When Life Throws You Curveballs, Embrace the ‘New Normal’

For patients with life-altering illnesses or anyone just getting older, it helps to roll with the punches and make the best of the here and now.

Comments: 211

  1. I was 57 when I had a stroke that affected my left side and left me with cognitive deficits in areas of executive functioning. I remain grateful that the stroke was not worse, as I saw in the rehabilitation facility to which I was admitted for 3 weeks after my stay in the hospital. The doctors have been unable to determine the cause of the stroke, as I did not have any of the traditional risk factors. I worked hard in psychotherapy for many years to overcome severe and persistent mental illness and was thriving in recovery and in my life. I was working full-time as a social worker when I had the stroke I've recovered physically and worked with a private rehabilitative neuropsychologist who had over 30 years experience in working with individuals with brain injuries. She guided me and advocated for me to return to work. It took nineteen months for me to return to work full-time, however, I can tell the difference in how efficiently my brain operated before the stroke and how it works now. But my primary emotion remains one of incredible gratitude, again, because it could have been so much worse, and for my family, friends and the wonderful group of professionals who worked alongside me to get me where I am today.

  2. @Andrea Yes, Gratitude has also become my primary emotion. Thank you, for real.

  3. I've been diagnosed with an unpredictable and incurable cancer. Treatment has been rough but I've seen how much worse it could be, so try to remember to be grateful; it helps. You don't have to wait for cancer to be grateful!

  4. @Andrea And your clients are grateful you are still able to help them with your years of knowledge and experience! (Social workers rock.)

  5. "For patients with life-altering illnesses or anyone just getting older, it helps to roll with the punches and make the best of the here and now." Good heavens, there's really nothing new under the sun. What's the old St. Francis saying: "God grant me the strength to fix what I can, accept what I can't, and the wisdom to know the difference." Or something to that effect. I'm not religious, but it works well enough for me.

  6. @B. Dear B, it’s actually a verse in a longer prayer that goes back to the beginning of the church. The AA mouvement uses it. It’s called the serenity prayer. There are different versions and translations. That’s my good deed for the day, now I can go back to be a grumpy old man.

  7. Most of us eventually have to cope with “a new normal” whether it’s a physical illness or a death of a family member or friend. We do our best to cope. We are all doing the best we can as we face these painful and scary experiences.

  8. Good Morning, I needed your words this morning as I am becoming a cranky 71 year old whose tired of looking at the glass half full. Recovering from a broken wrist with residual arthritis and unwanted weight gain and then responding to husband's heart attack, fall with eight broken ribs, and ruptured stomach, my shock absorbers are getting worn out. Advice such a "be in the moment" make me want to argue about the fact that there is no "present" but just the past and future. I am daily obsessing about how to say goodbye to my loved ones even though I do not have a terminal illness other than being alive. This is universal angst and I am not unique. Millennia of birth and death, birth and death, . . .

  9. What's missing here are the elderly who end up destitute or homeless because of our lack of single payer modern world healthcare and broken safety net. Good luck rolling with the punches there. And with the uncontrolled costs of healthcare that could be any of us.

  10. @poslug Want to learn how to gain freedom while aging, while parenting, while being a student, while working? Read "The Nordic Theory Of Everything", Anu Partanen. Anu places individual freedom as the prime outcome of various Nordic social systems with universal health care, childcare aid, affordable (or free) education), care in old age and other programs within a democratic socialist culture. It is way past time to stop characterizing democratic socialism as taking freedoms.

  11. @poslug "What do I want my life to look like?” and base our answers on realistic possibilities, not wishful thinking." It's easy for many to ask what they want their life to look like but as you pointed out, the reality for many is much different. 1 in 2 seniors citizens cannot afford their medicines today, many choose between food and their drugs, and there are now many senior citizens living in their cars across the country as rents have soared. Hard to roll with the punches when you can't afford health care and have no home.

  12. @poslug What you say is true, but it doesn’t negate the value of the author’s message.

  13. This new normal for aging folks so often includes loneliness and depression. It's one thing to identify it, another altogether to fix it.

  14. @Brian My grandfather accepted the loneliness and told me when he was in his 90s that people did not have time for him and he understood. He accepted my dad's death (his son) when he was 88 and his great nephew's death when he was 90. He believed that life went on. He made all his decisions based on being a thinker, not a feeler.

  15. While this might be a “duh” article, it is important to talk about. My mother, 80, living independently and totally with it, fell and broke her hip. She knows there is a new “normal” ahead of her and just talking about helps her and us. She can move forward planning her recovery and we can plan with her, all of us know things are going to change. Contrast this with my mother in law, who refuses to accept she’s getting increasingly infirm and thus refuses to take steps that might help her manage her frail health and perhaps even thrive. Probably not for this article, but could the latter be tied to the American myth that we must do everything by ourselves?

  16. Adjusting to a new normal has been my life over the past decade, as a series of health conditions have surfaced. I feel so fortunate to be able to afford good healthcare. Others are not so lucky. Healthcare should be a human right.

  17. All the stages of life consist of making the best of the current situation - be it life with a toddler, life with a demanding job, or life with physical limitations. At 75 I find the isolation and divisiveness of our culture to be the most difficult aspect of living.

  18. Here's a quote from Jolie Gabor, that starts out sounding trite, then ends sounding profound: "Always (a woman) can do something. She makes a new hairdo, she makes a new makeup. If the nose isn't good, she fixes it. It is never too late for a new look, new business, a new husband or lover. When we think life is over, it's always ready to begin". Wise words about getting older.

  19. Thanks for this Ms Brody, I needed to read this today! Great article, good advice, sprinkled with inspiration and hope.

  20. The 'new normal' is the motto for one of my on-line support groups. Once we accept our diagnosis/disability/limitations we can integrate them into our lives, adjust accordingly, and adapt our lives. Having support, advice, and humor from others on the same journey to the 'new normal' has been life and sanity saving for me. The definition of 'new normal' has to be reset as we get older, or develop a new condition, of course. It's never easy, of course. My latest move towards a better 'new normal' has been to a Senior Living Community. I can roll with my walker out my front door and go to the pool and fitness center, to join a Scrabble Game, play bridge, to get on the Community bus and go the symphony or an art exhibit! This was a major decision involving major change, but well worth the effort. Best of all I have

  21. Your 'normal' is highly dependent on the health insurance you have...... 'Normal' for the well off is FAR easier to bear than 'Normal' for the rest.....

  22. I was writing a different response when I saw this comment, and realized everything I was attempting to say kept circling back to what you said. My 93 year old mother recently had a stroke. Sitting in during her group OT sessions, I saw that some of the other patients were in their 40s or 50s. They spoke about their fears for their futures without the ability to work (or not in the way they had) and take care of themselves. Their new normal was terrifying because they lacked assets from a lifetime of stable employment and good health care. It’s not all about money, but a lot of it is.

  23. @Julie Zuckman Also the "new normal" means something very different, independent of means, to some who has a life-changing event in their 40s-50s vs. someone who is in their 80s-90s. For the latter, many are just trying to look to die with dignity, which, as a country, we still don't facilitate adequately or well (especially for people who have suffered any kind of cognitive impairments). As hard as it is for me to hear my 88-year-old grandmother, who has Lewy body dementia and whole host of other physical ailments, tell me on a regular basis how she wishes she were just dead already, I really can't blame her. And, unfortunately, given her mental state and the physical state in which she lives, there is no legal way to help her. She has plenty of means and lots of family around her, but "life with dignity" (or even lack of daily chronic pain, anxiety, and depression) is, sadly. not something she will be able to look forward to again.

  24. @cynicalskeptic Unfortunately, this author never considers her privilege in her writing.

  25. Since the untimely death of my beloved wife just over three years ago, followed in quick succession by the death of two older brothers, I have struggled every day to create a “new normal.” I even wrote an essay on grief and the new normal (writing is a recommended therapy for grief including writing these comments in the NYT). I’m surprised that, given my having to deal with what I call the “administrivia of death” - obituaries, eulogies, legal issues, selling cars and real estate, etc. - for such a long period, I’m able to keep my person fed and clothed, house clean and maintained, and cats looked after (in fact they give me a reason to get up). That I haven’t just given up - and I should note I’m a vet with diagnosed PTSD and other health issues, which makes it sometime even harder to find that “new normal.” Every day is difficult but I try to contribute through renovation projects at my church, writing, and keeping in touch with old friends to fight social isolation (I live in a rural area). It’s not easy and many days I just don’t want to go out and engage - and I realize how unhealthy that is. And I’m not elderly. Every day brings challenges but so far that is perhaps my “new normal.”

  26. @Lightning14 I find your comment inspiring. I'm 58, lost my first wife to cancer in January 2014, remarried to a great woman but still challenged by life; an artery injury, work stress and isolation (I'm an introvert). I love my two cats and they have been great companions, definitely a reason to get up in the morning.

  27. Cats are the best!

  28. @Eugene Debs Amen! Nothing like cats!

  29. A recently deceased friend was a sage and empathetic individual. One of his adult sons had asked him how to handle some challenging personal problems? The father asked his son how do you spell life? The son said LIFE. The wise father responded no. The correct spelling is Cope. And that is what we all must do as we face the physical and mental challenges of aging.

  30. Thank you for this column. I was diagnosed with breast cancer last May and it turned my life upside-down. This was not the "narrative" of my life as I envisioned it and the first time I have truly felt out of control. Since being diagnosed I have found so many friends who have cancer and my tribe has been a key part of moving forward. Along the way a friend suggested I read Cancer as a Wake-Up Call by Dr. María Laura Nasi. This book has also helped me focus on how I want to live my life now. Keep writing Ms. Brody, I love your columns and have read them for years.

