I apologize, once again, for the short column that we put up  Friday morning. 2.5 hours on an operating table is, well, a bit less than inspiring – and because the eye patch was still on from the removal of my failed implant (after 25 years, just to be fair) it was Elaine doing the rewrite of Mr. Scribbles.

This morning, however, things are much better. The doc figured Friday that the “bad eye” was doing much, much better than expected. That’s what you call it when 20 hours after surgery you can do 20-80 with a “pin hole.”

So the beginning of the good news for us was that the surgery should get this eye back into the 20-20 corrected area – but that is still two months off. Even then, implant plus glasses, but any port in a storm (or any pinot noir, too).

The further good news was that the right eye, which was down to 20-100 to 20-200 (when things are that pissy, does it matter?) will likely be into the 20-30 to even 20-20 (with glasses) when fitted with a new type of contact lens. There has been all kinds of progress in and one of the nice things about aging is being around to enjoy the fruits of almost 70 years of science, since I was “a gleam in Pappy’s eye.” 

Elaine has been the perfect seeing eyes, I have gotten more used to her driving – a hard thing for a Type A control freak – and I am learning to live within my new-found, but temporary limitations.

All of this gets me to (yet another) aspect of “Urban Survival” that no one talks about: Namely the idea of surviving when one, or more, of your senses shuts down. 

Prepping for Senseless

If you want to do some testing of your ability to get along on reduced sight, a cheap pair of sunglasses and some 4-ought steel wool should do the trick.  Simply scuff the lenses up and there you go.

I don’t know about the second sense – taste of foods – but there is something to be said here, too when comes to a test drive..

If you ever lose your taste buds, two things become statically possible as you age. One is that you will lose weight. In my case, I have never worried too much about losing weight. Having some excess fat gives the body reserves for healing.

There is a serious science question here:  Is recovery quicker for people who are a few pounds over ideal weight?  My question is because it would seem that a slight excess of fats could be converted more easily in recovery than just eating your way real-time back to health.  If you find such data, please share.

And then there’s the second point about disappearing taste bud sensations. Our family knew something was amiss with my late dad when in his 70’s, he really lost his taste for food. The problem? Lost taste buds may be a companion of decreasing mental acuity – and his case was no exception: It was an early indication of Alzheimer]s. So healthy appetite (and doing at least something about it) is a really good thing.

You might not notice a major decline in tactile sensations, but it is somewhat related. The nerves in the body require a lot of nutrition ro fire well, specially the magnesium, calcium, and sodium,, and while eating a balanced meal SHOULD work, it often will not. Two reasons here: One is modern food doesn’t have quite the same nutritional value as foods from 100 years ago due to trace element soil depletion. The deniers of this will say “a plant is a plant, is a plant.” But that’s simply not so and I’ve had good results in testing with ground rock, believe it or not, as a soil modifier.. When we pull a tomato out of our garden, we can taste the difference. If you can’t tell a store bought ‘mater from a garden fresh one, consider supplements that might reinforce the body’s natural systems. Ask your doc about trace elements.  They may also play a role in cancer, but I’m not going into that…more research, as always.

Hearing is another one to be aware of: Again, the people I know who have hearing loss seem to do much, much better when they listen to the body and what it wants in the way of nutrition. All kinds of things are written, and if you check the www.pubmed.gov database, you can spend the rest of your life reading up on things like trace mineral amounts, but we’re believers in them.

This is not to say that you won’t have hearing loss if you pop a vitamin daily, but there is no harm in being proactive in this stuff. The cost of a good daily multivitamin is low and the potential returns are very high.  It’s no a quickie solution, but it seems to accumulate over time.  Just as living stress-free is a life extender, as well.

Last, but not least, I want to encourage you to get at least two different ways “out of your head.”

I don’t wish this on anyone, but suppose you had a stroke tomorrow morning and you could no longer talk. What’s more, what would happen if you had half of your body paralyzed and because of vision problems, you couldn’t see well enough to type?

