Aging With Attitude Archives At the ready to smell the roses

At the ready to smell the roses

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I read that if you take into account the spinning of the earth plus the earth’s orbit around the sun plus the movement of our solar system, it is estimated that at any given time we are actually traveling about 67,000 miles an hour. I do not think this number takes into account that our solar system is probably moving through the galaxy and the galaxy’s movement through the universe. Some astrophysicists are theorizing that our universe has stopped expanding from the Big Bang and is now contracting.

I find reading articles like this helps me put things into perspective. I feel like anything that I have to worry about is tiny compared to what the universe is going through. For instance, what if the only thing you have known your whole existence is to soak in like a sponge expanding and then start squeezing to get rid of everything you had previously soaked up? I often hear people talk about their young children being like sponges. Parents report seeing in their offspring’s eyes the spark of understanding a concept. Could that spark be like a little Big Bang?

I was having trouble with the Internet the other day and I asked my neighbor to see what he thought about it. For the first time, I understood the difference between the router and the modem. I have had numerous people tell me what to do to get it to work, but for some reason his words made the concept soak into my brain so now I understood how the darn things relate to each other. He did not fix it, but he taught me how to think about fixing it so I could do it myself. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” coined by Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie, comes to mind.

When I was a nurse working in a local hospital, one of the freedoms the nurses had was to give an ice pack to patients any time they requested it or if we determined it would provide comfort. Injuries appear to benefit greatly from quickly applying an ice pack to the offended area. I learned in nursing school that the physiology behind this is that cold decreases the body’s tendency to send in too many helper cells, causing the area to congest. Congestion slows down the healing process and leads to inflammation. If a patient asked for a heat pack, the doctor had to be notified and a doctor’s order had to be implemented if approved.

I was with a friend the other day and she took a nasty fall, injuring her leg. The first thing I thought of was to get an ice pack to put on the bruised and swelling area. It was clear that while it was a bad bruise, nothing seemed to be broken. Another person there said she had read an article that said scientists are looking into the procedure of putting ice on an injury. This first aid procedure might not be healthy for the body in the long run.

This information threatened knowledge that I soaked in a long time ago. Not only had I been using this technique for providing comfort for patients, but also for myself and loved ones for decades. My reaction was defensive, as I did not want to let go of something I was sure was true.

Later that day, when I got home to use the Internet – which was now working because someone taught me to fish – I was surprised at what I found. Two articles said that researchers were looking into the use of ice for injuries. Apparently, no medical research had ever been done on this widely utilized approach to providing ice for swelling. Some researchers are theorizing that there are healing hormones that are road blocked from their responsibilities when cold is applied to an injury. So far, the scientists who are interested are in England and Canada.

Let me be clear about this: the jury is still out. Just like a lot of science, there is nothing definitive and new approaches are discovered all the time. Take, for instance, coffee, or red wine, for that matter. It seems there are scientific opinions on both sides of the fence for these potentially healthy or deadly beverages. Apparently there are local sports medicine professionals who are taking the middle road and only icing for the first 20 minutes after an injury and then not again. Additionally, the use of compression and elevation helps to slow the inflammatory process altogether.

The other part of the healing puzzle is to keep the injured area moving. I am assuming this is when there is not a broken bone involved, but then I am relying on my nursing education, which I am growing less confident with as each day passes.

I have a vivid memory of going out dancing with a friend and when “YMCA,” by the Village People was playing, I was apparently paying more attention to spelling with my upper body that my lower body became befuddled and I injured my ankle. The emergency room was filled with people who were clearly more injured than I was so I asked if I could leave and come back later if needed. The home-care instructions were to ice 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off, elevate and rest. I dutifully did so and never went back to the doctor.

The other piece of my memory was that I kept rotating my ankle because stretching the muscles and tendons in that area felt good. It was a little painful, like just on that sweet edge of pain in a good massage. I also remember being amazed at how quickly I healed and even with the use of ice, my ankle is not one of the joints in my body that bothers me at least four decades later.

I have often theorized that my knees seem to be considerably older than I am. I used to use ice when I had an inflammatory response to pushing them too far. Now I use heat and that seems to help at least just as much. Of course, none of these theories keep me from ocean swimming every chance I get. Quite honestly, all pain disappears when I can get into a cold body of water, at least temporarily. Additionally, when I get in a hot tub I also feel better, at least temporarily.

Successful travel of any kind requires flexibility: holding on, letting go, expanding and contracting. Whether a universe or a human whirling through space, life goes by quickly. Slowing down enough to smell the roses and perhaps do a little fishing is something to add to your “to do” list.

Lenora Trussell, R.N., is an end-of-life tour guide who is available for consultations, presentations and workshops. Her email is lenora@lenoratrussell.com where inquiries, suggestions, and comments are welcome.

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