  31. When my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, I was shocked, as so many people are. At first, I was overwhelmed by the diagnosis and onslaught of caregiving tasks, but after a while, I told myself that I showed the world, and I showed myself, what I was made of. I've told this to friends who are dealing with their own health challenges or health issues within their families. Mind you, I would have been very happy to have the stress-free life that I had hoped for, but rising to challenges has its benefits, too. As others have said, "glass half full or half empty" depends upon your perspective.

  32. Thank you for this meaningful and inspiring complement. Wishing you many lucky breaks on the path you are walking with your mother. 

  33. My description of aging: My body's lifetime warranty is running out. I'm into parts replacement and increased time spent on maintenance. My mantra: Every day is a treasure.

  34. We're all resilient creatures. Think about what our distant ancestors had to deal with as they evolved, and you know we're all able to "roll with the punches." The question is merely one of priorities and acceptance. Accept that your life is now different due to illness, disability, mental health, or other unsustainable problems. Clinging to something that is harmful to yourself or your body won't change the outcome or make you a better person. What will make you a better person is giving of yourself to others and to yourself. Make the decision to live in the moment and harbor no anger or hate toward others. Choose to be a better version of yourself and show love to those who question your choices. Love yourself above all else.

  35. I found this comment very helpful, especially as at the moment I’m going through my late wife’s library and feeling as though when I put a beloved book in the “donate” pile I’m betraying her memory. On the contrary, she would probably encourage me. Still, it’s tough - every one reminds me of her and informs me as to how she became the person I fell in love with.

  36. @Lightning14 Sir, Your response is the most wonderful one I've ever received to a comment I've left at the NYT's, or any other outlet. My condolences to you on the loss of your wife. All of us experience loss. But, it's in the giving that we truly find ourselves. You honor your wife and yourself by letting go of her possessions. May her memory guide you and enrich your life.

  37. @Lightning14 I encourage you to make a list of them and take a photo of the stack. That way you'll have the memory but be able to send the books out for someone else to appreciate. It's kind of a last mitzvah you're helping her do.

  38. Once we realize the fact there is no such thing as a "normal" life then it's much easier to accept the changes and challenges that will occur as we age and experience the world as solitary human beings. There will be times of joy and sorrow, celebration and mourning, exuberance and pain, all in various measure. This is the human condition. No one escapes. The folks we see laughing and joking at times when we ourselves are in great pain have been there too, no doubt back when we were the ones laughing. The trick is not to compare ourselves to anyone. You never know what a person's private life really holds. I always think of the poem, "Richard Cory" when I find myself envious of another's perceived better life.

  39. @Southlandish Thank you for reminding me about "Richard Cory", both the poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson and the song by Paul Simon. I hadn't thought about them in a long time.

  40. So many of these articles focus on cancer as if it is the most terrifying medical condition yet ironically graced with profound meaning above and beyond other life experiences, God's backhanded way of offering spiritual growth. Ever interview someone who looks at it as a medical condition and challenge but without all that on the side, or at least no more than with any other serious condition? Where's Susan Sontag when we need her...

  41. A large part of person's character used to be evaluated on how they dealt with adversity and setbacks. Life was expected to be full of suffering. That wasn't a perfect solution, but it did match up better with reality. The present attitude that if life isn't perfect, something must be wrong is a surefire guarantee of unhappiness.

  42. @fred My father was the child of dirt-poor immigrants who worked hard to make a comfortable life in this country. Whenever I or my siblings would complain about some difficulty we faced as children, my father would say” Don’t worry, life will never get any worse .” Followed by laughter. Not the most enlightened child rearing practices perhaps, but his point was made and remembered.

  43. Thank you, my father used to say something similar. He always looked on the bright side. I try to be more like him.

  44. I have always been a passionate gardener and a lover of all animals. As rheumatoid arthritis slowly took over my body I realized that weeding on my stomach had limits. I gave up the koi pond and the chickens, I kept the canaries and the dogs. I pulled my passions inside, aquariums, a moss garden in my lasagna for 20 dish, and a mini jungle surrounding the aquariums. My heaven is so much smaller now but, even on the worst pain days, my world is intact.

  45. @Jennifer James Truly beautiful words...and just what I needed to hear today. Thank you.

  46. @Jennifer James Bravo! You adapted.

  47. @Kathleen I love your “small Heaven” and your brilliant solution to bringing all your passions within reach. You inspire me. Thank you. I hope I didn’t take that lasagna pan to the thrift shop...

  48. I just turned 70 in August of last year. It was different than any other 'milestone birthday. At 50, 60 or 65 age was just a number. When I hit 70 it was different. 70 is not the new 50 for me. 70 is 70. I'm not sure why but it is. For several months before and several months after I tried to understand the difference. I realized my running several times a week would have to come to an end because of certain pains in the knees and hips. At 60 I was still running for an hour/5 miles four times a week and I felt great. At 65 it was only twice a week for 45 minutes but I was still running. Those days are behind me so now I walk. Before this comment turns into a memoir I'll just say I'm finally adjusting. I realize I have chronic OMS. Old Man Stuff. The PSA is elevated. MRI tomorrow. A sore shoulder for the last 6 weeks that there is no apparent reason for and other aches and pains that I never felt before show up every morning just to remind me that I'm 70. It's okay though because I've lost friends and family along the way who were much much younger than 70. I'm lucky having lived a very full life and I'm guessing I still have a few more years. I'm adjusting to aging and I'll just have to accept OMS.

  49. My parents have both told me that 70 was when they really started feeling their age.

  50. @Blue Jay When I turned 70 I realized that death was personal. It would happen to me. The prior decade had gone by quickly, so probably this one would as well - if I survived it! That is how awareness of aging occurred. After nights lying awake thinking about death, I learned to use yoga breathing to calm anxiety. Then I realized I was in good health and worrying would not change anything. I need to enjoy what is. That is how resilience develops. Life is lived one day at a time every day. If we aren’t in the now, we aren’t truly here. Live life with a bold heart. The cost is the same as a timid one, but it makes all the difference.

  51. @nora m Your comment was better than the article - and more succinct.

  52. An article worth reading by those WITH cancer experiences AND by those who are simply aging. Our abilities and much else will change as we grow older and we share the common ground of gathering up the marbles and moving on, albeit in new manners and different directions. A close friend who had devoted much of his time to planning and walking pilgrimages on the Camino de Santiago has lost his ability to walk the distances on that superb walk. He shifted his attention to walking, riding, busing and taxiing on the 88 Temple pilgrimage on Shikoku Island, Japan. Happy with the change, he notes the substantial differences between the journeys in his e-mails and letters. Things change.

  53. My wife and I are trying to find a new normal after our 24 year old son took his life. Despite working with mental health professionals for two years, we lost the battle to save our son. While cancer is certainly one of the leading causes of death in our generation, suicide is now the leading cause of preventable death for 10-25 year olds. Ok (my fellow) Boomers, what are going to do about saving our future generations? We need to improve mental health awareness, increase research funding, increase the number of care providers and improve social-emotional education for our children.

  54. @Jeff Hawthorne Helping to reduce the stigma associated with psychiatric illness and treatment remains a crucial part of curbing suicides. Over the last 15-20 years, there have been significant advances in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders in adolescents and young adults. Help is available to those who seek it.

  55. @Jeff Hawthorne My heart breaks for you and your wife. I can't think of anything more difficult. So worrisome to see our young people struggling as they are. Sending hugs. A Fellow Boomer from the Bay Area.

  56. @Doctor B Having spent thousands of dollars seeking that help, I have to say that help is available if you can afford it, if you live in a place that has the help, if you can muster the energy to look for help when so desperately ill. Sadly there are a lot of ifs to getting mental health care. Sadly also, in all the years I have had mental illness, I have never received any solicitation by phone or mail for mental health support but have fielded hundreds of solicitations for other illnesses. Mental health has a long way to go to be really mainstreamed into the healthcare system.

  57. So much of anyone's mental state is determined by how they perceive themselves. It is a sign of mental health for a person to change their perspective in response to changing circumstances. This psychological task is important during every portion of the life cycle. In my role of as psychiatric consultant to medical patients at a major teaching hospital, I have helped thousands of patients confront the crisis posed by serious medical conditions and successfully adopt a new frame of reference, enabling them to effectively cope with life changing diagnoses. The aging process itself forces everyone to confront the need to accept the unpleasant reality that we cannot longer do everything the way we always did before.

  58. But it is not always unpleasant to realize one cannot continue to do things the way one used to. Your statement reveals your attitude towards aging. Change is the only constant thing.

  59. As I turn 65, I am amazed that I have lived this long. Gratitude is the only emotion that puts this in perspective. We are only here in this life a short while. If you have lived long enough to be old, then perhaps you should find a way to give back and help others. Religious faith, charitable works, helping others, teaching those who are younger than you; these are ways that we can share the wisdom and perspective we have gained. Make good use of the time you have left in whatever way you can, because the end game is death, and in most cases it will not be quick or pleasant.

  60. @Janet Baker You - and I - have reached the penultimate stage of life: generitivity, when giving back is far more rewarding than getting. It is a blessing to provide even the slightest assistance or recognition to others, especially those who others pass by unaware. The money you hand to someone forced to beg for existence is so much more than the amount; it’s the smile and direct look in their eyes that recognizes and reaffirms our common humanity. None of us can long retain our sense of dignity and worth while daily treated by others as we don’t even exist. Giving enriches us so much more than whatever we give enriches the receiver. That is what economists miss in their free market theories.

  61. Thank you, Jane Brody. Your articles are always informative, thought provoking, and at times, life altering. You are a national treasure. Best of health to you my fellow cornellian, john p.

  62. Thanks Jane Brody. As a person who received a diagnosis of late onset bipolar illness in 1997 and has maintained my health with drugs and therapy ever since, I really understand your point. Fortunately the current drug regime works well for me and my case is not one of the worst. But you learn to live with your limitations while enjoying every day to the fullest while you can. I am grateful, and your wisdom is as usual much appreciated.

