Getting older – Part II – Help me, I can’t see!

I’m serious and it’s not funny (although at times it actually is), but I really feel like I can’t see at all sometimes. It’s getting worse all the time and soon I think I may need to start wearing glasses full time. I don’t like it, I find it annoying and I want to turn back the clock. I can’t do that, so I have to learn to accept this and move on.

It has not been easy and I have struggled with the concept of getting older. It’s been controversial and the whole thing kind of sneaks up on you, but let’s start from the beginning. Why do I feel like I can’t see anymore and why I feel like it sneaks up on you…

#1 Something is different phase

I got them! Cool!

I went to the optician when I turned 40 just do a basic check up because they say that after this magical number it’s just downhill (in so many ways… keep following my blog to co-commiserate) and he said all well, eyesight is better than normal, but go and get it checked up again in two years as that is when ”it” usually starts.

So I was happy, all well, no need to worry, keep going. Few years later when I was almost 43 I started to feel like it’s a bit harder to read small labels on packages. I didn’t really pay too much attention to it but remembered the opticians advice to do another check up around the time of 42 years so booked a time as it was way overdue. Again eyesight still really good, but she suspects that in about 6 months to one year I will be needing reading glasses.

So I am prepared, I am monitoring my eye sight and notice that the print gets smaller and fuzzier by the month. By the time 1 year has passed I realize that the optician is actually right, I am really struggling with seeing small print. So I book a time again and now she says yes, it’s time to get them glasses. Crazy me, I am so excited because I get to wear glasses! Little did I know that it’s actually going to be a frigging permanent thing soon!

#2 New and exciting phase

Accepting the fact…

I got my first reading glasses about the time when I was almost exactly 45 years old. It also took about 3 months to get the lenses right when I got the glasses. First I could not see anything further than 2 meters which meant that for example trying to read sheet music while singing and follow up the baton of the conductor was impossible. Then there was something wrong still with the remote vision and it turned out that the lens was a bit too big for the frame and the tension kept twisting the lens and vision. So finally after few tweaks I finally got good glasses!

It was new, it was exciting, I kept wearing them just for the fun of it and then the reality strikes. As the glasses were so to speak ”computer work” glasses with the reading section at the bottom I kept taking them off and putting them on. It was very annoying and by the time about 4-5 months had passed I started to keep them less and less. That was probably a mistake. I thought that maybe my head is aching because I am wearing them and I still don’t know it might be but the truth is I cannot see any small print without them anymore.

#3 Reality strikes phase

Getting more comfortable with it

One and a half years later at Kilimanjaro I realized that I actually need the reading glasses with me all the time. Luckily Kindle print can be increased and mobile too but for example writing my diary was hard. I had to keep the notebook so far from me to be able to see what I wrote that it felt ridiculous and I had no idea anymore what I was writing. That is when I decided to go optician again after we get back and managed to book a time early this year just before Covid-19 hit Finland.

I go to the optician all in good faith that I will just swiftly change the lenses to the current frames with better reading area, but no the whole entire world of glasses, lenses, frames and reading areas is so confusing that I want to just forget about it BUT I try because I need to learn this new ”thing”, this new world of ”glasses”. He patiently explains to me how much it will cost to change the lenses to existing ones and how much to get new frames and new lenses.

It makes no sense that it is almost the same cost to get completely new frames and lenses than to change the lenses to the frames you already got. Sounds like a waste of natural resources and I had only had the frames for 1,5 years and I really loved them so why would I want to change. I thought I can keep the same frames until like…. forever if I wish.

Then it happened I felt emotions hitting in and tears coming into my eyes… Quickly said sorry and went to the back room to ”swallow them back in”. Managed to calm myself down, went back and explained something about being surprised about there being such a high cost again to replace the lenses and said that the new lenses will need to wait until I can afford them and left the shop.

I realized that what just happened there was not normal, it was not me, but something else uncontrollable had taken over me and has been doing that for a while now. It’s this emotional roller coaster that I am on where nothing seems to make sense one day and then the next day everything is fine again! Which brings me to the topic of ”Getting old(er) – Part III” which will be about emotions so get your tissues out!

