Counting my blessings – Reflections on ageing with grace

I am truly grateful for the life I have. Living with an irregular heartbeat, I’ve come to appreciate the simple joys that many take for granted. Despite my condition, I count my blessings every day.

A recent visit to the National Heart Institute of Malaysia (IJN) brought this realisation into sharp focus. This particular visit had a lasting impression on me as I was more observant of my surroundings this time around.

At IJN, I encountered individuals whose struggles put my own into perspective.

One young man, confined to a wheelchair and reliant on an oxygen tank, reminded me of the gift of breath. His two female caregivers, tirelessly attending to his needs, highlighted the importance of support and compassion.

Another scene struck a chord with me: A 60-something-year-old son changing his mother’s diapers in a lady’s public toilet. Despite offers of help, he carried out the task with efficiency and dignity in full view of those waiting to use the cubicles.

It was fortunate that his mother could stand on her own, which made it easier for the son, as his mum was wearing a sarong. His selflessness and dedication were evident, prompting me to ponder the daunting challenges faced by a caregiver of the opposite sex!

Then, there was the frail and scrawny senior, barely able to walk and communicate, yet greeted with patience and kindness by the receptionist. His struggle with appetite mirrored the challenges many face as they age, emphasising the importance of health, including enough nourishment (especially protein).

Lastly, I saw a man with Parkinson’s disease, his trembling hands a testament to the debilitating effects of illness. Witnessing his difficulty in simple tasks, like having his blood pressure taken, made me aware of the effort some face in undertaking mundane tasks which most of us take for granted.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the hospital, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own journey. Despite the challenges, I am grateful for the care I receive and the chance to lead a fulfilling life.

As I watched patients collect their medications – bags filled to the brim – I realised the magnitude of their struggle.

Leaving the hospital, I felt a renewed sense of gratitude for my overall health, wellbeing, and independence. It’s a blessing to be able to drive myself to appointments, to enjoy a hearty breakfast after a fasting blood test, and to go to the toilet myself. These seemingly everyday activities are privileges not to be taken lightly.

As I reflect on my experience at the IJN, I am filled with gratitude for the clean bill of health bestowed upon me by the specialist. The sheer joy I felt upon hearing those words is indescribable.

With renewed confidence in my wellbeing, I embarked on the journey home, relishing the peace of mind that enveloped me.

Despite the six hours spent at IJN, every moment was worth it, knowing that I am one of the fortunate ones blessed with good health. And to know that I only have to do this once every nine months!

So, what’s the secret to ageing gracefully? It’s embracing life wholeheartedly. Incorporating regular exercise, stimulating the mind, maintaining a balanced diet, and leading a stress-free life are key.

But above all, it’s about cherishing the little things – the ability to walk, to breathe, to eat/swallow and to go to the toilet on our own – that make life truly precious.

As I turn 75 in July, and navigate life with an irregular heartbeat (a common phenomenon among seniors), I am reminded of the importance of gratitude and resilience. Each day is a gift, and I intend to make the most of it.

Let’s embrace the journey of ageing with grace, finding joy in the simple pleasures, and strength in adversity. After all, growing old is a privilege denied to many.

The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writer and do not necessarily represent that of Twentytwo13.

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