  63. I love this article which expresses my attitudes since I lost my yuppie-hood in the 2008 "new normal" economy and faced new varieties of functioning issues from accident injuries. However, one needs to focus on a life in safe communities that also value such spiritual aging orientations especially on social media and city walks and not seek reinforcement of one's esteem through others in those environments. For example I learned not to make eye contact with younger people who are likely to give me the "sweet little old lady smile" or not be Facebook friends with those who only post and value posts about grandkids and vacations.

  64. I was born with a number of birth defects (kidney and musculoskeletal). I've also had serious asthma since I was an infant (I take 4 doses of steroids a day, along with many other meds). I've never known a day in my life without some degree of physical illness, pain, or disability. I've had over 20 surgeries in my life. I am now in my 60's. And I am startled by columns such as this one, although I've started to hear echoes of Ms. Brody's comments among my friends. That is, people now over 60 are indignant or surprised that their bodies are failing them or that they cannot do many of the things they used to do. They overlook the fact that most of them had some six decades of perfect health. Somehow, they believed this was their entitlement. But I never knew a day like this. Since I was a very young child, I understood that I would need to live my life and accomplish my goals despite physical disabilities. And so I did. I put myself through college and law school. I had a legal career spanning more than 30 years, before I retired. None of it was easy. Every day brought me a physical limitation. But I knew very, very early on that if I let my illnesses limit me, I would do nothing with my life. And a very small silver lining has come from all this - I do not associate illness or disability with aging. I'm really not that much worse off, physically, than when I was young. This is who I am, and who I've always been. And somehow, I've managed to make it work.

  65. @Orion Clemens Thanks for your comments -- everyone needs to be reminded that good health is not something we're entitled to, it's more like a luxury. But I'm not sure most people do feel entitled to it, they just never think about it. For many of us it takes being flattened, physically, to wake us up to reality. At 72 I became ill and as a result lost several things I took for granted, like hearing, balance, reliable eyesight. But (now, at 74) I've found their loss has opened new opportunities to me. I can't say I think about what I can't do much anymore -- instead I relish with a new focus and intensity the things I can. Yes, I had 72 years of pretty good health, but now I have my remaining years blossoming with the joy of being alive and awake.

  66. Yes I too lost so much when I was ten years old. All I cared about was ballet. I practiced hours every day. I got the solo parts in our recitals. Ms Rinloub allowed only me to wear a tutu because of my perfect legs. When I woke up paralyzed with a bloody nose and raging fever, It didn’t take long to be told I had Polio. During the epidemic in Los Angeles in 1949 many children were in iron lungs, braces on their withered legs or died. So much doesn’t work out as we think it will or as we want. I too don’t want any one to think my limp has anything to do with aging. I’m much better now than I was 70 years ago in spite of everything.

  67. @Orion Clemens What's funny (in a sad way) is how often they actually make it worse. I have a contractor friend in his mid-50s who keeps injuring his back because he refuses to accept that he can't do everything he could when he was in his 20s. He's still in great shape for his age, but he's not what he used to be then, and he never will be able to get "back in shape" like he was then. He refuses to accept that he, too, will get old, and he sabotages himself because of it. Perhaps it's partly because he was such an extraordinarily fit and healthy man when young.

  68. Thank you Jane Brody. As always, beautiful thoughts, beautiful writing.

  69. Oh, I’ve always loved greeting babies and small children, and dogs, and their parents and owners, while out walking or shopping or doing other errands. It gives me such a lift! And I’ve noticed that my developing aches and pains recede or disappear for a while, during and after our chat. And yes, I’ve had to ask for or pay for help in the past, and I anticipate asking for more. But I’ve also provided help when I could when asked, and I remember how happy it made me feel — so much so that I almost felt guilty. So interesting. I think we are born wanting to help each other.

  70. @Dr. J I so agree with your last line. I am always saying, "We are put on this Earth to help each other". I don't always live up to that philosophy, but I do try every day.

  71. This one hits home, as I was hit with cancer in 2010. Since then, I somehow adopted a new attitude, one that was definitely not there before cancer... I'm happy with what I have. I don't think "if I had X, I'd be happier". I'm lucky to still be around. I'm lucky, I'm grateful, and I'm happy with what I have.

  72. At almost 30 whole years of life now I still don't feel any closer to acceptance: I only feel a deeply bitter resignation about living with Sickle Cell (a blood disorder one is born with). After having a massive stroke at 10 (yes, age 10) it left my body disfigured in so many ways I still can't really process it and I'm 29 now. I don't think I'll ever get there, no matter how much prayer and therapy sessions I have. I'll never live the life I should have and that pain is so grave I don't see how I can just "move past it". I don't even feel capable of planning a life like a normal person should. It pretty much all feels very hopeless, especially surrounded by family and friends who just don't care to understand.

  73. @Keely Yes, Sickle Cell Disease is awful. I am hopeful new genetic therapies will be the answer we seek. But meanwhile, you and many others have to live with the devastating consequences of Sickle Cell. Thanks for posting your perspective.

  74. @Keely I am truly sorry. I became disabled with a rare form of non-fatal ALS (known as Primary Lateral Sclerosis) at the age of 35. I am almost 48 now and still mourn the life I lost and am angry at all of the friends who chose to walk out of my life because my illness was too much for them to handle. I wish I could make you feel better. All I have to offer is empathy. I live with my mother, she is my primary caregiver, and she has been the person in my life to help me find my way with this progressive, degenerative, and ultimately fatal disease. I hope you find someone or something that allows you to find your way, too.

  75. @Keely Are there any online or in-person support groups where you can meet others with similar issues? I ask because my second round of cancer was made better - not easier, but better - by participating with one. In the aftermath, I share your bitterness about the life I didn't get to have (lost marriage, lost pregnancies). But I've found therapy helps, support groups help, animals help (if you can have contact with one), a lot of things can help - starting with being able to air your very understandable feelings. If you can't find one, would it be possible to start one at the medical center where you get your care? You aren't alone, it's just that our society doesn't like to deal with things that aren't "fixable," at least not by putting on a happy face. Good luck.

  76. Great article. Thank you. After I got my diagnosis of MBC 5 yrs ago, and then entered remission, I never understood the phrase "survivor," which implies that it's all over now. I never dwelled on what I had been through and hardly gave it a thought; and yet, I knew that it could always come back. When it did, I was told it is manageable and I believe my team. I live my life, go through the treatment, and don't dwell on my condition- but I am not a "survivor." This elephant-in-the-room is in my life: it doesn't mean I have to worry about it.

  77. @Ellen I am 5 years out from my MBC diagnosis this week! One foot in front of the other, thankful for everyday, relying on research and the love of friends and family. Every night when I take my Piqray I am beyond grateful. Be present and be nimble as we say in our family. Best to you.

  78. With healthcare, my husband and I were able to navigate the nightmare of COPD. A leading cause of death, it is a disease that slowly takes your breath away. We knew when it was advancing and prepared for the new normal. It allowed some sense of control but there are always, loneliness and isolation. Jack lost his battle, but his dignity was never compromised, he painted until the end. Bright and beautiful color and a view of infinity that I treasure. Health care for all.

  79. I have multiple sclerosis. This is the most positive and upbeat article I have ever read. Thank you so much.

  80. As I read the comments I find one consistency of those who have lived successfully with disabilities all their lives. So I know I am not unique...My children were all born with birth defects and my husband has a genetic defect that has increased in severity with age...GOD DID NOT MAKE ANYONE PERFECT. Success in life is tied to acceptance of your limitations and capabilities. And success comes in many forms. And just as every person is not created with the ability and temperment to be a groundbreaking scientist, not everyone possesses the ability to do whatever they would like or used to do. The World has become more accepting, understanding has increased, but we still have a long way to go. Technology has made the options greater. We now travel with a portable oxygen concentrator and small folding mobility scooter, neither of which were available 20 yrs. ago when we had to transport cases of bottled oxygen and scooters were the size and weight of motorcycles. The hardest thing is to convince people we are still CAPABLE and allow us the privilege of "sitting it out" when we reach our limit. I taught my children to tell their teachers..they are at their limit, tell them "I know my body better than anyone else, listen to me." and then ACCEPT that running track may not be for you. So I used to be a bicycle racer....I now use an electric bike. Life's tough, ACCEPT. And move on to those things you can excel at. Even if it means trying new things.

  81. @mountainweaver Please advise which folding mobility scooter you found. Is there a weight limit (for the rider)?

  82. @Which folding mobility scooter? The Triaxe "Tour" scooter. I believe it can carry 250 lbs. Last January my husband was hit by an SUV in a crosswalk while on his scooter. He was thrown up into the air onto the hood of the vehicle and then catapulted off onto the pavement beyond the scooter. His Triax prevented the SUV from running over him and literally saved his life. They are strong. The "Tour" model is more powerful and has a longer battery life. It climbs the hill out of our drive and handles gravel with no problems.

  83. @mountainweaver . Thank-you for this information. I'm sorry about your husband's accident.

  84. Thank you, Jane Brody. I needed to read this today. However, the comments that struck me even more keenly were those having to do with lack of health care and/or other financial difficulties, and loneliness and depression. Chronic pain also makes acceptance difficult.

  85. This column can basically be summed up like this: "when faced with adversity, adjust to your new circumstances and maintain a positive attitude." For those to whom this comes naturally, the advice is not needed. For the rest of us, easier said than done. In sum, not at all helpful.

  86. @City girl Please read the comment of Tim G above, who said in far fewer words what I was trying to say with my comment. Ms. Brody's column today is indeed helpful, and comforting to those of us who've had a loaded gun held up to our heads. You haven't experienced that yet it seems. And I don't think the resilience thing "comes naturally" to anyone.

