Celebrate Aging

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Dartmouth Hitchcock Med CtrEvery August I feel more grateful than ever. I just upped the number of years I’ve been living on the planet. After all, as it’s been said “old age is not granted to everyone,” thus, aging is a privilege.

Two days before my birthday I had my annual echocardiogram and visit to my cardiologist. He gave me the gift of the words that I expect to hear every year – “All is well. Come back next year.”

“What have you been doing?” The doctor asked when he was finished with the consultation.

“I’ve been writing and publishing.” I replied.

“Really?”

I handed my doctor of 25+ years a surprise present – a wrapped copy of my memoir “Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.” A conversation about the content of the book followed. It began like this:

“I am not sure how to put this to you tactfully… But do you know how well you’ve done?” Asked my doctor.

“Yes, I think so,” I replied. “It’s one of the reasons I wrote and published a book. I am feeling very blessed.”

“Not all children have the same kind of outcome that you have had. Major surgery in childhood can be very damaging.’

“Yes, I am aware of that. Thank God I’ve been able to tell a story that has some humor in it.”

“Great. I’ll like reading your book,” he said. “Some patients have sad, depressing stories.”

“I am so grateful mine is not one of them. That’s why I wanted to air it.”

“Well, I look forward to reading it,” he said again. “And call me if you need me, otherwise, see you next year.”

An hour previously I had been sitting in the lobby of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center waiting for my appointment. I watched the resident doctors with their credentials hanging from their necks walk through the lobby from the Geisel School of Medicine to get something to eat in the food court. As I sat I listened to a musician play upbeat music from some of the earlier eras of my life on the baby grand piano in lobby. I couldn’t help but reflect on how medicine and treatment has changed from my childhood days. We’re now in an era where research has shown the importance of healing mind, body and spirit for successful outcomes.

I couldn’t be more grateful that my parents seemed to intuitively understand a little about the power of the human spirit nearly fifty plus decades ago, when I was going through the traumas of “pioneering heart surgery.”

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For each birthday I thank my luck stars that I am here to age and celebrate. Happy Belated Birthday to my twin sister, Jan!!!

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard.

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