Lists for Living and Somedays

Pattye Snyder Health Guide
  • About a year ago, a friend hopped up on the treadmill beside me at the gym.  When I said “Hey, haven’t seen you for awhile,” she replied, “that’s cause I’m dying.”  After my breathing and heart rate returned to a more normal level, I said “so…”  She replied “it’s really no big deal—after the diagnosis, the doctors wanted to hook me up to a machine for treatments they said MIGHT help.  When I said no, they then wanted to put me on a shot and drug regimen, again, that MIGHT help.  I refused.”  She told me she went home and had a family meeting with her adult children who whole-heartedly backed her up. Then she made a list of everything she had ever wanted to see or do, and added places she’d never gone.  She and her family gradually checked these things off one at a time.  They went to see a Broadway show, even stayed at an inn in New England in the fall to experience the awesome colors.  When the list was completed, she died a few short months later.  I miss my friend but treasure her “lesson.”

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    I tell everyone I know to write a list.  Because of my Osteoarthritis and the resulting surgeries, I’m losing some of my options.  I’ve always wanted to hike the entire Appalachian Trail, but have decided that doing a part of it is more reasonable (and do-able) for me.  I’ve even talked a friend into going with me.  I’m taking my daughter on a special trip next year for her 40th birthday.  I WILL return to Tanzania for my 65th birthday to climb Mount Kilimanjaro—even a small part of Mount Kilimanjaro will “count!”  There are lots of other things on my list, but I WILL DO THEM!

    Many people have commented to me that I have done (and still do) some wild and crazy things and wonder how I decide where to go.  I guess, before my friend’s death, I had a mental list of things I wanted to see and do, and places I wanted to visit.  I promised myself years ago that I wanted to be able to say that I’ve walked on all of the continents (and I’m getting there).  The one word that is definitely NOT a part of my vocabulary is “someday.”  My parents were perfect examples of “someday”—they were workaholics and kept saying someday we’ll travel.  They both became ill and died in their late 70s and  both worked until their illnesses (without traveling, of course).  I’m sure you all know people that have said “someday”—but as we’re all aware, that someday never comes.  So for me, I needed to get rid of that word and make a list!

    After all of the problems encountered from my hip replacement surgery #2 in October, I’m finally on the right road to recovery.  My hip has been healing just fine, thank you, but my internist put me on Bactrum for two weeks in an attempt to finally clear up the recurring infections from the staph the hospital gave me (at no extra charge!).  The medicine really upset my stomach (and gave me enough gas to drive to Chicago and back), but I seem to FINALLY be infection free!  I’m now going to a physical therapist twice a week and have several sets of exercises to do twice daily to stretch my hamstrings and repair the IT Channel (iliotibial) which was apparently severed during surgery.  I’m also going to the warm water therapy pool daily to help relieve some of the pain and relax the muscles.  A lot of work—but I know now I’m gonna get THERE!

  • My surgeon had commented that riding a bike is super exercise, but I thought this wasn’t a possibility since it was painful to sit on a bike (thanks to the surgeries).   On one of our notoriously cold and ugly days recently, I went into a bike shop. (Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment?)  When I explained my “problem,” the salesman grinned and told me to follow him.  He proudly showed me several bikes in a series (“Comfort” bikes by Raleigh)—which look like a normal bike but are made slightly different.  The stem where the handlebars attach is longer which immediately takes the pressure off the back as well as the pelvis.  The seat is also made slightly different for the same reason.  So, I finally feel pro-active in my recovery from surgery.  I was glad to find that there actually was a medical problem and I wasn’t just a nut-case (this time anyway).  I won’t have to always try to tolerate the thigh pain—it will actually go away.  

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    “Someday” is definitely NOT a part of my vocabulary!  It looks like I’ll need to add a bicycle to my List for Living.  I’m gaining a new freedom!  Have YOU started your LIST?

Published On: March 26, 2007