  87. @City girl funny you should say that, I found myself thinking, “That’s nice, in theory... but what about when you don’t have a family or a spouse to live for... or your “normal” before the illness was already difficult?” The examples in so many columns like this seem to be people whose lives were pretty good and stable “before”... Where are the examples of the single person, without children or family, living paycheck to paycheck, and perhaps already living with a chronic illness “before” who lose their job, can’t work, have no savings and nowhere to go... sure, finding reasons to be grateful is more helpful than being bitter, but I wonder how one adjusts to a new “normal” when the old normal was painfully difficult. Ms. Brody? Any answers?

  88. @City girl This is something that is learned. I did a lot of my beginning resilience learning when I was a teenager, after a suicide attempt. There wasn't anyone to help me through it, if I'd even known how to ask (mental health was not talked about back then). It took me almost 20 years to begin to understand what resilience is, and how to do it, and another 20 for it to really gel for me. It's brought me through job loss, an autoimmune disorder, the deaths of half my family, more surgeries than I can remember off the top of my head, and a divorce. Most of us don't even know what resilience really is until there's been a tragedy of some sort. Mine just happened early, and then didn't stop at just one. Life is change; change isn't always fun, or pretty. But it's still your life and you might as well enjoy sitting in the sun as long as you can.

  89. Your readers should think about this book: Radical Resilience: When There's No Going Back to the Way Things Were. By the late Dr. Alice Scannell, the book - in easy to read and understandable ways - presents how we can build the "resilience" muscles needed to do what you have described in this article. That is, we can train to be able to adapt to any new normal.

  90. @Nikki Thanks for the book recommendation. On order now.

  91. I returned unscathed from combat duty in the Vietnam War and have gone through life as a tourist ever since. I have found countless reasons to be cheerful. Life lived in gratitude is the best life of all.

  92. @TimG Thank you for your service.

  93. My now 76 year old husband was diagnosed with multiple myeloma almost seven years ago. One day at a particular low point he was talking with a dear friend, a deeply respected and treasured rabbi in our community. Ray shared his feelings and asked the rabbi, ten years his elder, how he kept going with such energy and purpose. He said, “Ray, the first thing I say to myself when I wake up in the morning is, ‘Well, I’m still here. Must mean I have more work to do, and off I go.” That message changed my husband’s life. He not only says it when he wakes up but also when he’s in a lot of pain or when he’s just feeling down. For him, life lived with purpose has been and is a life well lived. Thank you Ms Brody for your writing.

  94. @Nansiej Your comment resonates with me. In 2011 my cousin, who I'd been close to all my life, died from multiple myeloma. It's an insidious form of cancer that eats away your bone marrow and turns the human skeleton into something like balsa wood. My cousin was very athletic and at age 63 he began having unexplained pain. Doctors didn't diagnose it immediately, but it turned out to be an aggressive form of the disease. 6 weeks after the diagnosis, he was dead. Last time I saw him was at University of San Francisco Hospital on a ventilator. He was heavily sedated and unable to speak. He only lived one more week. It was devastating to our family and I can at least relate to what you went through. Take care.

  95. Here's a few things I know as facts for myself. I am a spiritual being having a physical experience. And... Cancer is a harsh teacher but a teacher nonetheless. I told myself, if this is happening, no way am I going to waste this opportunity. My most two unfavorite things to hear or read: "John Doe lost his battle to cancer yesterday etc." Nobody "loses" their battle to cancer. We all try to get well. It's an insult to all cancer patients to infer that if we just fight harder, we won't die. Ridiculous. When somebody knows I've survived cancer twice, if they say "You beat it!" they get my well rehearsed, short speech on the topic. Here's my other unfavorite phrase: "I beat cancer" Again, ridiculous. Nobody beats cancer as an "I". There are countless people behind those of us who get better. There's no "I" to it. Actually, there's no "I" to anything of value happening on this planet.

  96. @American2020 I agree completely. Long before my 3 cancer diagnoses, I was diagnosed with a terminal disease, which could only be "treated" with lung transpantation (which is also terminal). How often was I told to "think positive!", implying that my failure to "think positive" would make me the sole engineer of my own demise. So in addition to your two "unfavorite" things that I share with you, I'll contribute my third one. All the best to you!

  97. “Unexpectedly, a beautiful thing happened,”

  98. Good suggestions, because when someone is diagnosed with cancer, it is very easy to fall into depression. Even Alex Trebek has recently talked about his fight with depression resulting from pancreatic cancer.

  99. @Mark McIntyre And sometimes the treatment is even more depressing and life altering than the diagnosis....

  100. In my 20s, I learned that life-altering physical change was not just for other people...Eventually, if we're fortunate enough to live to old age, we all learn that lesson. But learning it so early in life was a gift.

  101. I was forced to change my health provider a few years ago and with my first visit with my new doctor he scheduled me for a colonoscopy. The previous colon cancer screening of mailing in a stool sample was frowned on by some experts as ineffective when there was family history of colon cancer. My mother had succumbed to colon cancer (which I disclosed to all my health care providers). When I awoke from the colonoscopy my doctor and my wife were both smiling from ear to ear as a pre-cancerous polyp had been removed. I felt like I'd won the lottery. Over 55? Get a colonoscopy and potentially add years of colon cancer free living to your life.

  102. @Lee And yet, not even that is a guarantee. I had a negative colonoscopy in 2015. I had another colonoscopy in 2018 - and was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of the cecum.

  103. There is a huge difference between a disease or illness from which one can (if fortunate) recover and/or overcome and a disease or illness one will have for the rest of their life, one that will get worse the longer one lives, and one that will ultimately take one's life. There is a great deal of mourning that is done for the life that was and the life that could have been. There is a great deal of pain to deal with when loved ones turn their backs and walk away, especially friends. It is quite easy to tell someone how they should just roll with the punches and get on with life. It is not so easy to be the one living with the diseases or illness. I was diagnosed with a progressive, degenerative,ultimately fatal, neuromuscular disease when I was 35 years old. I am now almost 48 years old. It has taken so much time and energy to process and adjust and every time progression happens, I experience a time of mourning and adaptation all over again. My life is good, though it is not the life I wanted for myself, and I do believe being alive is better than the alternative. It is so condescending to pretend that you can understand anyone else's experience or tell them how to be or how to live with (or not live with) what they may be facing.

  104. @Christina So beautifully put, and so true! I'm 20 years into a progressive disease that usually has people bed-ridden around year 13-15. I have been bed-ridden for extended periods, and yes, have seen almost all friends and family members disappear because they don't understand. But last week, I was able to attend a special event with a loving son and his loving partner, that I attended for 25 years, but was unable for the last 3 years. So I'm very happy to be a lucky one, and feel very lucky, and happy. But there is, and always will be, a sense of loss. And constant, constant re-adjustment. This is life with chronic, disabling, and degenerative disease. It's complex. Always challenging. And always a mix of grief and loss, with hope and the firm confidence in my ability to handle whatever comes.

  105. @Christina People try to help. Kindness is a door that swings in both directions.

  106. @Christina I understand what you are saying, but when it comes to cancer, you never really recover fully. 15 years ago, at 48, I was diagnosed with three different simultaneous cancer (genetic defect in family). It's been 15 years, and now in my 60s, I still ask myself with every twinge, ache, non-ability to do things as easily as I did just a few years ago: is it cancer returning, is it because of cancer treatment or just because I'm just aging, and feel the way I do? Have I aged faster because of it? Am I retiring early because, now at 63, I don't have the stamina I once had -- because of the cancer treatment. And my life is interrupted every 6 months -- for the rest of my life -- for tests and CT scans, etc. I had to have cataract surgery 5 years earlier than expected at 55 (chemo side effect: if you were due to get cataracts, the chemo advanced the development). You change, and permanently, AC (after cancer). Life is good, but I do still have to make accommodations and will always. And yes, it is a new normal that you must accept to be happy.

  107. As someone who has a chronic painful condition I try to enjoy the smaller pleasures of life. If I could do one thing I think it would be to change the attitudes of people around me... the ones who get mad when I cancel plans or leave early because I’m in pain. Not everyone who has a debilitating condition looks sick. It’s depressing to hear friends and loved ones say that I could do something if I wanted to. I do want to do things but I’m not always able to. That’s life with a chronic illness. Be kind people.

  108. @Cindy Mackie - I hear you. I have severe epilepsy but to look at me, you would see a strapping, healthy guy. But I learned the hard way that if I'm tired, I'm crawling into bed and getting some more sleep. If I push myself, I can expect a wonderful event of 3 large men pinning me down while a fourth tries to start a second IV while telling me "Relax, you're having a seizure".

  109. @Cindy Mackie I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder 25 years ago and gave up my career and also developed fibromyalgia. You have said everything I would have said. It was only a few years ago thanks to transcranial magnetic stimulation that I had my first remission which is still going. But I have a lost a friend when I was sick and grieved that loss. So many of us with chronic illnesses look "normal." My new normal is to assess if I can meet the commitments I have made for the day and use adderall to get me through the busy days. Then take off a day or an afternoon. I pay if I push myself to do more than what I can tolerate. I am appalled that your "friends" and "loved ones" do not appreciate the suffering you endure and the efforts you make to live YOUR "normal" life. You need support not hurtful comments. Be good to yourself.

  110. @Janet Thanks for your post. I relate so much. Your sharing of results of TMS is also very appreciated. You sound like a very productive woman, obstacles and all. Thanks for putting out to a larger audience your experiences, and hard won knowledge and wisdom.