Anyway now 1,5 + years later I am in a situation when the print is getting smaller and smaller. I don’t have to keep (reading) glasses all the time (yet) and luckily I got long arms so there is still a bit of leeway left, but the reality is that I cannot hide or deny it; I cannot see anymore the way I used to. This is one of the things you can’t control. It will happen to us all one day the older we get so might as well get used to it.

Oh, and reading glasses help with weight control too as you can finally see the real portion size 😂😂😂

Not sure how you are coping with aging? I am having a hard time accepting it… Read Getting olde(er) part III – Emotional roller coaster to join the ride!

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The Virus diary – Day 152 – Holiday season

The situation here in Finland is so much better than it was the last time I wrote. The government decided to lift the restriction in early June for the first time and have since done some more changes to them. Now we are allowed to eat in a restaurant (with restrictions… 50% capacity inside and so on) and go to gym and other places. Practically almost everything is now open. Not that it means that they are doing well. The restrictions do require some ingenuity and extra work. Nevertheless I am happy that we are getting back to some sort of ”normal” finally. and the ”exception law” hasn’t been applied since 16th of June. The amount of new cases is close to nothing and even though the first restrictions were lifted already earlier this month new cases amount has not increased, so we are in a good situation it seems.

Camping fun

Enjoying the sunshine after long dark winter <3

Since it’s looking generally better here, the number of new cases is going down to less than 5 in the whole country, we also decided to go for a short ”family getaway” camping with the kids. If a teenagers asks ”Mom, can we go camping ?”, I will head packing straight away. It is such a rare occasion nowadays that they actually want to do something together. Decided to go fairly close here to a campsite that has both a water park and an amusement park next to it to avoid too much hassle with travelling and knowing that it had just opened up for the summer (normally they would have been open from May) thought it would be fairly empty anyway and I was right.

They had taken all precautions and naturally we also did our part and kept washing our hands and waited patiently for the ”clean-up” breaks in the amusement park. Camping itself was fun and it was great to see the kids getting along so well. They sometimes keep bickering around constantly and then suddenly get along so well. Today was a good day in that sense so camping turned out to be a success.

Next day we went to the water park which was rare luxury that we had such perfect weather. It was closer to +26 which is a lot here in Finland and it was so hot ! Sliding down into cool water including a bit of sunshine was perfect a way to spend the day. In the water park they also had two ”shifts” for customers, morning and evening ticket. This was their way to limit the amount of people coming in so we would not be all full packed next to each other. Apart from the mosquitoes and black flies it was a perfect and much needed holiday.

YES I did go on that crazy swing high up!

Working from home continues

Although the situation if better everywhere in Europe our company has taken the approach to keep all offices closed until the end of the year. This means that I won’t be returning to our office in the city centre for a while yet, but at least I can go and eat lunch outside somewhere if nothing else ,since the restaurants are now open again.

I have done some changes now to my ”home workplace” to accommodate this change. Got a proper office chair and will most likely use a small chest height cabinet as a table and stand every now and then. Holiday is now over and it’s back to the grind again on Monday. Luckily weather will be warm enough to work outside for a few months more so I will take advantage of that and change spots a bit around the house and terraces. If I will be able to get my leg back in shape again maybe do some shorts walks during the day to get some every day exercise that I lack now without commuting (walking to metro, walking to office, walking to lunch and so on). Physiotherapist might disagree, let’s see once I get my first appointment.

How will choir singing continue?

Most choirs are on summer holiday ,at least more amateur ones, so there is no practising anyway during June-July. What will happen in August is still a bit open to many of us. Some have started practising with the whole choir, some in smaller groups, some through zoom, some not at all. If the situation continues to be this good then maybe we can get back to some sort of arrangement on live rehearsals, but since singing (and shouting) have been proven to spread the virus through aerosols we are being cautious for a reason.

