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On Getting Older, With a Smile

Jun 14

Posted by: ACHA
6/14/2013 2:41 PM  RssIcon

By Paul Willgoss

We are more than our heart conditions, so let us have a good moan!

Normally this is a genuine battle cry for holistic medicine—and that’s holistic as in whole person, not in any new age, mumbo jumbo sense!

Usually, it’s a recognition that although we have our various heart conditions, some of us have attendant scars (physical and psychological), implantable technologies, occasionally funky bits and a level of knowledge about medical issues that leaves most general practitioners a tad confused.

For me, this last couple of weeks it’s been about the rest of my body not being able to do what the heart is ready and up for. I’ve been injured!

Now, if any of you know runners, we’re not a happy injured person, but we can tolerate injury if we can do the cause-and-effect cycle—ideally with a funky bit of strapping and an ice bath to aid recovery. When, like in my case, it’s just a complete lack of oomph for no apparent reason (leaving my right thigh feeling like a soggy tea cloth), I’m somewhere between morose and furious.

So, as an enraged Eeyore, I’ve been a good little runner and taken some time off. I’ve not run for two weeks. I’ve cut back on the walking and the climbing and generally tried to be a bit lazy…

Has it worked?

Honest answer—not sure.

It’s not wrong, but it’s not right…

But it’s no worse after having run a 5k and a touristy 5 miles (an advantage of my day job is sometimes my runs look like this): Buckingham Palace (the Queen was in, her standard was flying), Trafalgar Square, House of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, 10 Downing Street, and more modern sightseeing attractions like the London Eye.

It seems wrong to moan about anything other than my heart condition, and I know for many my level of activity is a dream and I’ve lost friends recently who never got to reach my decrepit age of 41. However, if we accept that we are more than our heart conditions, we need to learn to moan about other things as well and accept that moaning as being part of life.

This will be especially true as collectively we get older; our aches and pains will multiply, our eyesight and hearing is likely to start to deteriorate.

Isn’t that a wonderful thing?

A couple of generations ago, less than 50 years ago, many of us (including me) wouldn’t have made it to adulthood. And now I’m moaning about getting old—with a huge grin on my face.

So join me in a good moan about your aches and pains, your failing eyesight and your dodgy hearing—and smile while you do it, cos I’m off for a run.

Marathon runner, GUCH (Grown Up with Congenital Heart Disease), long-distance hiker, charity trustee, patient advocate and whisky lover—Paul Willgoss is all of these and more. A member of the Most Honourable Order of the British Empire, his efforts both in front and behind the scenes for those with congenital heart defects have been recognized at the highest levels in his native U.K.

Copyright ©2013 ACHA

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