My good friend, Jo Harding is the epitome of resourcefulness. In this offering, she shares her secret to a long and happy life, describing how she has approached major surgery for the replacement of a hip joint damaged by Osteoarthritis. She explains how the establishment of a good balance of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual factors have facilitated her healing…
I was admitted for orthopaedic surgery in July 2017, aged 92. This was the second replacement, the previous one was completed in 2013, and proved very successful.
When discharged I had a 10 day convalescence in my son’s home and slept a great deal; I received full care and all needs were met by family. I returned to my ground floor flat to live alone and was granted a daily visit by a carer to help with essentials such as ablutions and making the bed, etc.
Throughout this period I continued a daily practice of meditation/mindfulness, which I had begun in the 1970’s. This has always been an anchor of inner quietness and tranquillity throughout the years. As I became older it was a strong factor in maintaining the balance mentioned above and enabled me to focus well, to be articulate and communicate appropriately. I added to this the practice of daily Yoga and regular exercise. When I became arthritic in my 80’s I joined a “mobility Yoga” group and found the company of others very helpful in recovering flexibility after surgery.
Another crucial factor is movement. My neurosurgeon suggested that my best option for future wellbeing is to keep moving, take exercise daily, using pain killers if necessary in order to maintain my activities. I use a three-wheeled walker to ensure good balance and prevent falling, and this enables me to walk at a brisk normal speed. I am not lame and have full use of my legs and knees, go out each day for at least 40 minutes, shopping for the day’s meals and other errands. Without the walker I am really rather unstable – with it I have the benefits of normal walking, and avoid the need to carry anything. It has been possible to travel on my own when visiting widely in the U.K. and to go alone when visiting other countries, using the services readily available.
As I have grown older I am more conscious of the need for good diet. I am mainly Vegetarian, but eat fish to help with bones; dairy, proteins and large amounts of fruit and vegetables. I eat small amounts of complex carbohydrates as I am less active now and need less energy foods. I am careful to avoid putting on weight; if I do, I put it right quickly by having a “no carbs’” day.
Another factor which completes my general health, and rather like the lubrication of a working engine, is to have a faith. This provides me with a model of behaviour and positive life affirming attitudes, which create happiness. This includes service to others, and a kindly tongue.
Also prayer, added to daily meditation, gives me a deeper access to the “source of my being’” and a sense of belonging with the world of nature and a relationship with the Universe, of which I am part. Through my faith I have learned that my own happiness depends on my contribution to the happiness of others. For many years I was an Agnostic/Atheist. In middle age I awoke to another part of myself which had been dormant – a spiritual consciousness with potential for another kind of growth… I began another stage of myself.
This now includes a sense of wellbeing and safety in all times and conditions, and an awareness that physical ageing is not the most important factor in my life experiences.
Last but not least, having a sense of humour and not taking myself too seriously.
– Jo Harding, 2018