I am still taking part in various different virtual choir projects and love them all but I do miss the live situations and singing, not to mention actual performing. BUT this is now and who knows how the situation changes in the next few months. Hopefully to the best and we can get together again without fear of infecting anyone with our lively singing. Gospel singing has never been a very ”inconspicuous” type of singing and performance 😀

Who knows what the rest of the year looks like. We just need to wait and see just like until now. One day at a time.

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Getting old(er) – Part I – Recognise these symptoms?

They say that women were not designed to live much past 40 years from evolution point of view (hunter/gatherer era, more interesting hypothesis and research here) which makes sense as otherwise you would think that women would have eggs for reproduction enough to last 80+ years when the life expectancy for women in Finland is for example 85,1 years according to Worldometer. Now our storage is depleted by the time we are around the age of 50 and last egg specimens before that are virtually unusable and defective anyway.

So I don’t think our ancestors had to worry so much about this topic of getting older or the symptoms of it as they never reached the age that we now call ”middle age” for women. This topic has though become very apparently a permanent part of my life so I thought I’d share my thoughts and notes on the jolly progress.

Everyone is different and things happen in different time to us due to that fact. They say your body has ”chronological age” (from when you were born to what age you are now) and ”biological age” (what age you seem to be) and to the latter one you can make a difference with your life style. Anyway whatever way you calculate it, the clock is ticking and aging will catch up with all of us eventually sooner or later and it definitely has caught up with me!

How do I know it?

Hmm well let’s start with a list. Recognize any of these symptoms?

  • Your brain is continuously stuck in a fog as if you had a few too many glasses of Australian Barossa Valley Shiraz (and you haven’t had a drop!)
  • You start avoiding looking at your mobile phone in public places because you don’t want to dig out your reading glasses from your hand bag. You’d rather skip it than dig it…
  • When listening to young adults talking about how their mother did ”this and that” you realize you could be the mother they are talking about!
  • Everyone with a pram or a baby look young enough to be your child…
  • Trampoline and you simply do not get along anymore
  • Stepping on an ant will make you dig out a tissue
  • Sleeping in the fridge could be an option

Accepting the fact that I am getting closer to 50 than 40 has been hard and since this topic is not that much discussed in general I decided to share my thoughts, findings and solutions on the matter that have worked for me. Besides it’s so much more fun to grow old(er) together than alone! The more the merrier so let’s share our ideas and thoughts on the matter <3

Stay tuned and join the journey in Getting old(er) part II – Help me, I can’t see!

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Training – W20-22 Slowly does it

I’ve been thinking how to finally get back to training so I would not overdo it again. Decided to try cycling a bit first and then walking and add slowly a bit of running with max two times a week and max 3 kilometers at a time. I clearly have lately had the need to get more exercise and exhaustive enough to actually sweat properly. Never thought I would say that, but yes I miss sweating like a pig!

Thought that maybe if I go cycling I might get enough speed to get a bit of heat up but no, with my old granny bicycle the only time I got a bit warm was this one small hill I found. On the contrary I was freezing because with my luck it had been sunny the whole day, but when I left for my ride a storm came with first hail and then sleet. I had my rainproof gear on so I wasn’t really wet (apart from my ankles and shoes as naturally the water and sleet kept dripping down when I cycled), but it was freezing cold… So much for spring…That was though three weeks ago. We got a bit better weather now.

Two weeks ago I thought I’d be brave enough and do a good warm up with 4.9 kilometer walk and the run a bit. I also stopped over at the gym on the way back to check it out since it had just been opened after covid-19. Lots of stretching on top and lots of foam rolling few days afterwards and it was OK so decided to try some more running the following week.

Bought new running shoes too as the old ones were way too old and had seen over a thousand kilometers already. First run of the week 3 kilometers was fine. Went for another run 4 kilometers and still fine. Decided that no more running that week, but the weather was so beautiful that I felt like I needed to get out so went for a bike ride again. Accidentally it became 21,3 kilometers because I got a bit lost which was apparently too much. My leg did not agree and got that numbing feeling on it later in the afternoon, but went quickly inside and did some foam rolling and stretching and it actually passed so not really sure what is causing what anymore.

