Thursday, July 14, 2022


            I suspect that many of you have experienced some version of what I describe here.          


            Our neighbor, Karen, mentioned that some friends and family were just in a conversation where they all shared the various aches and pains they were suffering. She mentioned that this is an “old person conversation.” I agreed, noting to myself that Kim and I are at least ten years older than she is.


            These age-appropriate aches and pains have reached a new level for Kim. Without going into all the details, she is experiencing serious and, so far, undiagnosed pain in her knees, legs and feet, and some days the pain extends all over her body. She has trouble walking, using a cane her father made and, sometimes, a deluxe walker that generous neighbors loaned us. She can go up and down stairs, but only one step at a time, with both hands grabbing the bannister. In fact, I have become a combination bannister and grab-bar, helping her along when she falters and, much of the time, helping her up off the couch or chair by linking elbows and rocking up. On the plus side, we are holding hands a lot.


            This has led me to a strange mixture of feelings. At times I am overwhelmed by sympathy and helplessness because of Kim’s suffering. I can’t ease her pain except for the back rub while the toaster is doing its thing at breakfast. There is no way I can take her pain into my pain-free body, even partially. Helpless. Various pain remedies, including one narcotic, have not helped, though she does take Tylenol regularly, and the Celebrex appears to have reduced the swelling in her ankles.


            But I’m not entirely helpless. I have stepped up my game in looking after the house and yard, and I feel really good about doing this. I like to feel useful, and I experience it as an expression of love. So, in the yard I pull weeds (after Kim has given clear instructions about which ones are weeds – usually, but not always, the healthy ones). I do the dinner dishes. I make the bed. Kim still does the laundry, but she is instructing me about her own variations on the simple “put the clothes in and push the right button” guy approach. Kim still does most of the cooking, but I help her (recently, grating a pile of apples and carrots for muffins), and I reach for things because she is not mobile or agile enough to reach them herself. I’m learning – slowly. I am learning to get carry-out from the Torch Lake Café or the Eastport market, just a mile from our home – though nothing beats Kim’s cooking. Kim has shown me details about cleaning off the sink and counters – it would not have occurred to me to clean the underside of the rubber sleeve at the top of the drain in the kitchen sink. Again – I experience this as an expression of love. It’s good to feel part of a team.


            We hope to move beyond simply coping with the pain. We hope to get a diagnosis, which does not yet seem a priority among the doctors she has seen. Genne’, with her physical therapy background, and Barbara, a nurse, agree that we should insist on one, though it’s much easier to offer painkillers. Genne’ and Barbara both think there are probably several factors causing the pain. I’ll spare you my ignorant version of the details, but we hope something can be done – the right medicine, ice, rest, stretching, exercise, maybe even surgery. (My usual remedies – coffee and alcohol – are unlikely candidates.) Kim treated her pain at breakfast by moving quickly to grab her camera when she saw a dragonfly on our window screen, eating a bug. 


The dragonfly was nearly transparent in the early morning, but it completely changed colors after drying.

And we returned to one of our favorite butterfly paths for a brief exploration over uneven ground. Seeing and photographing nature takes her away from her pain, at least for a while. We are looking optimistically into a future where Kim can chase butterflies freely and get in and out of the bathtub.


            At the same time that we feel this hope, we also are contemplating what is next if Kim’s health does not improve, and if taking care of this home that we love becomes too much. We are getting help with the cleaning, we are still hoping for help with weeding and other yardwork (though I can do much of it), and we are looking into how we can get in-home nursing care. But we may have to sell our home and start over. Kim has always been more comfortable with change than I am, but undertaking a move, with her levels of pain, fatigue and immobility, is daunting even to contemplate.


            We’ll see . . .. 


            But again, being engaged with Kim in this enterprise only deepens the love we share.




  1. So sorry to hear about Kim’s pain. Doctors mask pain with drugs rather than find out the source of the pain. As a result, the opiate overdoses. Hoping doctors can help Kim. One has to be persistent. Kim has a good advocate, Dave.

    1. Not all doctors are like that, Most good doctors lookout for the total well-being of the patient. Pain is a really difficult thing to diagnose. Unfortunately, a pill has become the easiest thing for someone to run to. We have to be really good advocates for ourselves, I know that Kim and David are smart & good at that.

  2. I’m sure it’s overwhelming everyday! You have both conquered amazing things in your lives! I have to say you both always have a smile 😊 on your face & look ready to take on the world! Always a positive attitude & happy to embrace your next activity! You would never have any idea that you were going through all the trouble. I think that’s what we do, we don’t want other to see our pain, whether it is physical or emotional, we trend to show our best sides. I’ve had horrible lower back pain for about 13 years now. Just a silly accident carrying a box way too heavy. Some days can’t even walk out the front door! I refuse to have it take me down or take medicine for it. I’m Stubborn and would never want to get hooked on anything. An occasional beer seems to take my mind off it. Live for the backyard hot tub that totally takes the pain away! The best solution really is just exercising, walking and keeping yourself going every day, keeping busy & totally forgetting about it. For me, it’s thinking of the next wonderful class I can share with other people. Isn’t that what the world is really about, our God, wonderful families, continually learning, our friends and enjoying the people around us. Together let make the world a better place, make everyday count for us all! Sending lots of pain free hugs & love to you both 💕

  3. Sorry my name didn’t come up I didn’t realize where to put it