A Conversation with OH


We were going upstairs.

I was ahead of OH, but we were both struggling with fatigue after a long day doing not very much at all1

Me: ‘Aaaaagghhh! I’m sure there are five more stairs here today. Who’s been adding steps to our staircase?’

OH: ‘I dunno!’

We made it to the top and he paused.

OH: ‘Can you count?’

Me: ‘You want me to count? Why? What do you want me to count?’

OH: ‘Oh, nothing … I just wondered, because I’m sure it was more than five!’

We are in our early sixties. I’m sure we shouldn’t be feeling like this all the time. Perhaps it’s because we’ve been ill for so long, on and off, with this fluey bug thing we picked up back in November? And I do know that interrupted sleep can really do a number on you, and we both wake far too many times in the night …

I know early sixties isn’t old, as such, but we feel it. OH has various disorders, including Type 2 diabetes (though he doesn’t really accept that he’s any more than ‘borderline’) and now has a trapped nerve in his shoulder which is causing his hand to go numb, which means he drops things. I have various disorders, including fibromyalgia, and a cough which has persisted for months. Neither of us has any energy. So we are off to another round of ‘further investigations’; he for physio and an appointment with a orthopaedic consultant, and I for a chest x-ray (for starters). Oh, deep joy.

We know people of around our own age – and some older than us – who do exciting things like cycling around Peru, or climbing mountains, etc. And we want to know how they do it! To me, these days, cooking dinner is an achievement, and I have a huge dog bed in the bath which is waiting to be rinsed because I got halfway through washing it and my neck and shoulders seized up.

Is this the Winter Blues, do you think? I mean, we both did quite a lot of walking – stairs and everything – when we were in Italy last year, and an envelope through the door yesterday reminded me of a day-long dog show trade stand I usually manage to pull off (with help from OH, of course), and which they’d like me to do again this year. Anyway, I don’t feel depressed. Just old and creaky.

I know what you’re going to say. You’re going to ask when was the last time I used that treadmill, aren’t you? And I’m going to say ‘I can’t remember, but at the moment it’s covered in boxes which I tossed up there when I was tidying up for Christmas’ and then you’re going to say ‘Well, there you are, then!’ in that way that people do, and you’d be right. So let’s take that as read.

Tomorrow morning, I promise. I will at least get those boxes sorted and dust it off, okay?

And then, we’ll see…

1 But which felt like a long day doing a heck of a lot of things on account of the fact that we’ve both been unwell for so long. We’d walked the dogs and been shopping, and made cups of tea, stuff like that.

26 thoughts on “A Conversation with OH

  1. Elaine 18th January 2015 / 3:11 pm

    Oh my God you sound like Dave and I, and I just turned 60 (ok I’m close to turning 61, but it feels like my last birthday was just the other day), and Dave’s got a couple of years to go yet. I keep thinking about my parents at my age, and how much they did and how social they were, and they weren’t particularly “fit”. I’m lucky if I’m up past 8 p.m. most nights.

    • Jay 18th January 2015 / 6:00 pm

      Even thought it’s kind of reassuring, I’m very sorry to hear that you and Dave have the same problem, Elaine!

      Yes, I think of my parents, too. Well, Mum, anyway. My memory of my father in his late fifties is of a man who worked hard, but often came home from work and lay down on the couch and fell asleep. There again, he didn’t make 60 because he had a series of heart attacks and died. But Mum was always up and doing, being busy, cooking, knitting, popping round to see this person or that person, running a cub pack and working too.

      I do stay up past eight, but then I don’t get up early in the morning!

  2. Carol 18th January 2015 / 3:59 pm

    Stairs that grow taller every day are the very reason husband and I got a one story house when we moved here. I blame my low energy on the chemo that ended 7 years ago, but I know the reality – I give in to my lazy tendencies and hate exercise done for the sake of exercising. It must be disguised.
    But truly, I think your stairs could be growing – I think perhaps a curse placed by the star of the photo at the bottom of the stairs, the one with whom you have grown disenchanted.

