Our Stories

Aging, Chronic Pain and the Embrace of Life: A Lesson for us all

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My name is Stanley Rafal. I am 86 years old and married 66 years, with numerous pain problems.
As I look back at my 66 years of married life, I now realize when we were young, how robust and healthy we were.  Maybe it is because I have time to think about things now, so I worry. When we are young you are so busy you don’t even have time to think about it. You have in your mind more important things to do. You just proceed with living.

Stanley Rafal and wife in black and white

Our Marriage Photo, 1953

The pain I now live with is because of spinal stenosis, plus the many other aches of old age that are with me every day. I am no longer able to get around as I had done in the past. It is tolerated, because of new discoveries in medicine.  None of which can eliminate or cure completely, however they make life bearable.  How we cope with them is the key to successful living.

My beautiful wife has had dementia for nine years, and I truly believe if not for the couple of medications that work, she would not be where she is now. We both seek out little pleasures that give us joy, like going to the park, getting a good meal at our favorite diner. Family visits are particularly cherished. These simple activities become the highlights of our existence, and we look forward to them. I read a lot and still take pleasure in watching a good program or documentary on TV. We both find certain shows mentally stimulating and entertaining.  Momma cannot concentrate on reading as much, so she will listen to an occasional television program, or just look out the window at our beautiful view.  We are fortunate to live in an apartment that has a terrace that offers a view of the cross streets of New York. There is plenty of traffic, people and vehicles to watch.  I am blessed because I have such a wonderful wife who has ideas just like my own. We constantly discuss our wonderful family, and how proud we are of them.  Family is a great blessing, and we feel we have the best.  In old age, life seems sometimes like a fight, which I have always tried to avoid. We feel this fight is worth it, and we will continue as long as possible.