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Welcome to middle age

July 19, 2010

by Jenni Sebora

I am in my mid-40s, and things have definitely altered for me, physically, mentally, and emotionally, since hitting mid-life.

Before 40, I felt somewhat, as they say, indestructible; not as a teenager may be, but I was always very healthy. Exercising regularly and eating healthy, for the most part, played a role in this.

I am an avid runner, and have been since I was about 13 years old. I have played almost every sport there is, eat almost any fruit and vegetable, and enjoy milk. I do have my vices, sweets in particular. I could blame this on my dad as he had the sweetest tooth, but I am old enough to make my own choices.

I hit my 40s, and I will admit that there were some changes, most likely due to stressors, life occurrences, and of course, I would believe, hormones.

I started getting regular headaches, after basically being headache-free. I believe this started after my mother passed away, which occurred simultaneously with starting a new teaching position. In fact, my mom died on the first day of school; she left with a statement, as was very appropriate.

Taking care of a loved one on hospice in your home is a life experience one cannot relate to, unless you experience it yourself. I have had a good number of people approach me to share their stories of caring for loved ones as they progressed through the dying process. I would never change the decisions to have my mom remain at home, but it does affect you in many ways.

I recently completed my annual mammogram after hearing the news that, yet again, another loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer. I received a telephone call from a nurse saying that a nodule or lump was discovered; further testing is required. The next day, I completed this testing, and the finding was fibrous tissue. Needless to say, a feeling of relief flooded my emotions.

The same day I had completed the testing and received this news, I also had been experiencing a headache that started some days ago, and would not dissipate much. I have migraine medication, but even this would not give the headache much relief. In the evening I had taken some mild over-the-counter medication, like Benadryl, and some time later, experienced a reaction to the medication.

Thus, a trip to the emergency room in the middle of the night. After monitoring my heart rate, completing lab testing, and a CAT scan of my head, it all came back normal. Thank goodness.

I believe I may have body chemistry makeup like my mother. She always had different reactions to medications, etc. She was one that got sicker from the flu shot than the flu itself.

When she had heart testing done to determine if surgery was necessary for clogged arteries, she had a severe reaction to the dye from the testing, and almost died from it. I could go on with stories about her various reactions and medical history, but the point is made. I do know that it is important that people know their own bodies, and share this information with their healthcare professionals.

I also do know this – that people should not skip their yearly physicals, and women should not skip their annual mammogram screenings. Three women that I am close to have had their breast cancer detected through these annual mammogram screenings.

I have read that one’s emotional status takes a downward turn in their 40s, with an upswing when they hit 50, and a big upswing when they hit 75.

I also do know that it is important to eat healthy and exercise to whatever degree one can. It cleanses the body physically and emotionally.

Faith is important. It is the ultimate.

As one goes through life in years and life experiences, the realization that life here is not infinite or indestructible, but it is to be lived and loved, is made.

For me, it is about creating life experiences and making memories. It is about connections with people and experiences. There are obstacles, bumps in the road, and maybe even downward spirals at times, but there are also joys and jubilations.

We need to always remember to not be afraid to ask for help. It is also important to not take everything so seriously; that is draining when one does so. Always remember to take time to work and laugh and play. We are never too old for this balance in life.