Staying positive through health problems

Living with health problems and medical conditions can be a struggle at any age. Meet six residents who found ways to enjoy life despite health challenges.

Recovering after surgery

“When my back went out, I couldn’t look after my apartment and I moved to senior living. After my third surgery on my back, I was lying in the hospital when the staff told me that many people my age who’ve had the same operation tend to give up; they don’t care if they can ever walk again. The pain was unbearable but I was determined to get back on my feet. I started going to the fitness classes here. I found that doing the exercises and being social helped me feel better and made me want to persevere. At my last follow-up appointment, the surgeon was amazed. He admitted he did the operation to reduce the pain in my back but he never thought I’d get back to walking. If I’d been living alone in my apartment, I never would have come this far. I know I’m at the end of my life but why not make it the best I can?” –Donnavean

Coping with chronic illness

“I have ataxia and I’m not able to travel anymore. So when my friends go away, I ask them to give me their itinerary. I go back to my computer and look at their hotel, see where they spend their time — it’s wonderful! I’ve been to 94 countries but now I use the computer to travel, listen to music, study old authors and old artists. These days I’m learning about cosmology. The computer is my great buddy. I can punch in anything and it has an answer for me.” –Ray

 Dealing with disability

“I’ve had a disability all my life. I used to walk with a particular gait. When I was in my teens, a family friend noticed I’d become quite self-conscious — it bothered me when others would look at me. My friend said this: ‘Look straight back at those people and you’ll notice they don’t look so hot themselves!’ It made me realize I wasn’t the only person on the street who was different. Now I use a power wheelchair to get around. Is it ideal? No. Could it be worse? Yes. I’m still here enjoying life.” –Catherine

Living with heart disease

“About 35 years ago I was having heart problems. I went to a cardiac clinic and they got me on a diet and an exercise routine. I’ve been at it ever since. Now I’m 90 and I go to the gym three times a week to power walk and do exercises. I rollerblade and ride my motorcycle whenever the weather is nice. Staying active has made a great difference: I lost about 18 pounds and I can do a lot. I haven’t had any angina heart pain in the last 15 years.” –David

Coping after a stroke

“I was a teacher and author. I’ve written 28 books. After I had a stroke, I spent several months in the hospital. I lost a lot of mobility: I couldn’t walk without assistance and now I use a walker to move short distances. Due to health problems, my husband and I were having trouble managing at home so we moved to retirement living. I can’t write much anymore: my arthritis is really bad and I can’t sit at a computer for any length of time. I always thought I was going to be able to write until they carried me out. Unfortunately, the body doesn’t always play fair but I can still enjoy reading. I’m greatly blessed that I have kind and helpful people who bring me books from the library. Thank goodness my eyesight continues to work! –Priscilla

 Living with terminal cancer

“The medical community has told me me I’m dying from two types of cancer, but I’m having no pain. I find that looking out, rather than looking in, is the secret to this business of life. If you’re given a hand to play, you play it. You don’t moan about it. Never mind what might have been. I find it works pretty well for me.” –Ken, who shared this advice months before he passed away earlier this year

Find a BayBridge Senior Living community where you can enjoy the company of good people rising above life’s challenges.  

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