Monday, January 27, 2014

There Be Dragons

There's not been much room in my head for writing lately.  My brain has been occupied with, a) staying warm and, b) envisaging our move away from this particular corner of my green Vermont.

The move will be to an "independent living" cottage in a continuing care retirement community (CCRC).   In a CCRC, cottages huddle, like chicks with a mother hen, around a large central building that houses--in addition to progressively diminishing levels of independent living--dining halls, swimming pools, and a whole slew of "activity" rooms.  The activities in these rooms--and in the pools and trails and tennis courts--are what keeps the sun-tanned, white-haired couples featured in the brochures relentlessly smiling and perennially young.

"What?" people who know us exclaim, "you're way too young for this!"  And those who are closer and bolder predict, "You'll get old faster if you go to one of those places."

And, on the first count, they're partly right.  The average age of entry into independent living is seventy-eight, so at sixty-nine my spouse and I are being somewhat precocious.  But although I may look sixty-nine, thanks to CFS I often feel more like a frail eighty-five.

As to the second objection, I've always believed in the use-it-or-lose-it principle:  milk your goats, hang the laundry out to dry, clean out the chicken house, spread the compost, grow your own veggies, or you're bound to deteriorate.  But the fact is that, despite having done all those things, I have deteriorated.  And now I'm thinking that perhaps a different kind of life--where I don't have to garden  or cook or go to the grocery store unless I'm dying to--might remove some pressure and relieve anxiety.

Believe me, though:  in my darker moments I do worry about that second caveat, and can see myself quite clearly a year from now--stoop-backed, shuffle-gaited, old.

I thought that you would be good company as I prepare to parachute into this exotic landscape, which seen from my present altitude abounds in green pastures and waters where I may rest, but whose woods and caverns may well be crawling with monsters.

I'll be posting on this topic frequently.  You can stay safely inside the plane if you like, but cross your fingers for me as I jump out.

18 comments :

  1. Waaaa! I don't want you to move (selfish moi). That said, I'm wondering if you are considering the place my sister was mentioning... we'll talk sometime. It sounds pretty great. Then again, maybe you're heading to warmer climes...

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  2. Not warmer--if anything, slightly chillier.

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  3. I'm hoping it's a place that will welcome your dogs.

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    1. Jan, absolutely! We wouldn't consider a place that didn't.

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  4. That's a hard decision to make, and of course there's stress in making the transition. But I don't think the "use it or lose it" principle really applies when you have ME/CFS. It's more like, do too much and you get worse. And it sounds as though there will plenty to do there, if and when you want to. I've looked into it for the same reasons you mention, and I would do it if I could afford it and if I could keep my cat.

    I hope that the place you're considering has pleasant views and grounds, since it's clear from your writing that you enjoy nature. I also hope that if you decide to make the move, that once you're settled in, it will free up some energy that you'll be able to use on things you enjoy most, like your painting and writing.

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    1. Exactly, Whaledancer. Freeing some energy, lots of flexibility...BTW, we've looked at three CCRCs, and they all welcome two pets (one place even has a dog park). Cats are fine but need to stay inside. These establishments have obviously realized that people really disintegrate without their animals.

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  5. Lali--as long as you are learning and keep your creative juices flowing, you will be happy. I am confident you will have no problem doing that. Move on. Have fun. Talk soon.

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  6. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Chris.

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  7. Your words made me sad, and I really don't know what to say to comfort you. I want you to know that I appreciate your courage, and wish you well in the difficult decisions you must make. My thoughts are with you...

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  8. Rosemary, it's not all sad. In fact, we look forward to some aspects of it, though there is of course a sense of loss.

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  9. I think your new journey sounds exciting. I have always been fascinated by the the Assisted Living Communities that are associated with colleges. I wish you the best in finding the perfect fit!

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  10. Thanks for the good wishes. Apparently baby boomers by the thousands are flocking to these places, albeit at the entry level, which is " Independent Living."

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  11. Yes, I am sorry. I mean Independent Living. : )

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  12. Lali, I am very late to this, but wanted to say I wish you the very best, and think you are very wise to decide to do this now, when you choose to, rather than when you are forced to, which would make it all so much more difficult. Wishing you the very best! (And glad you'll still be here online).

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  13. Yes, I'll still be in my green Vermont, both physically and virtually.

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  14. So I read this on my phone soon after you published it and I am still sad that you have to move. You loved your house on a hill so much -- when we first "met" you were a goat farmer! That you are not sad is good though. Maybe I am just projecting!

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  15. I'm so glad I got to meet you and your family--wasn't it just yesterday? As for my emotional state, it alternates between sadness and relief...

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