Category Archives: Aging

“TLCing” the Body for the Future

6583616433_50981b88c3When they said aging with a disability was a serious business, they weren’t joking. I’m only 34 and I’m already feeling some massive aging issues. If this is what I have to look forward to for the next 30 or so years, I’ve decided to take some serious action.

It all started a couple of years ago when I drove for 6 hours straight. After the drive, my wrist felt like it had fallen asleep. No big deal, right? But it was much more serious than that. Little did I know I had strained my wrist muscles to the point of overuse, and getting them back to normal would be an almost impossible task.

When you get a strained joint or muscle as someone with a mobility disability and you have limited movement in other areas, preserving what you have is critical. In fact, this is key throughout our entire lives. We need to be obsessed with joint and muscle preservation and begin thinking of our bodies as precious works of art.

I’ve decided to employ a few different strategies to make sure I do whatever I can to treat my body with TLC and get as much use out of it as I can. The first thing is monitoring my movement for the day and making sure I don’t over-exert myself. This means not typing 8 hours straight and then cooking a huge meal. Partitioning of your chores will protect your body.

I also make sure I get enough sleep, eat healthy, exercise and drink plenty of water; all the important things we should all be doing anyways, disabled or not. It’s easy however to neglect your body when you have a disability and are alone often, which is the case for me, as no one is here to stop me from doing something stupid.

I’ve also had another age-related injury in the last year – burstitis of the shoulder. Joy of joys. This strange sounding condition is one athletes usually get, fluid on the shoulder limiting mobility, but since people disabilities strain their joints in some cases almost as much as athletes, we too are susceptible to this condition. Stretching and cortisone shots can help.

Isometric weight training however is another thing I’m doing and is one of the biggest things people disabilities should learn how to do. This specialized weight training makes sure to never over-exert your muscles, and instead has you apply pressure to small areas of the muscle, slowly building up strength without tuckering your poor muscles out.

And the last thing I’ve decided to do for the time being – see a massage therapist on a regular basis. Giant knots in the muscles we use are inevitable, but if we don’t get them rubbed out, they will just get worse until the muscles shorten, making it hard to move.

It is pretty scary thinking about what may happen in the future when it comes to our bodies. Aging is the one thing we all fear. However by planning and preserving, we can give ourselves of a bit peace of mind, and that can help tremendously.

How do you give your body TLC for the long run?

Photo courtesy of Flickr CC

Aging gracefully despite the “easy wheelchair life”

My friend Carrie, also a wheelchair-user, but not from a spinal cord injury (she has cerebral palsy: moderately so and can push herself in a manual chair), is a my only friend in a wheelchair who lives in my area. We met one another at David Bowie’s “Reality” tour in 2005, and she’s a woman with some mighty keen insight. 10 years older than me, she looks about 28 years old.

See, Carrie has this amusing theory that people who use wheelchairs from childhood on up, end up looking younger than their real age most of their lives. We live a “soft life” she theorizes, because well, for many of us we have no other choice. Spending hours in the sun working for example, not many of us could do that even if we wanted. So we end up with the skin of an angel, and love it or hate it – getting carded into our 40’s.

BUT…but….some of us ladies in chairs still worry about aging. Even I know, despite my wheelchair life, that aging is inevitable. So…since I like to be prepared, staving off aging has been a concern of mine since my early twenties. I started my “Be Smart with Your Skin Care” regimen at age 22, with Oil of Olay + sunscreen St. Ives Apricot Scrub being my big two.

I first began using Oil of Olay after using Lubriderm lotion on my face for several year. This is body lotion; an amateur mistake on my part. When I began to notice my pores were bigger than they should be and my skin was looking ashy, I knew I was over-moisturizing and needed to find a lotion made for the face. It felt old making this transition, but it was time, and Oil of Olay was the face lotion I reached for.

My grandma, mom and now myself have all used their products, and I’ve been an avid user of Oil of Olay’s Complete lotion w/ SPF 15 for daily use now for over a decade, and it has served me well. It’s definitely done it’s work these past ten years. And, it’s working. I get SO many comments from people who think I’m younger. It’s really all about moisturizing, staying out of the sun and water, water, water (for consumption that is).

Then I discovered the best face scrub/exfoliator on the market, St. Ives Apricot Face Scrub. As a quad, exfoliating our skin is a must to keep it in tip-top shape, and this stuff is very reasonably priced. It removes all of the old skin cells from your face beautifully, revealing glowy skin you didn’t even know you even had.

What I love about St. Ives too, other than the fact that it’s cheap and it works amazingly well, is that it can be used anywhere on the body. As a quadriplegic prone to skin issues, exfoliating the skin can help immensely long term.

Rub it all over your body in the shower (in circles), clockwise and counterclockwise, and do this a couple of times a week. My skin stays in great shape and a nice bonus, I feel so much prettier whenever I do this. Amazing stuff.

My ultimate goal at some point however is to not care about aging and to embrace the now, but that’s not easy…even from where I sit. I just hope I continue to get carded for at least a few more years. After that, go ahead and bring on the “maams.” I’m ready.

Image courtesy of Tanel Teemusk

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