Three week total

  • Cycling 60,3 kilometers
  • Walking 16,9 kilometers
  • Running 8 kilometers

Week 20

  • Cycling twice altogether 22,3 kilometers. One 13 kilometers and one 9 kilometers
  • Walking twice altogether 8 kilometers. One 3 kilometers and one 4,9 kilometers

Week 21

  • Cycling once 16,7 kilometers
  • Walking once 4,9 kilometers
  • Running once 1 kilometers
  • Quick visit to the gym…

Week 22

  • Cycling once 21,3 kilometers
  • Running twice altogether 7 kilometers. Once 4 kilometers and once 3 kilometers
  • Walking twice altogether 4,1 kilometers Once 1,6 kilometers and once 2,4 kilometers

Am I better now?

Continuously there seems to be pinching, numbing and strange sensations on the leg which come and go so I am pretty sure it’s not caused by any inflammation anymore but some sort of entrapment on my left glute or thigh/calf muscle. We shall see if it gets worse or does not pass with foam rolling/stretching and even if it does I might need to call the doctor again. This is clearly not ”normal” and prohibiting me from exercising the way I wanted to.

Anyway I am back to doing something which is so much better than doing nothing. I have been very exhausted after each exercise which is not what normally has happened after only three kilometer run so clearly I am recovering from ”something”. There is a long way back to 10 k runs, but it feels good to exercise and I’m looking forward to being able to increase the distances hopefully. I have missed it so much!

Aiming to do two more 3-4 kilometer runs next week and then maybe increase the length by one kilometer per week for two week at a time gradually. Let’s see, wish me luck!

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Kilimanjaro Day 9/10 – Horombo camp to Marangu gate

Sunburn on my lower lip!

I could not sleep. I had this weird tingling feeling on my lower lip. I kept on putting lip balm on it, but it just did not go away. I finally fell asleep though only to wake up later with my lower lip completely swollen. It felt like an allergic reaction, but I could not figure out what had caused. Managed to sleep until the morning somehow and remembered that Christine, on of our guides from Maximum Adventures, had some antihistamin still left so asked if she has one hoping it would help.

During breakfast I found a soul mate James who had similar issue. We came to the conclusion it was not an allergic reaction (or it kind of was…) but we had sunburn on our lip! The one day I did not have my sunhat on as it was too cold when we left and naturally that was the cause. I had sunscreen on my face but not on my lips. I kept on putting lip balm on and it helped a little during the day, but I did not look pretty as you can see! Not to mention it was rather painful.

Anyway after the nights absolutely gorgeous ”view from space” it was a bit cloudy and all we could see were the clouds beneath us although we were sort on on a cliff with perfect view down. Packed everything for the final time and had breakfast. Then one more dance and sharing of the tips. It was a special moment and we all felt a bit sad that it was coming to an end.

Downhill… a long way!

Our guide told us it’s 18 kilometers to Marangu gate so I packed enough snacks and water to last me that distance. As we were descending now I was sure our pace would be much quicker and was looking forward to going downhill finally. I have always been really fast at going downhill and even beat my husband in that although he keeps on beating me going up so I suppose we got a good combination there and room for improvement for both. So I felt good despite the sun burned lip because I thought that I can finally get some proper exercise and sweat a bit maybe. I missed exercising although it sounds funny having just climbed to the 4700+ meters, but you know what I mean. Proper sweating and getting exhausted with heart rate up, that’s what I missed.

The path was really good, wide and very busy. People were going up and coming down constantly. It was hot, sunny and our pace was a bit too slow to my liking. There was not much vegetation yet but some nice looking plants. Since the pace was a bit slow tried to entertain myself with taking photos of the plants. I have a whole album of just photos of plants and will create a gallery of them at some point. We also saw some giraffes, or that’s what we were told they were. Can you spot the yellow dots? I helped you out a bit 😉 Without anyone telling I would not had any idea what to look for they were that far. Apparently usually they don’t wander this high they said.


Through the rain forest in rain naturally

Looking at my sports watch I could already predict that no way would we be at the gate around the time they had calculated as we were not even halfway (9k’s) by the time we got to Mandara hut.

