Somewhere along the line I completely lost control of this post. I should just kill it and start over, but I'm not gonna do that. In the immortal words of the littlest, "No!"
Before I get stuck in, here's a blast from the past, Corpsman Chronicles the Deuce. Which is titled number one, because I can't count or something.
In many ways December was a train wreck of sorts, at least until Monday.
I suspect I was subconsciously avoiding a bag of emotional pain. My mind and heart seem to have been protecting me at several levels since Alexzandra died. To employ a half-assed analogy, it's like I had a lot of breakers popped and the heart/mind are only resetting them as they are able to take load.
As the winter solstice arrived something clicked and a breaker was reset. There's a lot of emotional current flowing through the reset circuit, but it's handling the load. With this particular circuit functioning I can see, at least in part, how fogged I've been. It's a revelation. I'm not quite sure how to explain what I feel and see now, but I think I'm going to be able to push out and do a better job of livin'. This is something I didn't expect, an emotional and cognitive state I had no idea could exist. In a way it's a growing thing, and growth is good. To butcher another analogy, with the winter solstice the sun began moving back north and the days began to get longer. Winter will clench her icy fist and spring is still a quarter of a year away, yet the kernel of spring is germinating in my mind and in my heart. In those places a new spring has begun, and it feels right and proper and good. The me I was a year ago is gone forever. The new me is changed very much. Perhaps for the better. It feels that way.
Noisy at times, but beautiful noisy.
I've had a few email conversations with the burgle. I almost believe I'm conversing with a hoomin burgle, but this one has not yet passed the Turing test. HeSheIt (first name only of course, in this case Sadiq) has keyed a few apologetic words but mostly proclaimed the fact that their sole purpose for being is to keep people safe. So primarily HeSheIt, if human, is a deceitful liar. Which is a good thing to know. At any rate I'm working on a new blog site which I hope to unveil soonish. In the meantime I'm still here. When I get shifted I'll get the word out through the milblog grapevine.
I hope this post isn't too terribly disjointed. Once again I've been writing it in dribs and drabs. Every time I get stuck in it seems something comes up. Mind you, I'm not complaining. The things that come up these days are filled with beauty and wonder, even though they sometimes have rough edges. I am blessed beyond measure.
As a sexagenarian in good standing...
Er, what's that?
Well, yes, the girls often refer to me as a sexy sexagenarian. More commonly as simply, um, Sexy. There's often a lot of whistling. Girls are good whistlers. None of which is, ahem, germane to the topic at hand...
Yes. As frequent readers will attest, some time ago I developed the hypothesis that old people should fall down a lot.
It's pretty simple, really. As upright biped ape-lizards who move about by walking on a single pair of legs -- for those keeping score at home that's a mere two points of contact with the ground 😉😈 -- we're gonna fall down.
As we get older we're still gonna fall down. As we get older we also get weaker, less flexible, more unsteady on our feet, and more fearful of falling. When we go down it's more of a struggle to get up than it was back in the days of our youth.
All of the above combines to make us more prone to injury when we fall. We're more likely to flail around in all sorts of weird dance moves as we struggle to regain balance, and when we fall from these contorted positions we have a much greater chance of hurting ourselves. These silly dances we do seem to be designed to put us in exactly the proper position to maximize chances of injury.
If you look at the numbers it's pretty clear that falls are a major problem for old ape-lizards. They kill many of us outright and cause injury which leads to death and/or sharply reduced quality of life for even more of us.
So guess what? We're still upright bipedal ape-lizards, and we're gonna fall.
So we're firetrucked, right?
Not so fast, shipmate.
If we're not yet in WTD* mode, with body failing to the point that we cannot, as opposed to will not, do physical stuff, we can train to make falling and getting back up more or less the same routine non-event it was a few years ago. The foundation of fall protection -- and many other wonderful things! -- is increased physical fitness.
But wait, there's more!
Are we terrified of the wuhandromeda strain? Are we at least concerned that if we get slammed by any form of influenza it might finish us? The first is a bad idea on stilts. The second is a reasonable concern. Is there something we can do to increase our chances of weathering a viral attack on our respiratory system?
Yes. We can increase our cardio-respiratory fitness. The better our heart and lungs are working the better they will be able to withstand a battle against viral and bacterial pulmonary attack. Is there a guarantee of triumph with increased cardio-pulmonary fitness? Of course not. It does, however, increase our chances.
"Now wait just a minute, Sonny," we might say, "I'm old and I just can't do that stuff anymore!"
That may be true. But it's probably not. We might not be able to snap instantly back into NFL linebacker shape, but when we apply our brains (not our tee-vee brains!) and put things in proper scale, context, and perspective, we realize that most people aren't NFL linebackers, yet there are a lot of people in good shape, and there are even a lot of old people in good shape. If we continue to apply our own personal brain to the concept, we will quite probably conclude that there's a difference between can't and won't. We might also conclude that if we haven't tried, we don't yet know whether we can't or won't be able to increase our physical fitness.