  111. Normal often is an unhelpful construct as it takes on an air of permanence that simply is not sustainable. If we can embrace a mindset that instead accepts, acknowledges, and embraces that we live in (and under) ever-changing conditions and capabilities, I believe it becomes easier to approach even the most challenging days with greater acceptance, confidence, and compassion, the latter both for ourselves and for others.

  112. @JBC That normal is change. It is one way to read the article. But I think it is also that people who are happy in their circumstance don't want change, and that would be OK too.

  113. Please take this article and these comments to the elderly who do not want universal healthcare or Climate Action. Look at what this individualism cost them, loneliness or broke. I just don’t understand elders sometimes bc some of them don’t vote for the Greater Good for All. Can’t wait for the young people to be in power, meanwhile let’s hope we can do what we can for Mother Earth. Written by a 60 year old.

  114. I don’t think a generous mindset is a matter of youth vs age. Some young people are responsible and community- minded, some still processing the life experiences they need to become their most expandive selves. Same with elders. We all stride or stumble along as best we can.

  115. I wish you had gone into what a life-changing diagnosis is like for someone who doesn't have a stable, well-paying job with good health benefits, who can't actually reinvent themselves because of the severity of their chronic or acute illness, who has to constantly fight with insurance companies or Medicaid, who has few resources.

  116. All I could think reading this was - new normal or not, I would still have to go to work every day. There's no other option for me. Acceptance doesn't pay the rent.

  117. @Glen I thought the same thing and yet it is simply not true. I had no other option either, but here I am, 13 years on, unable to work.

  118. @Glen Even in Pleasantville? Yeah, we are all stuck in it some way. I think she is trying to say something different; about how you view circumstance.

  119. My husband has ALS. He doesn’t reach a new normal because the new normal unfolds daily for him. Hard to anchor to a hopeful perspective when a degenerative condition is dogging at your heels. Surprisingly, many people expect him to do just that. My gratitude emotion tangles into vexation when someone says he should feel “lucky” because he’s not yet reached the Grand Guignol effects of the disease. I cautiously share articles like this with him. Yes, he has much to look forward to. Yes, I’m grateful he’s here with me now. But I don’t ask him to forsake those frequent moments of grieving when “happy” and “grateful” wink and grin helplessly from the sidelines.

  120. I don’t think this is an article for your husband . In my opinion it doesn’t apply to someone with ALS. I do hope the two of you can find the comfort and support you will both need in the coming days / months and /or years ahead .

  121. @Richard Hufendick Agreed. So many people have ALS and other progressive, degenerative diseases that are horrific to experience and result in death. I have PLS (they call it benign ALS but it is really non-fatal ALS, though those with it typically only live with it for 20 years and I am 13 years in...). I am sick and tired of people's condescension and recommendaitons when they have absolutely zero concept to comprehend what it is like living with such a disease.

  122. @Christina How lucky he is to have you at his side. Nothing can help more than a loving spouse. Caretaking is a very difficult task. I hope you yourself have support.

  123. It is all pretty true. I suppose it happens to people facing their ends, either sooner or later. Give up on ego and see the others around you. Happiness is better than the alternatives, although frenetic youth is willing to discard that in order to achieve whatever. It is especially true when I see these second amendment fanatics and am just bewildered by what they could possibly want. But obsessive goals drive unhappiness and foolishness. Lunar bases and Mars colonists? Holy lands and sacred texts? Mar al Lagos and Taj Majals. It is all so completely empty and does not compare with the smile that bounces off the face of a stranger when you smile at them.

  124. A big comfort to me at age 72 is reading comments section of the Times. I am beginning to see it as a public service because it provides me with a community of often kindred spirits. This group of comments is especially profound from the honest grumpiness to the broken-hearted grief and inspiring gratitude. At my age I am on my own and grateful for many privileges. Feel ready to some degree to move on. The hardest adjustment has been to what is happening to our country and the planet especially being a grandmother. I was born at a golden time wish I did not have to witness what is happening now.

  125. @Kathleen I'm your age, 3000 miles away, and feel just the same way!

  126. I am most definitely learning this lesson with my metastatic breast cancer. I’ve been living with this cancer for two-and-a- half years now. My lifestyle with my husband was extremely active, mountain biking, Nordic skate skiing, hiking, backpacking, camping, weight lifting, etc. Right now I can still engage in these activities but not at the same intensity. I work hard at being grateful and being present and this really helps me. The emotional trauma of living with an incurable disease is tough but I’m still alive and I will get up every day and do the best I can. I just read “Voices of Cancer” and I highly recommend this book, very insightful and helpful.

  127. A 96 year old man I know for over 25 years, in the last several years was forced to stop playing tennis, his life long passion. He is now captain of our club tennis team visits the club every day and engages with everyone at the club. He’s got plenty of personality and tells a great story. The point is reinventing yourself, advancing to the next chapter takes work, not feeling sorrow for yourself and engaging with friends and family. Not an easy task. Ms Brody has done a great service to us all by warning us to prepare before the next chapter arrives.

  128. I've been diagnosed with cancer (MM) and amyloidosis AL in 2014. I'm just happy to be alive and, yet, I let myself do feel the times that are frustrating (because my body is failing). If I occasionally vent, I find it healing. We do our best. We want to live a long life. However, the regret of not-doing something and the nostalagia of fitness and health do not inhabit me. I don'T have the time for those. I'm 50 years old - I've greatly benefited from my youth and my previous health. I have wonderful memories of being physically free. Now, I have two young children and I take satisfaction in encouraging them to be active and healthy. Nothing pleases me more than to see them growing up, even if I can not keep up. Thanks Ms. Brody. We all need such a motivating well-articulated article. Health on! Limitations and all!

  129. You never know how you’re going to cope with the trauma of a serious illness until you’re in the middle of it. The biggest shock for me was discovering that, despite all of my considerable efforts to achieve optimum health, there are NO guarantees. In my case, it was delayed treatment for what turned out to be a life-threatening ruptured appendix, resulting in a difficult (botched) surgery with serious complications. Four years later, still struggling... Apart from love given and received, there is nothing in this life more precious than good health...which is transitory. We all know that ‘loss’ is everyone’s destiny...but learning to live in the midst of it is a whole ‘nother story. I stand in awe of those who’ve managed it well, and can light the way for the rest of us...

  130. I had a serious health problems nine years ago. After a successful surgery and rehabilitation, I was 32 and supposedly “back to normal”. Except my old life didn’t fit anymore. My career, which I had been passionate about, was no longer satisfying. My personal life, which I had been neglecting, suddenly felt lonely. I’m now married with a three year old and although I’m so happy about where I am in a lot of ways, I also find myself trying to recreate parts of my former life I miss. This article is a good reminder to stop looking in the rear view mirror and give myself the grace to live as I am now.

  131. 10 years ago my lovely brilliant, public spirited physician wife started down the Alzheimer’s road. Today she is 67, does not know me or her children. We are married 45 years in May. I spent my 60s in total caretaker mode. I did everything I could for as long as I could. She will die anyway without ever saying goodbye. Caretakers of dementia patients need more than platitudes. They need hope for themselves.

  132. @Vince Brannigan My mother died at ninety after a ten year decline from Alzheimer's. She was able to function in assisted living but spent the last two years of her life in the memory care unit of a nursing home. I have had times in my life that were a struggle but the day I moved my mother into the nursing home was the saddest day of my life. I don't know what to say to you that will make you feel better except to say that you are not alone in your grief. Take care.

  133. So sorry for your struggles.

  134. The first time I heard the words "new normal" after my first bout with breast cancer, I raged against the idea. I would go back to my old self, only better. And I did. After my second bout with breast cancer, I've learned to embrace the "new normal". I didn't bounce back like the first time. But I recovered enough to be living a full and happy life - and that's all that matters.

  135. I started work at 18. I was sure I'd work until 70. Grew up poor, adjusted to working early so it was just my normal. Countless layoffs, downsizings, but I kept going. I can't even recall the names of all the companies i worked for. At 63 I was in a car accident, broke both legs and one arm, and found I had epilepsy. Had to learn to walk again, but returned to work. But by 67, the epilepsy was making it difficult to work. After several grand mal seizures at work I retired. But I was convinced, determined, that once I got it under control I was going to return to work. Two years retired now and altho I miss the hustle and bustle of work, I've accepted I won't be going back. Retirement is not bad at all. All the things I wanted to do but never had time, the ability to set my own schedule and be pleasantly tired at the end of the day from doing something I enjoy is great.. Always frugal and a saver, it's hard to give myself permission to spend, just a little. I enjoy a walk most days, noticing all the things I never paid attention to before. And I'm actually learning to cook. Everything doesn't have to be fast and quick! I don't have the body I had even 5 years ago so I see the changes, concessions to the accident arthritis and aging. You either accept it and keep moving, or throw in the towel and die. I'll keep going

  136. I was recently diagnosed with sarcoidosis in the heart and lungs. While sarcoidosis is not cancer it can be just as insidious and invade any and every organ. So far I’m lucky, the worst thing that’s happened to me is I had a pacemaker and now I have a defibrillator to keep my heart going and I have to take prednisone every day which is not the nicest medication. My new normal is not sleeping through the night and being tired most of the day.My new normal is not being able to see my daughter and her family, my two little granddaughters whenever I want because they’re sick a lot being small children and my immune system is trashed because of the meds. I’ve been a runner all my life and worked out rigorously, I am 63 years old, and that’s really all I can do to keep myself going. Can’t do that now and it’s frustrating and depressing. But, I am trying every day to live every day to the best of my ability today and that is really all I’m going to be able to do in the future as sarcoidosis is an auto immune disease that is not curable and can get so much worse. This is a wonderful article landing at a really crucial moment for me. Thank you so much for posting it.

