foresee a 71-year-old guy that has been through a lot mentally and physically, but will also still be a force to deal with, staying well ahead of his 64-year-old wife. Oh, and he'll still have that wicked-fast sense of humor that also keeps me on my toes!