A few things I can never do again…

The interview with Linda Ronstadt on CBS Sunday Morning this week was poignant. She learned that she had Parkinson’s Disease in 2000 and has since lost her ability to sing. She is however making the most of it:

“These days she spends much of her time reading. “I can’t do a lot of things that are active,” she said. “I can’t spend very much time on my feet, or even very much time sitting up. I have to kind of lounge around. But I’m lazy, so it’s a good thing that I lounge! So, I’m glad to have the leisure time. I have a huge stack of books that I need to read.” 

 Does she think much about singing now?

“Oh, I can sing in my brain; I sing in my brain all the time. But it’s not quite the same as doing it physically. You know, there’s a physical feeling in singing that’s just like skiing down a hill, except better, ’cause I’m not a very good skier!”

This is how I feel about so many activities I did in my previous life as a long-distance walker and high elevation hiker. Not to mention the many things I loved like yoga before my arm and shoulder began hurting constantly.

Laura and rasta close upThis is one part of aging that is very hard to take, and yet it reminds me how fortunate I was to have at least experienced these things at some point in my life. And for all of you who feel what I call ‘pathologically optimistic’ about my limitations, between a traumatic brain injury, fractured ribs and COPD which barely allows me to live at 7000 feet, these disabilities will not be changing in this lifetime.

What I find particularly difficult to deal with are the doubters and blamers I sometimes run into. They have no compassion for my losses, but instead blame me for my injuries. They judge me instead of supporting my difficulties, perhaps because they have not experienced any serious limitations yet themselves.

I felt quite strong through most of my 50s. I injured my brain and my ribs on a bike ride through Fort Collins in 2008. My 60s have been extremely challenging so far, and it doesn’t help when I feel criticized and judged for my limited ability to be active. Now I must carefully pick and choose which activities I can complete and enjoy. Everything takes more breathe and effort than in the past.

We will all experience disabilities as we age. We will all die. Please don’t blame others for reminding you of that.


10 thoughts on “A few things I can never do again…

  1. Everyone has limitations, at any age. Some are legal, some are based on knowledge or skill, and some are because of things that simply happen going through life. I suspect the doubters and trolls simply try to mask their own insecurities by attacking others.

    As we age, however, our combat scars are a part of our history and what made us who we are. We also (hopefully) gain in some skills and knowledge, so that we can have new avenues to pursue that more than offset our losses. Plus we don’t have to worry about build careers from scratch in this increasingly robotic age.

    All told, I’d rather be old today, COPD and all.


  2. My cousin’s wife is in hospice (brain cancer) right now – age 61. Having also lost my childhood best friend (age 63 when she passed, from her second cancer) I am convinced that living into our senior years is a privilege, not granted to everyone, and few of us reach that age without some kinds of scars. Shame on anyone blaming you for your scars Perhaps I have that attitude due to my late father, who suffered a TBI before I was born, which left him suffering from seizures for the rest of his life, but always maintained an optimistic attitude. Do injuries or disabilities make anyone less of a person? NO. We all have our struggles. Who can judge another?


  3. My dad suffered from COPD, emphysema, and heart problems. To look at him, he appeared perfectly healthy, but of course he wasn’t at all. It bothered him that people would see him climb from his car after parking in a handicapped space and shake their heads—some would even comment—as if he had done something wrong by parking there. But truthfully, walking any distance was a chore for him. He could do it, but had to stop to catch his breath after only five or ten steps. Too many people don’t realize that just because they cannot see the battle someone is fighting doesn’t mean they aren’t fighting it. It takes courage and strength to live with chronic health issues.


    • Thank you for sharing this Lisa. Yes, I sometimes get dizzy just walking down the street at 7,000 feet elevation. I wish others were more understanding and compassionate… The criticism gets to me sometimes.


  4. Laura, I discovered in my 30’s that I have Lupus. I always knew there were some issues with my immune system, but was forced to submit to endless and expensive tests before I got a diagnosis. through the rest of my 30’s, 40’s, and early 50’s, I was able to soldier through the “flares” (attacks). However, once I approached 60, things became much more intense. I don’t have the stamina or stubbornness to fight each and every day to keep up a 100-mile roundtrip commute to work, but I can’t afford to quit or retire. At work (I’m in IT), I face ageism from co-workers who are younger than my own children. I find myself repressing a lot of anger when these young “geniuses” make condescending or downright cruel remarks directly to me, and I wonder if I can possibly keep going until I’m 70 (I will be depending on Social Security for most of my retirement income). I also have a grown daughter who lives with me, and claims that she is unable to find a job because she has “emotional instability”…so I am her sole means of support. I also wonder why our generation is expected to carry all the weight of this world’s problems, and why we are supposed to fix them. I understand loneliness, and I am just too tired to seek out friends.


  5. Wow Vicki, that sounds so difficult to face everyday. Yes. I hear stories all the time about boomers who want to give up… No, we are not wimps, we are just tired of being responsible for everything and everybody!


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