We had our second snack break there and I had already run out of my water and food by that time. I did not really want to stop but wanted to keep going so we can get ”on the ground” again. For some reason the journey seemed to last forever. It’s probably all the waiting and excitement of getting back to hotel and then home that caused it. Maybe the exhaustion of the whole climb and your body accommodating to it. There was also constant worry what we would face on the ground with covid-19 situation and what other news there is. What has happened in the world in past few days?

It started raining just before we left Mandara hut, but I didn’t bother putting full gear on yet. Then after a few kilometers it was clear it’s not going to stop so we stopped to put on full waterproof gear. I am so happy I had those all the way up zip pants as it was pouring on and off until we got to the gate and it’s so much easier to open the zippers than to take off and put on the pants all the time. Saves so much time and hassle so highly recommend getting that kind of pants for any long hikes!

Suddenly I noticed being all alone with the guide at the front and the rest of the team was nowhere in sight and could not hear them anymore either. The guide at the front kept going and going and even me being quick at descent felt like he was going a bit too fast. Then again I had no choice but to keep up with him as I had no idea how far the others were and did not fancy standing in the rain in rain forest all by myself. Since it was raining there is no photos of that part of the trail either. My camera and mobile phone would have been soaking wet if I had tried.

Everlasting trail

They say that you need to also go down moderate pace not too fast due to the altitude because you can get symptoms also coming down. I had ran out of water a long time ago already and was really thirsty. It was hot and humid and I was tired. It felt like the trail never ends. There was nowhere else to go but straight ahead because the forest was so thick grown. The only option was the trail forward and it seemed to last forever.

Taking one step at a time and getting into the routine and flow of steps and I felt like I was in another world. I just kept going and going without thinking about anything except where I will land my next step as there was quite a few roots you could trip on. At some point I felt VERY disoriented and out of place. My mind started to wander to my youth and I just kept going and going with my legs moving in the exact same pace over and over again. It was a very strange feeling!

By the time my sports watch showed 18 kilometers and the sign at a crossroad said something like 3,4 kilometers I knew that we had been told a ”white lie” so we would not feel so stressed about the distance. I suppose anything over 20k’s they thought might be too much so they said it would be a bit less. I have learned this tactic already earlier and was suspecting it already around 15 kilometers.

Anyway like said I had no choice but to keep up with this guy and hope that one day it will end and we will get to the gate eventually. By the time we reached Marangu gate I had walked 22,63 kilometers in 6 hours and 8 minutes with approximately 1840 meters descent. My sports watch went on power save mode so did not catch all the data like exact descent. So our 18 kilometers ended up being 4,6 kilometers longer than we were told. I was starving, thirsty and so happy to see the people greeting us and yes… to get some FOOD!

I felt so accomplished having been able to keep up with the pace of this young guide so yes I did get my ”exercise” and feeling of exhaustion!

Finally at Marangu gate!!

Everyone arrived on their own time a bit after us. Our cook had prepared lunch last time to us and we all had well deserved drinks with it. For some reason nobody wanted to touch the Snickers bars. No wonder, I had had enough of Snickers bars for years to come!

Back at the hotel

At the hotel we turned on our mobiles started getting all these messages from outer world. Naturally the connection at the hotel was not able to handle all the data coming in and out as it was not too good to start with, but managed to call my husband and kids a video call quickly. After that we all head out to our rooms, had a long waited shower and yes a nap in a comfy bed!

In the evening we had a dinner and got our certificates of participating the climb with a surprise proposal by our UK guide Michael to Christine. I don’t remember being that tired many times in and did not feel too good, mostly because I ate too much probably, so head to bed before midnight. Besides the idea of your own comfy bed was very tempting after the mattress in the tent that kept sliding downhill all the time…

I was so looking forward to going home. I had enjoyed every minute of the climb but now I could hardly wait to get home. I had no idea what kind of weather it would be, maybe finally snow? Maybe not… It was hard to think of Finnish weather after Africa they are so different. We had one more day left before going home…

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