    • Jay 18th January 2015 / 6:01 pm

      Ah, this would be OH’s solution, too, but I tell him ‘use it or lose it’! If I had no stairs to climb, I’m pretty sure I would soon be totally unable to climb stairs, so I’m determined to keep them, even if I have to go up on my hands and knees sometimes! Something that is so hard to do surely must be good for me!

      You could be right about the guy at the bottom there. I think maybe he’s heard us plotting about taking him down and putting up the Norman Rockwell posters …

  3. nick 18th January 2015 / 5:22 pm

    I wish I knew the answer to the sudden fatigue syndrome. Most of the day I have plenty of energy but I often doze off while watching TV in the evening. But it isn’t real tiredness because the chances are I’ll wake up at 4 am the next morning!

    Jenny is always coming over tired and going for a nap, and she’s not even 60.

    Some people would say it’s a modern-day syndrome of information overload plus too much multi-tasking plus a constant sense of urgency, which simply wears us all out. Somebody needs to find the answer PDQ!

    • Jay 18th January 2015 / 6:04 pm

      It seems to be quite widespread, this problem, doesn’t it? Perhaps we are simply a generation who expect to feel young forever so we don’t cope well with the aging process?

      Or perhaps it is that information overload thing? I know for sure that if I play any kind of online game in the evenings I am snookered as far as sleeping goes. Too much visual input, flashing, jumping things all over the place – even though I turn the music off as a matter of habit, I think it messes with our brain chemistry.

      • nick 18th January 2015 / 7:16 pm

        When I think how my parents spent their spare time – doing nothing much except reading the papers and watching TV – and then I consider how our generation spends it – Facebook, Twitter, the internet, online shopping and banking etc – it’s not really surprising we’re all knackered.

        But I think Babs is right too. Regular exercise does keep the body ticking over. I walk for at least 30 minutes a day and I also do physical exercises. I’m sure that helps.

        • Jay 18th January 2015 / 10:34 pm

          Yep, you’re right. We walk at least 20 minutes twice a day with the dogs. There are some days when we really don’t want to go out there, and of course, if we are ill, then one or both of us might not go out at all, but all being well, yes, we do it.

          I’m told by the doctor that the current NHS guidelines on a good amount of exercise to take to keep things ticking over is 20 minutes three times a week. That’s absolutely ridiculous – nowhere near enough! And I’m not at all sure that 20 minutes twice a day is enough, either.

  4. Babs 18th January 2015 / 6:53 pm

    I don’t now what to say, other than both Mo and I (73 & 69 respectively) have never felt so good, since we started regular exercise. It really does work wonders and seem to overcome a lot of would be ills. I don’t want to come across as preaching, but it really has made a huge change to our energy levels. Dust it off, girl 😉

    • Jay 18th January 2015 / 10:35 pm

      Yes Ma’am! Right away. Um … is it OK if I wait till the morning?

      I know you’re right, Babs. I always feel better if I’m exercising more, but then I go and sprain and ankle or my back seizes up and I’m out of action for a while .. then I get lazy. I can’t deny it. I don’t LIKE exercising!

    • Jay 18th January 2015 / 10:40 pm

      Good grief! Well, I too have a number of death certificates and they do have some odd things on them. It might not have been the current thinking, but just the thinking of that doctor who couldn’t find a better way to describe what had happened. I wonder what her symptoms were?

      I have a certificate that says one of my ancestors died of ‘decline’ (after childbirth) and another which says that a publican ancestor died of ‘gastro-enteritis and syncope’, which makes me visualise him slightly drunk at the top of the stairs, passing out, and falling down them!

      • Birdie 19th January 2015 / 2:18 am

        Ah, another geneology lover! I also have death certificates and they do say the strangest thing. Some are sad, like a great, great, great, great aunt that died because she was running with scissors. She was just a child and I am convinced that the story of running with scissors started with her. Or the doctor was sending a message to all children to not run with scissors.

        • Jay 19th January 2015 / 3:31 pm

          Oh no! How very sad. 🙁 I always feel sad when I discover a child who died young. I have a great uncle who died at about twelve years old. One day I’ll get the certificate because I keep wondering what happened to him. I also have a family where three of them died within a month, which was probably an epidemic of some kind. Poor people!