Here is why I am (gently) pressing Elaine to learn Morse code.  (She does a fine job of gently resisting, by the way.)

If we ever suffer such a fate, (and we hope not) it would be useful to be able to Morse out messages with whatever part of the body works.

I would simply have a good laugh and pour myself a tall one. You see, I can Morse code with any part of my body I can get control of. Think of this as an “off-body” communications channel.

Even if the ears went, one could still copy code via a light! There is a lot of flexibility to developing this  off-body channel.

In the end, there are always certain fears; a hangover of socialization (such as it is).

One of these is being buried alive. There are actually coffins sold with built-in panic buttons. Which seems like a good idea if you tend to sleep 48 hours, or longer. Check local cooling=off periods, YMMV.

But another – and  worse fear  – is being caught in your body and being totally isolated. Brain alive, body non-responsive except for a foot, for example.  Everything else useless. Yuck, huh?  Madness could follow since the brain needs broadband I/O channels to shine.

A side benefit to Morse: you can meet some damn nice people on the ham bands. In fact, I had a couple of Morse contacts Sunday because it’s a skill at higher speedsthat (like shooting landings) needs to be brushed=up, now and then.

If you have a family history of eye troubles, practicing with touch typing would make sense.  Maybe you too can finish the Great American Novel you have lurking inside you. 

A Personal Survival Test

A long time back – like 10 years ago, or longer – I advocated a process of prepping for the worst with a “Turn off the Utilities” weekend. The idea was that if you really want to know how “prepped” you are, turning off the phone, cable, power, and water will quickly illuminate any areas of self-deception. (I have lost track of how many websites since have claimed to have “invented” the idea of utility-free weekends as a prep check, lol.)

Now? Something a little different for you to consider: Turn off one of your key senses for a weekend, or even a day, and how’s that feel?  

There are lots of ways to try this kind of “prepping for old age reality” exercises.

One way would be to simply put a blindfold on over one eye (or both) for a weekend. It doesn’t seem like such a big deal unless you are engaged in activities where there is a lot of depth perception required.

Another try it yourself (TIY) prepping exercise is to put one arm, or the other, in a sling for the weekend. This is a terrible thing to do, because suddenly, opening a jar of pickles one-handed becomes a massive exercise is creative problem-solving.

Any of these will change your thinking just a bit and that’s the whole point of the process.

The same is true of pretending to have a broken leg for the weekend.  And if that’s too easy, toss on your bug-out bag and put in a five-mile hike. With no cheating, like putting the pack and some water in a gator-bag by the door ahead of time….

You know, it’s interesting. One of my daughters is very much into serious Tough Mudder events. And cool they are. But except for the rare chance of urban warfare happening on a rainy night when the pavement has disappeared and barbed wire has sprung up, the competition is not as useful in terms of personal survival, I think, than some of the exercises outlined above. True, if I was young, and was going into the military, mudding would be a great character-builder. But I’m more interested in the odds of losing sight, busting a leg, or falling while getting out of the shower and having a mangled hip. Statistically, the number of successful combatants in ware over age 65, or so, is low, compared with the number of broken hips, eye surgeries, and fallen and broken limbs and the like.

One of the greatest personal creative moments ahead of you, if you haven’t practiced for a broken arm yet, is the simple act of (pardon this) wiping from the “wrong side” when you visit the personal (ahem) recycling station in the morning.

So there is prepping, and there is prepping.

Elaine doesn’t think much of this kind of prepping.  “Deal with it when it comes…”
She has a point.  But anyone who is perfectly enabled can do mostly anything.  It’s how good your game is when you have an unexpected limit imposed that can make the difference.

To my way of thinking, it’s the learned mindset from the exercises, not the actual specifics that are the payoff.  Learning (again) to do what we did when we confronted tough problems in life the first time.  Noodle our way through.  With all the modern conveniences, that kind of stuff is easy to blow off.

Two views on the subject.  As always I like to think “I’m right” but more often than not, Elaine is…

Write when you get rich, or achieve “ambi-wipesterous.”