For as long as this blog has been here, I have kept a notebook of thoughts and ideas for future stories. It is a godsend to have when my mind goes blank or, in today's case, when I'm just plain tired, feeling slow and stupid – as from last Thursday's all-day chemo session.
But you don't need to be a cancer patient to be tired. It comes quite naturally with old age and in that notebook, I found a couple of relevant reports from long-time TGB readers that I think most of us can relate to.
Salinda Dahl talked about the common old-age difficulty with sleep:
”Over the past year, sleep has become very elusive,” she wrote, “and despite good advice from herbalists and docs, meditation, lots of exercise, no screens before bed, ETC, the situation persists.
“For now a coping strategy is to take a nap each day, whenever possible. Not only is my capability to function impaired by the tiredness, it's also more difficult to keep a positive attitude. Would love to hear how others deal with this.”
Me too, Salinda, that elusive search for sleep. For more than a decade, unrelated to my cancer, I hardly ever slept more than three or four hours. I tried all the recommended pills, potions and practices to no avail. Each worked for a few weeks, then stopped.
What finally changed is that about six or eight months ago, I remembered that I live in a state where cannabis is legal so I tried that. Wow! A full night's sleep – seven or eight hours. Consistently, night after night.
But before long, that stopped working too. I asked one of the cannabis dispensary “bud masters” who told me that most sleep aids wear off in time and I should rotate different kinds – an edible, a tincture, etc. One of my physicians agreed and now I am happily sleeping through the night most of the time.
What works for one person does not necessarily work for others. In my case now, I am grateful to have found a solution. I had almost forgotten what a good night's sleep feels like.
WANING ENERGY AND STAMINA
On the same post as Salinda's comment, Jim Fisher left this note about how his enjoyment of volunteer work in nearby natural areas has raised a new age-related concern:
”As this work has branched out and expanded I have found that being in my 70s also means that I just don’t have the energy and stamina to do everything I want and I worry that I may not live long enough to achieve everything I care about.
“It’s a new, nagging feeling, and one I try to dismiss. But it reoccurs when my hip and back ache or I get too tired to endure City council meetings that drone on for hours, etc.
“I want my youthful body and energy back I guess. Thank goodness and thank you that I know I have a place to share my feelings and know I am not alone.”
Part of having achieved old age, I think, is a growing sadness as our personal end time looms. Of course none of us will finish everything we would want (but you knew that, Jim) and Jim's concern is nothing less than the nature of the human condition that philosophers and thinkers have been seeking answers to for millennia.
For me, it has become easier to live with, easier to think about, since my psilocybin session in December. That doesn't mean I have any answers to the ultimate dilemma of life or even the decline of the energy and stamina we once took for granted.
But I thought I'd throw it out here for us to discuss. I'm eager to hear your thoughts.