          Yes, I am another genealogy nut, and planning to go to the Who Do You Think You Are show in May where there are a lot of resources, lectures and experts to help with dating photographs etc. Should be fun!

  5. Rob Lenihan 18th January 2015 / 9:02 pm

    I’m so sorry that you and OH are ailing like this, Jay. If I could cook worth a damn I’d fly out there and make you both pots of chicken soup–but I think if it’s best if you avoid my cooking, so I’ll send you healing vibes and prayers instead.

    Don’t be in rush to use that treadmill. Yes, exercise has many excellent benefits, but maybe it’s best that you get clear of this illness first and then hit the (stationary) road.

    Please do take care of yourself and get well soon!

    • Jay 18th January 2015 / 10:36 pm

      Thanks Rob! I’d love you to come over, with or without chicken soup, but maybe better to wait till I’ve shrugged this thing off, huh?

  6. Rob Lenihan 18th January 2015 / 10:44 pm

    All right, but you KNOW it’s gonna happen!

    • Jay 19th January 2015 / 3:32 pm

      Yay! We’ll look forward to it! I tell OH about you and your posts occasionally. We’ve already decided that if we come over to your part of the States again, you’ll get asked out to dinner. 😉

  7. Cathy 18th January 2015 / 11:03 pm

    Looks like everyone else has replied with the same words of wisdom – it comes to us all sometime.

    All I can say is get yourself well before you up the ante where exercise is concerned – trying to do planned exercise while you aren’t 100% fit won’t so you any good. I’m sure you eat a good range of foods but just maybe a course of Vit B might help.

    Take care

    • Jay 19th January 2015 / 8:08 pm

      This is true, and one reason I keep falling off the exercise wagon. If I’m not well, and try to exercise, I end up feeling a hundred times worse. It’s a Catch 22 situation…

  8. Ron 19th January 2015 / 12:43 am

    Jay, it’s ironic you posted about this because the store I work in has three floors. We have stairs AND an elevator, so customers can choose which one they wish to use. I personally, take the stairs because it keeps my legs strong and gives me a little cardio workout. But I have noticed that my knees sometimes bother me, so I will sometimes take the stairs down, but the elevator up.

    Also, living in a city, I walk everywhere, so that’s my basic exercise. I also do some yoga and stretching, so that seems to keep me pretty much in shape. I’m not “gym person” so whatever exercise I do has to come natural.

    LOVE the picture of your staircase!

    • Jay 19th January 2015 / 8:10 pm

      I try to take the stairs when I can, Ron. On good days, I’ll go up and down our stairs four or five times when I have to go upstairs just to get a little more exercise out of it. But I’m interested that for you, your gammy knee makes it easier to go down rather than up. Most people with knee problems I know (including me) find the opposite; going up is easier than coming down. I suppose it depends just what the damage is!

  9. Valerie Daggatt 19th January 2015 / 11:45 am

    I live in a bungalow which doesn’t help when it comes to using stairs! Don’t overdo the exercise until the ailments are sorted unless you can develop a sitting down sort of routine. Only now am I feeling my age (80) but I won’t give up my outside interests until I have to. Stay positive and best wishes to OH as well as yourself. I have a poorly husband which makes me grateful for my own not-too-bad state of health.

    • Jay 19th January 2015 / 8:12 pm

      Hi Valerie!

      Thank you so much for the good wishes! Yes, I do know about the exercise and wellness thing, by personal experience, I simply can’t do it if I’m not well.

      Not giving up outside interests is the way to go, I think. My Mum was the same and it was only really in the last five or six years of her life that she had to give in – she had inflammatory polyarthritis, bless her.

  10. Kathy G 19th January 2015 / 1:45 pm

    I find that once the holidays are over and January cold settles in it’s hard for me to get motivated to exercise (even though I know it’s good for me and I’ll feel better when I do).

    • Jay 19th January 2015 / 8:13 pm

      No kidding! I honestly think that OH and I wouldn’t venture outside at all, some days, if it weren’t for the dogs needing their walks.

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