The Unexpected Present

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A Coming of Age Story

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After six months, this medical ordeal aged us– physically, mentally, and emotionally. We’re not that old. And it’s not an old story replete with retold versions for old times’ sake, about the good old days, when we were old enough to know better, crying over a rerun of Old Yeller, yet again. Instead, it’s a story of rebirth and renewal, a new beginning believing in New Age as an alternative approach to traditional Western culture, including Western medicine.

Physically, we remain in the throes of the fallout from the medications the very powerful steroids used to combat this rare form of vasculitis that afflicted Yuri. While the drugs saved his life, they left behind a significant and detrimental aftereffect. Since waking from deep sedation, Yuri has had trouble with his eyesight. Blurred vision. Several doctors commented that certain medications can have that effect on vision and we should wait a few weeks to see if it clears up. It hasn’t so we went to Tri-State Eye Physicians and Surgeons. After two hours of an intensive and thorough examination and evaluation, we know that Yuri has developed cataracts from the steroids.

Mentally, we are on point as educated and well-read believing in the real, the science, and discoveries for the betterment of the human condition. Having lived through life’s complications– personally and professionally – we continue revisiting historic moments as witnesses back in the day and now, as older adults, able to transfer this trove of knowledge and experience to the younger age group mostly through storytelling.

Emotionally, fear and frustration still wake us up at night. It’s also a time when I might appear to be overly emotional, perhaps some person(s) may goad me into reacting defensively getting away with it in a way that makes me look like I am the problem. It’s a technique used to distract from real issues. Despite those uneasy moments, I insist on keeping my attention on the practical and physical facts of the matters, past and present hoping that in some future time clarity might come to the ones involved. Or not.

So, to find our way in this Wilderness, we take a ride to our favorite place for peace and solace over recent trials and tribulations. The lake when we would go to Narrowsburg. Private and hidden. A dip in the cold, clear water. Hydrotherapy I call it. At first, Yuri calls me crazy. It can help depression, headaches, stomach problems, joint, muscle, and nerve problems, sleep disorders, and stress. It’s good for heart issues, kidney health, and high blood pressure. The elders of my youth came to this lake for relaxation and the reasons mentioned. They swore by the warm and cold springs that came from mountain glaciers eons ago. It’s a very old place.

My first response is am I crazy? It’s too cold. Last Friday, it was amazing. Yesterday, we returned. Still cold. But as I stop thinking about the cold and allow it to stimulate the health benefits I imagine, it turns out to be an invigorating experience. At first, Yuri pauses, unsure of it, until he sees me going in without hesitation. He says if I go, he goes. Just like in Titanic. It’s a short, but rather pleasant stimulation raising levels of physiological and nerve activity such as the vagus nerve that can actually slow the heart rate in the body (I looked it up).

In essence, while we have become the elders with real-life experiences, we are living in real-time based on true events. We are a valuable resource for overcoming the bumps and bruises associated with things that just happen to happen thus adding to the Unexpected Present. Sometimes we have to relearn the basics, overcome the obstacles that lay before us and try some of the health practices that have been around for millennia. In any case, we feel and are carrying on like the teenagers that we are in our hearts and minds. So be it.

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