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Do We Take Longer to Heal as We Get Older?

Personal frustration with an injury that occurred six weeks ago.

Some of you who read my work know I have a tendency to do crazy things at times, like throw myself downwards to the floor with little regard for my personal safety. I’m also a person who seldom does things by half measure. Consequently, when such dramatic events occur, I manage to injure myself quite nicely. In the past I’ve usually healed quickly. This time, the process has been long and slow. I first documented this crazy tendency of mine when I wrote The Older You are, The Harder You Fall. This referred to a previous injury.

Six weeks ago I slipped and fell again, resulting in a rather unusual foot injury that defied the people I consulted. The doctor seemed totally perplexed and initially referred me for an xray. When this showed that no bones were broken, he referred me to physiotherapy. This resulted in a piece of writing called The Role of Books in The Injury Recovery Process and more recently, as frustration began setting in, Maintaining Physical Fitness During Recovery Period

My physiotherapist was as equally perplexed as my doctor when my foot failed to respond to her tender attention. Eventually she gave up on me, sent me back to my doctor and recommended I see a sport injury therapist. In the meantime my doctor referred me to have a bone scan at the hospital, but I still have another two weeks before this appointment takes place. Patience is definitely needed when dealing with the public health system. I’ve had time to injure myself three or four my times while waiting!

My doctor, knowing I don’t complain without reason and sensing my frustration at having to hobble everywhere, recommended I continue on my pain killers and referred me to the sport injury clinic. That appointment is to take place in three weeks time, after the bone scan, so even private referrals can have long waiting lists.

Meanwhile I hobble, I swallow paracetamol at a daily rate that probably exceeds my usual yearly rate. I persevere with people passing me as I walk from my classroom to the staffroom and who, once past me, turn and smile and ask how I am. I’ve also started swimming again, which is the only way I can be relatively active.

However, there is a glimpse of hope. I’m now coping on nearly half the pain killers I was two weeks ago. My hobble is gradually becoming more like a walk. I no longer wear a stretchy foot support. And the two scheduled appointments are getting closer.

When I was young an injury such as this would have healed in a moment. Now, no longer as young and flexible as I once was, I seem to injure myself more and take longer to recover. I find this hard to deal with, though I am learning to be more patient than I ever have been.

I want to get back on my bike. I want to go for long walks on these lovely summer evenings New Zealand is currently experiencing. But most of all, I want to look and feel like a normal healthy person. To keep everything in perspective, I remind myself that there are millions of people in the world who experience far more excruciating pain and disability that I’m currently experiencing. But my Christmas wish this year is to get my health and fitness back

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  1. We do heal slower as we get older. Please do not be reckless, take sufficient precaution to avoid injury. I slipped and fell a few years back. I could wobble back, but the effects confronted me much letter. The spinal alignment has got altered somewhat and I do have back aches. The doctors as usual can give only palliative measures.

  2. Its so Important to keep fit and healthy as we get older.
    Injuries do take longer to heal, that’s just a fact of live.
    But I do know quite a few young people who struggle to, and its
    just because they don’t keep fit .
    Hope your soon back to your old-self Val, you sound very positive.

  3. I guess the trick is to stay as physically fit as we can as we age so that we heal a little more quickly.

  4. I believe I am more agile as I age, I used to sprain my ankles often but haven’t done it for years. Maybe I learned to be more careful. I hope your foot heals soon. I can remember hobbling around in pain.

  5. Take good care of yourself in order to avoid not falling down again. I think bones do get weaker as you age. That’s great that you enjoy riding bike@ swimming. And hope Santa makes all your fitness wishes come true this year.

  6. thanks for sharing. I hope you ok soon

  7. Oh dear, I hope you\’ll get better soon.

  8. oh no, Val, must take extra care. My mum, who is much older than you, sprained her shoulder few years ago, recovered. Few months ago, forgot about her past injury, attempted to lift up my toddler nephew when he hugged her during a visit, going home time, sprained again, went to western doctor and after that chinese acupunture too, recovery process very slow (her market friends asked about her absence in market at one stage).
    Know you must be feeling very miserable as you are so active.

  9. understand your eagerness to get back to what u njoy most…u will get well soon :) .cheers.. tc

  10. Has age increases the healing decreases but medications does not always help in the healing process. We can use prayer to heal and not just rely on prescription drugs.

  11. very useful share.

  12. It might sound like an old cliche but as long as you have got your health as the saying goes. There is no question that when we get older we can see the creaks and pains in our bodies especially in cold weather.

  13. Of course, ageing is a natural process and these things do bother us.Medication is one thing we rely upon. The best thing is to keep cool as you did.

    Incidentally, I wish to thank you for your comments after reading my article and greatly appreciated.

  14. Double your time to have an exercise program while getting older.

  15. Read it, glad that your’e healing now. It had been a hard time, makes you really slow down, however, be very careful with yourself.

  16. It is so frustrating not being able to do what you want to do because of an injury. You’ll just have to be patient and I am sure there are exercises you can do which don’t need to involve your foot, Val. Take care.

  17. I hope you get well enough for the bike too.

  18. I hope you heal quickly. Yes, aging isn’t fun for the ‘accident prone.’ :) j/k But, vitamins are suppose to help. Women, especially, need supplements to help with these old bones.

  19. I know how frustrating it can be, Val. I have been where you are, just hang in there a little while longer, and be careful.

  20. I hear you and feel your pain. Get well soon.
    Two years ago while taking my Labs for a walk, I hurt my heel. It is still not better.
    I guess as we get older we just need to take the time to relax and let our bodies heel naturally. What a pain!

  21. I do believe pain gets difficult when older and recovery feels a challenge

  22. good information.

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  23. thanks for the share

  24. very true

  25. I understand where you’re coming from Val having injured my shoulder about 4 months ago and only recently deciding that it is taking far too long to heal (whatever the problem). Just had an ultra sound done and now waiting to see what my doctor says. However, this would not be half as frustrating as it would be for you, with your foot. I hope it heals fully very quickly, and yes, I believe we take longer to heal as we get older unfortunately.

  26. I think it does Val hope you mend soon cheers

  27. What a great article. Lots of humour to make your points. I absolutely loved this. Keep on keeping on, Val!

  28. yup, we all heal slower as we get older. body’s healing process is a bit slower, less efficient. but you well get healed with enough time, rest and medical attention.

    i hope you will get healthy very soon to enjoy the natural beauty of new zealand.

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