Yesterday I woke up with a mild case of positional vertigo.
It appears that in your inner ear, in the semi-circular canals (you may remember them from high school biology), there are little sand-like particles that can get shaken up if your head is moved suddenly into an unusual position. Those upset particles can cause you to feel unbalanced , dizzy, and for some, even nauseated and unable to get out of bed, room spinning around.
I was frightened when I tried to get up and felt like I was on a ship in a storm. Fortunately my husband, who is a physician, figured out what was wrong. As the day went on, I felt better, but still unsteady.
What hit me as I lay propped up in bed yesterday was that as I grow older I am going to have more health issues like these. This may seem rather obvious in the abstract, but sometimes it takes a fall or the flu or a bout of vertigo to remind us that we're a bit more vulnerable than we used to be. Not that younger people don't get vertigo, but maybe my chances of experiencing it do increase with age.
So how do we handle our physical vulnerabilities as we grow older? Particularly our own reactions to them? I think it's okay to be frightened, to worry, to lament the fact that we are not as physically resilient as we once were. But I also think it's okay to relax, to take care of ourselves, to accept the fact that everyday we may not feel like going out and running a 10K. In fact I've never run a 10K and I'm fine with that.
I think that growing older requires maturity. And most of us gain it as we age--it's one of the gifts that comes with accumulation of years. What would seem pretty scary and even depressing to a 30-year-old (vertigo coming out of virtually nowhere) is something we may be able to take more in stride in our 60s.
I'm going to be 65 in four months, and I know there are many 65-year-olds who struggle with chronic illness and debilitating conditions. I'm grateful for the good health I have. But I'm also aware that there is no going back. I'm going to try to be comfortable and at peace with my body and do my best to adapt to challenges that lie ahead.
I'm feeling better today. And, at this moment, I'm okay with some lingering unsteadiness. It helped me to go to the store with my husband this afternoon (he kindly insisted), and it helps me to blog about how I feel. Whatever helps you feel better about where you are today, you should do it. Listening to ourselves and responding with care for ourselves are important ways to come to terms with our changing bodies. And they're also an important part of our journey toward growing older and being happier.