Ball's in our court. As the little green dude said, do or do not; there is no try.
A little personal story. Back in 2016 when I was ailing with a bone infection I decided to do 10 pushups one day. As it turned out I was able to do three pushups. I recognized how poor my overall fitness was; that even though I could do a bit of physical labor and walk around pretty good, I was really a fat, unfit firetruck.
A few days ago I did 1,000 pushups. Twenty sets of 50. Not all at once, no. Between 6 and 10 a.m. I completed 700, at work. After work I did 300 more.
Way back in 2016 I didn't just start banging out 1,000 pushups. I knew for certain back then that there was no way I'd ever be able to do 1,000 pushups in a day. It was a concept which couldn't exist in my mind, let alone be a real challenge. The certainty of my knowledge, as it turns out, was a case of won't rather than can't.
Do we all need to be able to do 1,000 pushups? Of course not. Do we all need to increase our physical fitness? Of course not.
Now wait a minute Jim, I thought this was going to have something to do with old-people fall protection!
Sorry, you're right.
One important key to a successful fall program -- that is a consciously planned program to survive falling with the least injury possible -- is to learn how to take a fall properly. Remember, it's gonna happen. If it's gonna happen, we might as well do it right. Right?
And of course, based on my long ago aircrew training which is still embedded in my core muscle memory, this is the real way to do it!
Learning to fall correctly is important. So is learning to get back up.
The point, once again, is that us elderly folk should not only be acquainted with the ground, we should spend some time there every day.
So why all this safe falling boolsheet? How about an amusing happening?
The other day I charged into work full of piss and vinegar. Upon arrival I realized that I'd left my hearing aids at home. Hearing-wise, this would be no problem; I can hear perfectly well (ish) at work. But what I cannot do at work without my hearing aids is stream podcasts. And while I can do the job of widget production perfectly well without podcast entertainment, I muchly prefer to do it with podcast entertainment.
So, I decided to quickly drive home and fetch the hearing aids, a trip which would take 10 minutes. Being full of piss and vinegar, I made a conscious decision to embark on the journey sans sweatshirt and gloves. Just a bit of a challenge. Life should have challenges. It was cold out and there had been a skiff of overnight snow, but there was essentially no wind. I departed and made the two-minute drive, patting myself on the back all the way. All those bundled up people had no idea what they were missing! As I got out of the hiccup (little one speak for pickup) I stepped onto a half-inch of new snow. Which had accumulated over a patch of smooth ice. My feet instantly shot out from under me and I went down hard. Thanks to muscle memory my body properly dissipated energy by executing an abbreviated PLF.
I also let my keys go sailing and they disappeared into the snow.
I sprang to my feet and took stock of my situation. I was balanced on the edge of an emotional cliff. Should I be pissed or pleased? I decided to be pleased, even though I was shivering and wet and bleeding and dressed in wind pants and a sleeveless tee shirt in swirling snow and stinging cold. This, I decided, was one of those livin' moments. I was in the middle of suck but I was performing well and as I should. I wasn't gonna bitch and moan and feel victimized, I was gonna feel blessed by exquisite challenge.
And in truth it wasn't much of a challenge. I pawed through the snow and found my keys, hurried quietly inside, grabbed my hearing aids, and zipped on back to work.
"Hey," said the fellow I work next to, "you're bleeding!"
"Can I get a second opinion on that?"
I looked at my elbow and realized it was bleeding pretty good, running down and dripping on the floor. A little direct pressure soon brought it under control and I was able to tell a suitably embellished story while I mopped up the blood dribbles.
It was a good way to start the day, and the day included 500 pushups and 100 flights of steps by 10 a.m.
That night, just after midnight, I woke with a great deal of radiculopathy pain. Clearly my PLF hadn't prevented increased swelling and nerve impingement. The pain is manageable, but I'd rather have less. Nonetheless, stretching, motion, step running, and NSAID's continue to be successful management tools.
And in case you were wondering, pushups are part of stretching. They certainly help to reduce the radiculopathy and they are giving me some serious guns, which is kinda cool.
Another cool thing on the pushup front is that I've realized I can execute a near-unlimited number on any given day. Wednesday I did 1,800. In one part of my mind that seems crazy and impossible. But when I channel the gift the navy gave me, it's just a thing. No big deal.
So is there a moral to the story? Perhaps it's this. Being prepared in body and mind to accept and push through life's challenges is a pretty good gig, at least for me. Sometimes things suck and are incredibly hard, but if I do the stuff I can do and rely on God to do for me what I can't do, the whole livin' thing is fantastic.
Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.
*WTD mode = Waiting To Die mode. There'll be time for that later.