  137. I find these "accept your new normal" articles tiring. There's a big difference between aging and disease and a bigger difference between a treatable disease and a non-treatable one. I've had breast cancer - surgery, chemo, radiation etc. and also have a progressive, non-treatable, non-curable eye disease rendering me blind. Everything is relative I suppose, but I found cancer treatment trivial compared to blindness. Comparing my new normal (which on some days is pretty miserable) to cutting back on your gardening or running is kind of insulting.

  138. @D I don't think the point is who has it worse or whose challenges are better or worse. The idea is in order to live the best life possible it is necessary to focus on what can be rather than what was. All our lives change in ways we don't plan for by illness, death or any number of tragedies.

  139. Different friends and I have been slowly awakening to "new normal" ways of seeing ourselves and still living our lives as fully as we can. That may not be what we once had, and it may not be what we hoped for, but accepting our own changes can free us up to enjoy what we've can be. A wise column, and moving comments.

  140. I read most of the comments here and feel so grateful for all the honesty and compassion. Just reading the thoughts of the people here gives me strength. My new normal isn’t nearly as hard as most here but hard for me nonetheless. About 18 months ago I developed tinnitus. All night and often for most of the day I have a terrible ringing throughout my whole head. Nights are often just a few hours of restless sleep brought on by exhaustion and I awake to a jet engine in my head and begin again. I have much to be thankful for and so much to live for but some days are such a test of putting one foot in front of the other without giving up. I admire you all

  141. @Lawrence Twenty years ago I had a sudden onset of tinnitus following a course of antibiotics to treat an illness. At first I thought I would go mad and searched for cures. Gradually I adjusted and although I still experience constant ringing and other odd noises daily, I have somehow adjusted and I'm no longer troubled by them. Hoping the same for you.

  142. @Lawrence My wife also has tinnitus. Hers is caused by nerve damage from a stroke twenty years ago. Her doctor suggested a white noise machine. It is not a cure, but it alleviates some of the aggravation. It is soothing for me at bedtime. A nice plus.

  143. Lawrence, I developed a constant ringing in my right ear 12 years ago, at 33, due to standing to the left of my really loud drummer without ear protection. It is still there, but I rarely notice it. Have faith you may adjust to it as well!

  144. Thank you, Jane. I am in my 60s with two knees that need replacing, a bad back, and painful fallen arches. Not a smoker, always exercised, not overweight, and did not expect the arthritis curve ball. Life is not how I planned it. However, I wake up every morning, look in the mirror and say to my self, “You will never look better than you look today, so go enjoy the day.” That little pep talk to myself helps.

  145. We all need quality health care for all. Anyone can adjust to a new normal if you have good health care However since quality health care isn’t an American value age in Europe where you are treated with dignity and respect and your money goes a lot further.

  146. Thank you, Jane, for all of your articles and books, over so many years. I started following your writing in the '70s, and learned so much from your Nutrition Book and cookbook (which I still use). I feel as though I have walked by your side as you lost your husband and went through so many life changes. I feel as though you have been a companion through the many life changes I have experienced and am experiencing now. What a difference you have made, and are still making, in the world!

  147. This article and many of the comments have helped me and I’m grateful to the author and commentators who have shared personal and difficult stories with grace, wisdom and in some cases humor. I’m 70 years old and have had difficulty accepting that I can’t do things at the same intensity or frequency that I used to: back country and Nordic skiing, hiking, mountain biking. But I can still do them at a reduced level even though my body feels like it’s been beaten up afterwards and I’m so stiff! Many who commented can’t do what they used to, period. I seem to have another health issue each time I get the results from blood work. But so far they are chronic health issues that can be managed with lifestyle changes and/or generic medications. Many commentators alluded to life threatening illnesses. You helped put my problems into perspective and I’m grateful for what I do have, so far - thank you for sharing your courage and optimism in the face of much more difficult and serious issues than mine.

  148. The best advice I received after a late life epilepsy diagnosis was to practice acceptance and commitment. Acknowledge your issue, accept what you cannot change, and, using past positive experiences as examples, make a commitment to overcome your current issues. Not a cure but a way to cope. It helps with my self-confidence. Give it a try.

  149. Systemic Lupus stole my beloved career, my chance to have children, my outsized expectations...my health. The medications caused more problems: both of my hips are damaged from avascular necrosis. For over a year, I have experienced the pain & fatigue of Polymyalgia Rheumatica. I read that is caused from stress. Probably: in March of 2017, my then 86 year old mom fainted & hit her head. She suffered a subdural hematoma. My sister & I were told to say our goodbyes. Evidently, we are of strong stuff. The 3 of us worked through rehab & still do. My mom is 89, physically stronger than she was at 80 & scoring "normal" on her cognitive tests. As she began to realize how her life had changed, the best gift I offered, in addition to my time, was advice: hard won advice I learned daily: face your loss honestly & head on feeling the anger that arises when one loses anything, feeling the grief & deal with it honestly. Let it all teach you. Whatever "normal" we live daily is the only normal we've got. My mom lost a lot as did I. Yet, she will tell you that she hasn't been happier than since she lost my dad 15 years ago. It wasn't easy. She felt & faced a lot of horrid emotions & loss. Life changes. Changes may not a be our choice but how we face & incorporate them into our lives is always our choice. Living in gratitude creates a space for healing & happiness. Living in despair blinds us to everything. What my illness has taught me I wouldn't trade for health.

  150. What a timely article. I am 49. I look very healthy. I'm fit. I was also diagnosed with a chronic, progressive blood cancer a week ago today. It can't be cured, just managed. I have a lot to think about.

  151. I learned something helpful from this article. In the last few months, I received a depressing diagnosis, and it has been hard to accept this situation. I like this idea that there is no going back to what's "normal" because now there is this new normal. This is my reality, so this article helps me articulate what I am facing.

  152. “For patients with life-altering illnesses or anyone just getting older, it helps to roll with the punches and make the best of the here and now.” An Obvious observation to anyone with a reasoning mind.

  153. @NOTATE REDMOND It's one thing to observe, understand, and agree (or disagree) and have best intentions to roll with the punches and make the best of . . . etc etc. It's an entirely different thing to internalize what you know to be reasonable. It's that kind of thinking ("well, that should be OBVIOUS to anyone with half a mind") that leads to suffering. Our superior reasoning minds can really get in the way of enjoying life.

  154. @persona You only deal with what you can control. Therefore, resilience is important which entails rolling with the punches and accept your shortfalls.

  155. @NOTATE REDMOND I am sure I misunderstand the first sentence in your comment on the original post. We have to, and do, deal with all manner of things we can't control. To suggest otherwise would be silly.

  156. Amor Fati, embrace fate, said the Stoics.

  157. "Adapting is crucial." Vincente Garcia, winner of the 2017 250 km race on the Island of Hawaii.

  158. Stanton’s 80th birthday is fast approaching and he is thanking G-d for his happy life and the opportunity to vent his spleen on anything and everything on a daily basis in the comment spaces of the New York Times. Close by to the motto that says "All the news that's fit to print." Blessed by wonderful parents, a good wife, good kids, Kota the Wonder Dog here in the picture, many great cats who sometimes slept on my feet, work that was challenging and interesting, decent health, always enough money to get by on, all of these good things made possible by living in the greatest country the world has ever known, providing we can keep it. Disheartened and dismayed by Trump’s many calamitous betrayals of this country, I have been on a Winston Churchill binge for months now, listening to his speeches, watching films and reading books by and about him. Churchill understood far better than any of the political opponents of his time the greatness of his own people. That is what enabled him to rally them despite the hard times and carry them forward despite their many great losses. I pray that all of us will be able to find ways of rallying ourselves against the further depredations that surely await us in coming months and collectively carry the country to victory over the great misfortune that currently worries, burdens, baffles and afflicts us. Happy 2020 To Us All.

  159. Thanks for your article. I've gained similar help from a podcast by Larry Gifford called "When Life Gives You Parkinson's." Check it out, all you PDers.

  160. Hey, I have OCD. The good part is, I like to move. At 74 the PT folks and my physicians guide me down the straight and narrow on my movement. Lawn work you say? I try to do it piecemeal. You remember "What About Bob" and his baby steps. Right? Nonetheless, more and more, I have to pay others for the exterior work. As for our anectdotage, gallows humor is valid. We are all in line regardless of how we try to distract ourselves. Moderation can keep our lives rich as we treasure the fewer and fewer moments we have left. L' Chaim.

  161. Quick - get Ms Brody to a cognitive emotive therapist to work on her "life must be perfect" irrational thought. I find it flabbergasting that a columnist often dealing with illness and medicine thought she had a free pass when aging or falling ill. Not only is life not perfect, it isn't fair either. And, as many commenters have stated, without resources and good insurance, you don't roll with the punches, you can get flattened.

  162. Sorry, but, "happiness is your responsibility"is just another form of "blame the victim." It is a terrible philosophy and an immoral strategy. There comes a time when people are simply besieged overwhelmingly with disease with which it is impossible to live happily. Certainly not if they're told that it is their responsiblity. It's time to help those people be as happy as possible. So forget those leaves, Jane, and go visit your sick friends.

  163. I agree that your happiness is not totally your own responsibility and that by repeating it, we are blaming the victim. However the best advice I ever got on living with pain and disappointment is the following: “You can’t make it better, but you can make it worse. “ So first I try not to make my situation worse.

  164. if only it was so easy to be cheery. not so easy when your needs outstrip your $$. i'm reminded of the Frost poem that ends with something like, "provide, provide, or someone else will and you may not like it"

  165. Great story!

  166. Jane Brody is often, just for writing a NY Times’s health column, unmercifully pounded, hounded, hammered and pummeled for daring to try to explain in language a patient can understand the complexities of disease, medicine and health. Oh, how they stoned her for her column on statins. Yet, at seventy-one, and now suffering with a newly acquired, out-of-the-blue, autoimmune disease, a vasculitis with the pernicious name giant cell arteritis, I shout a big “thanks” to Ms Brody for today’s column. I need to hear how I might live with my new normal. I can no longer hike into wildernesses in Idaho and Montana, shoulders supporting my oft used blue and scuffed Lowe backpack, whole body alert for grizzly bear sign. I can’t walk a tenth of a mile now without stopping. So, I needed Jane Brody’s column, I needed to read Dr. Harpham sentence: “Even in the worst of times, we can strive to make life the best it can be.” To the both of you, on this holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the bravest men America has ever produced—thank you!

