Sunday, June 23, 2019

Prepping as you age-an update

I never really understood the saying "Getting old ain't for sissies" until the last 3 years or so.

Older friends always told me that you just "fall apart" at 40. I didn't - for me it was 42, when I completed screwing up an already partially screwed up back, trying to take care of an invalid parent without the proper knowledge. I managed to take an existing condition that was kept in control by a rigorous exercise regimen and turn it into a chronic issue by pinching the crap out of the sciatic nerve on the left side of my back.

Years of chiropractic work has kept me out of the hands of a neurosurgeon. My Dad had 3 back surgeries during his life, and having seen how well that worked out for him I have no interest in experiencing it firsthand. Yes, I know that techniques improve with time, but until I absolutely have to, I'm not going there. 

Fortunately, while this curtailed some of my physical abilities, I've been able to work around it. It's amazing what you can do with power equipment when you can't do it any longer with muscle. You could say that was...

Lesson One: Buy tools that lessen your reliance on brute force, learn to use them and then USE THEM!

Four wheelers, trailers, come-alongs, log splitters, cant hooks and all the rest of are worth their weight in the gold as you age. They multiply your effort while reducing the risk over overworking your aging body parts. However, you have to be disciplined in their use, and actually use them every time you should. No shortcuts because "it's just a little word I need to split".

Tools to lessen your reliance on brute force are only the beginning. As you age further, you're going to need other tools because the problem becomes an inability to do what you could when you were younger. For me, it was when I couldn't focus on the front sight of a pistol. Never having been the greatest pistol shot in the world, I was lucky to hit the paper. So...

Lesson Two: Don't be afraid to fix your body.

I went to a local eye doc who has worked on a number of well-known local folks, artists and the like, and these folks endorse his work. After discussing it several times over a period of years, I finally cozied up to the concept of LASIK. After a bit of a rocky start (you don't heal as well as you age, and I had some initial eye irritation issues because of it), it has been a game changer. We opted for a monovision procedure because my particular issue, presbyopia, simply isn't curable. As the doc put it, "The man who develops a cure for that will die very rich." However, I am no longer reliant on glasses to function during the day. I can wear normal sunglasses, which has been a boon to the treatment of my migraines. Oakley Fuel Cells are my goto, and they're as dark as I can find without wearing a welding helmet.

I do need magnification for close work. I have cheap magnifier glasses with one lens removed, a magnifying head set, a Luxo magnifier and a microscope (actually they're cameras with some serious macro lenses) I can hook up to a PC so I can see tiny things very large. Those tools allow me to do work I used to do unaided. Without them, I simply couldn't do some very simple things, like threading a needle.

And yes, I realize that I'm in conflict with Lesson Two when it concerns my back. I refused to be hobgoblined by consistency. :-)

My experience with Lesson Two leads me to...

Lesson Three: Don't be afraid to use "adaptive technologies". 

The items I named in Lesson Two, along with tweaks to computer video settings, the use of closed captioning (there should be a special hell for those idiots who have stupidly wide dynamic ranges on TV shows), laser and red dot sights on firearms and all the other tools that fall under the umbrella of "adaptive technologies" will improve your daily quality of life and allow you to continue doing the things you need to do in order to be self-sufficient and prepared.

Yes, all of this costs money. However, you have to figure out how to make them happen or face limits that you won't like. At all.

However, there came a time when a bodily system fails and simply can't be fixed. For me it was my thyroid gland, which apparently started giving me issues in my 30s and 40s. Neither my doc at the time nor I caught onto the problem; we just saw the symptoms and I "need to lose weight and work on that cholesterol". Eventually 2 + 2 was determined to be 4, and I went on levothyroxine, otherwise known as synthetic thyroid hormone. We still have to manipulate the dose from time to time, but with it, I can function within a standard deviation or so of normal. Without it, it won't be long before I literally don't have enough energy to get through a day's work. That gives us...

Lesson Four: The time will come when there's a problem that puts hard limits on your survivability in a long-term survival scenario. Try to be graceful when dealing with it.

I wasn't graceful at first. Not even a little. My body had let me down and I was pissed. Like many, I never really considered getting old and all the things that would mean until it slapped me in the face. To say it was an uncomfortable wake up call is putting it lightly. However, I'm stuck needing something that requires a functioning, high tech civilization to produce.

The thyroid hasn't been the only thing. While I can't prove it, I believe the onset of migraine headaches has something to do with it. I can go back into my early 20s and identify the very first migraine I ever had - now that I know what I'm looking for - but they really went off the charts about the time my thyroid took the last train for the coast. After years of effort, the past year brought 3 drugs to market that are specifically aimed at controlling migraine. I'm on one of them, plus Botox and a couple of the older drugs that weren't specifically for migraine. So every 3 months I get a load of toxin injected into 33 sites around my head and shoulders, and once a month I dose myself with a batch of monoclonal antibodies. As long as I do that, I have about 4 episodes per month, as opposed to the 20-25 I had before we found the Magic Drug Regimen (MDR).

Trust me when I tell you that I've been far more graceful, as well as grateful, for the MDR.

Sidebar: Migraine sufferers, there is hope. Get a good neurologist who specializes in headache disorders and get help. I put this out there specifically because the sufferers of headache disorders are four times more likely to commit suicide that the normal population. And for those who suffer cluster headaches (which makes migraine look easy), help is around the corner. Testing is showing that those 3 drugs work on cluster headaches as well. Hang in there a little longer. Help's on the way.

I've made my peace with the knowledge that, in a long-term survival scenario, I will be one who dies off in the first year. So will Mrs. Freeholder, who has her own issues. It is what it is.

In some ways, this has made prepping easier. When you draw your line at surviving the "everyday disasters" such as job loss, tornadoes/hurricanes and the like, there are a lot of prepping activities you simply don't need to do and things you don't need as much of. Your time and money, things in increasing short supply as you age, become more available for other things.

I'm still concerned about the longer term things, such as civil war and economic collapse, but I now think of them in terms of my children's and presumed grandkids' survival. As a part of a general downsizing, I'm handing out some of the tools, equipment and stores that I've accumulated. I try to teach without being preachy (and occasionally succeed). But I realize that that's all I can do. I won't be the old guy in the doomer porn stories who is the font of wisdom to those less prepared. At least, I won't be for long. :-)

Aging is an inevitable part of life, if you're lucky. So far, I'm lucky. Since I expect I won't survive a TEOTWAWKI-type disaster, I can now free up some of the time and money I used to spend on the subject on other things that make my life more enjoyable and pleasant. I won't stop and I won't fade away, but I will change because I must.