For most of my life I have been an early riser. I simply like being up early. As an adult, that has meant getting up, exercising, and going to work. After I retired, I continued getting up between 5:00 and 6:00. Over the past few years, I have made a number of adjustments to my morning routine. For a while after retirement, I dropped by the office for a couple of hours. Gradually, I stopped that to spend more time with Kate in the morning. I continued going to the Y three days a week and started walking the other four days. Over a year ago, I began to feel less comfortable leaving Kate by herself. That ultimately led to my engaging a sitter three afternoons a week. I started going to the Y during that time rather than in the morning. Until recently, I felt all right about leaving her early in the morning to take a morning walk.
Two things occurred that caused me to change again. The first, and to me more serious one, was Kate’s experience of an early morning anxiety attack. This was one of those times when she was upset at not knowing where she was or who she is. I was worried about her having another attack and my not being here to comfort and calm her. Simultaneously, I had a pinched nerve in my hip. This occurred when I stepped up my walking from 2.5-3.0 miles each morning to 3.0-4.5 miles. I decided I should take a break from both the Y and my morning walk.
One of the consequences of this change has been a reduction in my “reading” (actually listening) time. I have missed that as much as the exercise itself. I have always found it much easier to listen while walking or on the stationary bike or treadmill at the Y than simply sitting in a chair at home. I seem to be more distracted at home. I decided to try it anyway. I started listening 30 minutes each day. It didn’t feel right, but I discovered that it worked much better if I closed my eyes.
The hip is better now, but I still don’t want to leave Kate. Over the past few days, I’ve walked in a circle that takes me from our kitchen, family room, living room, dining room and back to the kitchen. I walk for 30-40 minutes while listening to a book. This is not the best arrangement. It is clearly a compromise, but it seems to be a good way to gradually get back into walking and listening. It is definitely not a long-term plan.
An additional issue is that the reduced exercise and reading have been an important part of my effort to minimize stress. That has been unfortunate in that it has occurred at the same time Kate is declining more rapidly. On top of that, Kate’s sleeping later in the morning means we are not as regular in making our morning trips to Panera. We are beginning to lose touch with that community of friends whom I have always recognized as helpful stress relievers. That, in turn, means I feel more stress than I have before. I am looking at other possibilities to right the ship. I’ll address that in another post.