  167. And thank YOU, David!

  168. Wow another article about how we should just smile and accept illness ,disability and aging. Please don't you realize how insulting that is for most people who are ill. Illness/life is not a sport where we have to keep trying to improve our performance Yes some commenters here seem to agree with NYT but I don't believe them unless they are into religions pie in the sky philosophy. How about some honesty: being chronically sick is awful, painful and lonely and the only thing possibly good about aging is still breathing but is that enough? Unless you are very lucky aging or chronic illness means the loss of everything you ever loved or cared about and combine that with the destruction of our planet there really is nothing to smile about, is there?

  169. In other words, as Kenny Roberts (not Rogers) sang in "Cheer Up" long ago: "They said that I should cheer up, that things could be much worse. So I che-e-red up. Sure 'nough, things got worse."

  170. This article gives voice to many of the feelings I’ve had while seeking to understand our continuing destruction of the biosphere as we race to exterminate much of life on Earth. I am grateful for such thoughtful articles from the NYT. Be present in the moment and seek to enjoy.

  171. Yesterday I was wondering if drinking a vegan hot chocolate with my partner while watching the snow silently fall was the best time I’ve ever had. He is disabled with leukemia but can still make outstanding hot chocolate!

  172. Nuts to that - I'm cowering in fear and giving up completely at the first life-threatening obstacle.

  173. I was going to say you forgot one important thing, but reading the comments, I see you forgot two important things - first, always have a sense of humor..Makes life for everyone around you so much easier. Remember those pages of jokes in the Readers Digest ? They were there because it helps the old people have a better attitude..But of course, secondly, you must have health insurance that will ease your path..Friends and family you can't count on, but health insurance is a requirement..

  174. Thank you for this column. It's a refreshing change from many Times health columns, which advocate for strenuous exercise that many older people with arthritis or other chronic health issues can't do. The columns are invariably accompanied by commenters who -- at 75 -- run half-marathons and bench press their own (feather)weights and "never felt better in their lives." (OK, I exaggerate. But not much.) The truth is, it's possible to "do everything right" -- and become arthritic or seriously ill. And, if we're lucky, we all grow old. We do need to cope with these events, and it can be hard.

  175. Please drop this phrase “the new normal”. It is a glib way to describe (and trivialize) what often are heartbreaking and life-altering changes in a person’s life. There is no adjustment that will ever make some circumstances “normal” (new or not); for instance, losing a child to mental illness and suicide (to use my circumstances). I wonder if writers/therapists/others have glommed into this phrase to make themselves believe that everything always turns out OK eventually. I can tell you that I have adjusted and am coping and have many joyful experiences — but “new normal?” Let’s find a less-dismissive way to describe adjustment after loss.

  176. Yes, life is very difficult at points. For some of us it is more difficult or that difficulty lasts longer. With mental health issues, sometimes we don’t have the signal from our brain of feeling good or up at all I hope for you that you find the help and:or medication combo that puts you in touch with that positive emotion. My best to you.

  177. @Janet Shedd Thank you for commenting. Of course, no phrase or idea works well for all people. The article links to a Patient Handout that explains what I mean by "new normal for now" and the many ways it might help others. Here's an excerpt: Life feels normal when, for the most part, (1) your experiences match your expectations and (2) your routines help you get through the day. After cancer, differences between the way your life used to be and the way it is now can cause life to feel not normal. Why is it important for life to feel normal? You need a sense of normalcy to help manage the demands of life. If what happens usually matches your expectations, you can better prepare for tomorrow and minimize unpleasant surprises—both of which help decrease anxiety. If your routines fit your current circumstances, your days go more smoothly. That increases your confidence and saves energy, both physical and emotional. What is the new normal for now? The idea of a new normal for now refers to ALL the changes taken together, including... Physical changes Emotional changes New routines for managing life as it is now Life lessons learned through illness Changed relationships; new relationships After cancer, it's challenging to deal with the unwanted changes thrust on you. The empowering and hopeful part of your new normal for now is that it is much broader than only those unwanted changes.

  178. Be - Here - Now. There are many ways to chop that wood and carry water.

  179. What I needed precisely when I needed it.

  180. Pouring on the feel good commentary, about three years ago I noticed I stopped chasing my kids at the park which isn’t in my character. So I had an MRI and a 5x5 cm (avocado seed) tumor was discovered in my femur. Two weeks later the front tire of my bicycle slipped out from under me on a wet road and my knee hit the pavement with a direct hit. I felt my bone snap as the medics lifted me off the ground. Fast forward and the tumor was operated on successfully and I’m one year from the all clear when recurrence should be in the rear view. But somewhere along the way my leg got bowed off straight about 2 degrees which has been a game changer. It’s compromised my gait and I don’t feel like a quarter of the person I was. If anyone has any tips for how to casually tell your wife you bought a €1200 16” wheel folding bike to bop around the city more easily, I’m all ears. She won’t be down but I bought it as a glorified wheelchair and I’m only 44.

  181. @Hollis As Tom Waits sang: Money’s just something you throw off the back of a train... Mobility is not a frivolous investment. Enjoy your new bike (don’t forget to buy your wife a new car!)

  182. @Hollis I Don’t believe your wife will begrudge you this purchase. It’s *not* an extravagance. It is a necessity. It sounds as if you did the research & this is the bike you want AND need. Your mobility will be improved, and you will get exercise to support your health, physically & psychologically. Presumably, your wife wants you around healthy & happy & being proactive in this pursuit. If this were me & my DH, I would just want a promise that you’d buy a good helmet & use it!

  183. "Lesson No. 1, Dr. Pillemer concluded, is 'happiness is your responsibility.' " As a very recent cancer surgery/chemo patient/survivor at 69 years old, my response to this is "Bingo!". Not that nobody else can help, wants to help, etc. But it has to start with me.

  184. An excellent essay on dealing with life's inevitable hurdles. May I offer the following from my own experience. My early career often took me to somewhat remote outdoor locations with students for several weeks at a time. On one such excursion a student vigorously expressed frustration over persistently miserable weather conditions, yearning for just a few hours of sunlight and warmth. This was a learning moment, so I asked students how they might respond to such frustration as leaders. Their answers divided neatly in two. Some students said the better response was (borrowing a phrase from my army days) to "embrace the suck," meaning to slog through it all doing what had to be done to get everyone safely back to the trailhead. Others said that (here quoting a student) "it's all sunshine, it just comes in different forms," meaning to adapt our intended activities to the weather conditions while taking those conditions as an opportunity for unplanned additional learning. Happily, these students were in the majority. "It's all sunshine, it just comes in different forms" was like poetry. Now approaching my 73rd birthday, I think of that moment as I adapt to the limitations age brings. I can't go anywhere near as far for as long carrying as much as I did back then, but that doesn't matter as long as I treasure what I *can* do. Which in turn lets me expand what I can.

  185. Being stubborn with your doctor’s diagnosis can help too. My mother refused the chemo and took the surgery four years ago to remove stage 3 colon cancer. She was denied medicare for doing it but she’s cancer free. That’s not the first time I stood between my defiant mother and an insistent doctor who looked me in the eye and said “Your mother will die without treatment.” Well, the treatment private insurance requires them to give. When I was 18 a doctor removed her first pollup and said “If she walks out of here now with half her blood she’ll die.” I looked back at my mother, walking out of the hospital with her derriere hanging out of her hospital gown and turned back to the doctor and said, “I’d like to help you doc, but it looks like I’ve gotta cover her @ $ $...” That was 20 years ago. A margarita and some fajitas cured her right up. “So

  186. @Pass the MORE Act: 202-224-3121 It is good to have an overly pessimistic diagnosis---or to have random error work in your favor (Mr. Spock's definition of luck in Star Trek.)

  187. Literally 10 years ago ***today*** January 20, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And I've begun aging in earnest as I call it. AND I'm far too independent for my own good (and can be a pain in the neck to those around me sometimes). So for three reasons this is a lovely, lovely column to come across today Jane Brody, thanks so much. I've been your fan forever. Thanks for going ahead into the cave, and holding the light up high for us. It took me a while to find the silver lining after the cancer episode. There are still painful days even now when I realize what I've lost but I have to say overall I'm probably the happiest I've ever been in my life. To me it isn't a case of what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, it's a case of it feels really good to have endured, and I'm so grateful to have learned about gratitude itself. Sounds trite but being "presented" with that disease was one of the best (and the worst of course) things that ever happened to me. I had been through several years prior to that of one life calamity after another; the diagnosis nearly caused me to go find the closest railroad tracks to lay across. But somewhere in all that I finally realized how very very sweet life is despite what is visited upon us. I'm not sure how it happened. Like you Ms. Brody I too try to be generally kind, and do at least a good deed each day. It has come back to me in spades. Thanks again for the article; thanks to all you folks for wonderful Comments!

