EXPERIENCE AS A FLASHLIGHT: In 1994 I experienced what I thought was a heart attack. It wasn’t, but I really thought I was near the end of my life. It was just (did I say just) an anxiety attack. I have since learned anxiety attacks are serious and can mimic heart attacks. I also learned it was related to a condition called vaso vagal which is a sudden drop in blood pressure that can seem like a heart attack too.
Some time afterward I had the shakes after eating a few apple desserts at a mission talk. I couldn’t stop trembling.
That seemed to start a series of medical and physical questions that marked a transition from being a young man to “getting old.”
I wondered if someone had written a book about what it is like to get old. There certainly should be something that helps us understand the physical changes occurring, how body parts are starting to wear down and we can no longer do the things we once could. I remember thinking at the time that life is cruel. Just about the time I was getting my finances under control my body started to wear out. It was not a happy thought.
I found a lump on my right ankle which perplexed the bone doctor. He ordered an immediate MRI and I spent an hour in an MRI (“magnetic resonance imaging.” A strong and expensive magnet is used to scan the body’s healthy and diseased tissue.) with my eyes closed while I prayed.
I never found a book on what it’s like to get old, but I discovered that we humans have an amazing ability to adapt to new situations. What shocked me at first became something I learned to deal with.
Today’s entry is not really a warning about the realities of old age, but rather a light for any young person who thinks getting old is a dark time of life. To anyone who does I am whispering “you can do it. It is sometimes scary and sometimes weird, but we humans have an amazing ability to adapt and accept. Life changes, but so do we as we adapt to things even while we are young.”
Old age is not a scary thing, just like going through youth is not as scary as we thought when first we left the safety of home to interact with the world.
These lessons about life are things you cannot learn in a book, you have to experience them firsthand.