  188. @JaneBrody, the estimated 1 million to 3.38 million American children and adults who have myalgic encephalomyelitis (known as ME/cfs at NIH and the CDC) would appreciate reading an accurate and well-informed article in The Times about surviving ME/cfs in the US. There is no new normal that can be embraced when one has ME/cfs. According to the 2015 Institute of Medicine report on this disease, only an estimated 9-14 percent of us have been diagnosed. There is so much anti-scientific stigma held against the disease and those who have it that NIH only spent $12 million on research funding last year – for a disease that renders an estimated 25-29 percent homebound and bedbound. ME/cfs is more prevalent than HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. There isn’t even one FDA-approved treatment for ME/cfs, and fewer than a dozen ME/cfs clinicians in the US to offer clinical care. In fact, every one of us is left to rot in our beds and wait for death while the leaders at NIH move at a snail’s pace. Many of us face unending medical errors and medical abuse by disbelieving and uneducated physicians, the majority of whom are taught little or nothing about ME/cfs in medical school. And the esteemed Mayo Clinic stubbornly promotes graded exercise therapy that has been proven to be harmful for a majority of patients. Ms. Brody, search for information on Ron Davis, PhD and his son, Whitney Dafoe to learn what’s being done to people with M.E. in the U.S.

  189. My new normal is not what I expected but it’s what works best for my parents and my husband and me. I have had a chronic condition since age 12 which is managed by medication but that medication has many side effects and I have had severe complications. My dear husband has retired but he is fighting a family history of heart disease. My parents are in their 80’s. My father has several severe heart issues and my mother has stage 4 cancer. We have many visits each week and multiple calls a day and work together to make certain everyone’s medical needs and personal needs are met. It is a full time job and I have a full time job which I love but is very stressful. I thought by now life would be easier and predictable. I would have it all figured out. That did not happen. But we focus on the little things that make life better. The little projects that bring a sense of productivity and accomplishment. The little trips down memory lane. The visits to beloved family and friends. So the new normal is not what I assumed I would love, but I’m fortunate to live it with those I love.

  190. A typically perceptive article by Ms. Brody. One of the mistakes we make, especially in America, is that our life is a neat, linear progression. We tend to view anything that disrupts such progression as a failure, and worse, as somehow a failure on our part. We don’t eat the right foods, didn’t exercise enough, and more. We need to give ourselves a break. We need to embrace life’s essential messiness, go with the flow, and finally give ourselves a break.

  191. "Don't worry, be happy" is just fine for those who have a decent income, good health insurance (in the USA, that is) and a safe home. For many people life is just a juggling act between rent and food expenses. Health insurance is out of reach for a lot of people. Sorry, but a lot of people can't afford those rose-tinted glasses.

  192. A few days ago, I read a wonderful quote about the importance of “universally forgiving reality.” It seems profoundly important in a culture that encourages us to ignore reality and ‘just try harder’ to bend it to our own will. Though my own response to the barriers that come with age is to push myself harder, I find the idea of learning to forgive reality comforting.

  193. This is a great article, my husband and I are cancer survivors, we both adapted to our new normal, we could deal with the changes which required my husband to retire at a young age due to a relapse needing a stem cell transplant. But my children suffered thru the changes thru our new normal, it was scary when we told them about each cancer event, we were always honest, always keeping their routines but it was hard when people would visit/call to talk about our illnesses so matter fact, my son was particularly sensitive about people talking about my appearance ie hair, I bet they have a very different view about the new normal

  194. I wish we were better at realizing that it takes a village to be human. There’s nothing wrong for asking for help when you need it. When I was younger and healthier, I prepared meals for new moms, volunteered to help at school and community events, etc. That’ll why I am not disconcerted to ask others to pick up something for me when shopping or to drive me to a doctor’s appointment. I continue to babysit younger friends’ children when they need to get out for awhile, because that’s still among my abilities. Be a good neighbor.

  195. My first reaction is: Duh! This applies to anyone who faces a setback in life, not just illness. An injury, a job loss, a financial loss, a child with a disability, a seriously ill child or other family member--any of these can throw one's life for a loop. All we can do is step back and assess what we have left after such a loss, and then get on with it. Any other choice is self defeating. It is what it is, and now make the best of it. That was my philosophy all during my cancer process, at least during the times when I was well enough to have a philosophy. And when we got the devastating neurological diagnosis for my child. And when I lost my job in an underhanded way. It's a good thing if you can learn this before old age sets in and makes so many things so much harder.

  196. @Susan Not everyone is capable of just ‘getting on with it’. Some find it necessary to grieve before they can move forward. And grieving isn’t a linear process. It takes as long as it takes. Meanwhile, towards the end of my father’s life, his response to nearly everything was “it is what it is”. It drove everybody nuts.

  197. “Get on with it” is good advice but I may slap you if you told me that when I was in a terrible time of my life. Just sayin’.

  198. @Susanna Personally I hate that is what it is phrase. That one really deserves a DUH. No offense to your pop.

  199. Of course this makes total sense. Not everyone can figure this out, or have enough emotional stability to make it work. For myself, there have been blips in life to help with perspective. But what has helped me the most is observing the catastrophes around me and learning from them. Although I've not experienced extreme illness or hardship myself, I learned how to compartmentalize and make the best of situations through imagining illness or setback. That is why I feel life is good, what could ever be worth being upset - while I and my loved ones enjoy good health and a decent life.

  200. One of my silver linings came in the most unexpected way, and place, possible. After breast cancer and the many negative changes it brings, forever, it was a kind saleswoman in a high end French lingerie shop where I was shopping for a gift who put me back on track of one positive way to embrace the new normal. She spent a hour trotting back and forth, to find the right styles and sizes to fit my new self. It wasn’t easy, scars and seams had to work together, boning had to be in the right places. Most importantly, she completely rejected all of the ‘safer’ looking, conservative styles I thought were made for me, insisting that we find something both comfortable and sexy. She said, in French, “We’re going to celebrate these scars, we need a new ad campaign for this brand, ‘Lesson no. 101– - - Scars do not mean beauty is not possible.’ And she put me in a demi-cup bra, scars and all, (which I never would have had the guts to do) and I have never looked back. She gave me back a degree of confidence I had lost.

  201. @Denise I had a similar experience after shopping for new bras after my double mastectomy & reconstruction. I had BC as a late effect of radiation for childhood cancer. The treatments were so damaging after nearly 4 decades, my body has been through a lot. Buying bras & sexy lingerie took quite a bit of ingenuity All clothes shopping, for that matter, is a challenge. I’m lucky that DH likes to do that shopping for me. 😉 Post BC, though, I knew I needed a whole new set of bras. I made an appointment with a bra fitter at a nice department store. It was the best thing I did. This woman took my medically damaged, scarred, disfigured body in stride. She was incredibly kind & entirely professional. I wrote a letter of gratitude to her boss, which was very much appreciated. I have often thought that stores should actually offer special training to their staff & let customers know that it’s available.

  202. Please know that there are long-term residual side effects from cancer that one must often deal with AFTER they are NED (No Evidence of Disease). Much of it is from the treatment, and doesn't show up until several years later. My situation: cataract surgery 5 years earlier than expected (if you are due for cataracts, the chemo speeds up the advancement); lymphadema in one calf that causes swelling of the leg and ankle, two blood clots in my legs from the treatment and now permanently on xarelto, and upper intestines damaged from radiation, surgery, and chemo causing periodic severe blockages every 3 or 4 years that lead to hospitalization and eventually more surgery. But, I'm cured as of 15 years ago. And I deal with these things and am still happy, because, well I'm alive to enjoy the other things in life.

  203. Bullying is my new normal— but, today a co-worker brought her child to work...I asked what grade she was in, and she responded: "fifth grade" (without looking up from her cell phone). Mom laughed: "No, you're not, silly. She's in third grade, she says to me. The kid never even cracked a smile.

  204. Many comments have mentioned arthritis... and my biggest regret in suffering from this most pernicious ailment, is that i can no longer take hikes, or visit a new city and just get lost in the way I used to without suffering exhaustion and pain. Now I have reached the point of turning to something I have always thought was too touristy for my boho self: The Hop On, Hop Off bus...However, if it saves my legs, and I can see the sights, then I'm all for it. Manage. Adapt. And yes, roll with the punches.

  205. Jane Brody, thank you. Great article and comments like "Duh!" are useless. «Keep your eyes on the road ahead, don’t look in the rear mirror all the time.» is more useful.

  206. As the old adage makes clear; when life gives you lemons make lemonade! Or at least never stop trying. John~ American Net'Zen

  207. I find Jane Brody's writing most inspiring and useful when she focuses, as in this article, on medical issues from the patient's point of view, and from her own experience. Most often in health sections these issues are addressed by physicians and researchers. I welcome the change.

  208. Chronically ill for 24 years, stricken at age 40 with a Myeloproliferative Disorder. Daily medications, many hospitalizations, along with many side effects. I am fortunate to have a loving and supportive family along with exceptional health insurance. I found a team of wonderful doctors who have given me the ability to see my children graduate from high school, college, marry and to have been blessed with grandchildren. In dealing with loss of abilities, pain, medication side effects, and having to stop working at a profession I adored, the acceptance of my condition has allowed me to live a fulfilled, yet different life than I had once imagined. In my opinion sometimes life just deals you lemons it’s up to you to make lemonade!

  209. I don't think I am ill; however the digital environment in which w all live is wicking away every molocule of moisture from me; until I find the root-cause: I beg my eyes to not forget to tear- for I can't heal if I don't know how to tear! I beg my heart to not forget to beat to its own rhythm - for I can't live if i don't feel it's beats! I beg myself not to forget to sing my own song - for I can't grow if I don't hear my voice! I beg my face to not forget to fill the days with smiles - for I can't find my face if it don't feel the smile.

  210. I'm a relatively healthy 76, but I am acutely aware I am no longer able to do what I did 10 years ago. Thank you for this column which I will refer to many times as I cope with the "new normals" coming my way.

  211. Thanks for a confirmation of what all of us, young or old, need to understand. Every day is a new day and accept what is with us now and don’t dwell on the past. As a life long competitive person, understanding a new normal has been enlightening to me. Appreciate what you have, when you have it