Losing the race with old age

A rambunctious lifestyle, combined with an aging body that is breaking down, is a recipe for trouble.

For most of my life, luck has ruled. I survived a serious helicopter crash five decades ago, a serious car wreck several years earlier and a motorcycle encounter with a cow in 2012 that doctors felt should have killed me or, at least, left me with serious brain trauma and a lower amputated right leg.

Yet I walked out of the hospital in Roanoke two-and-half months later with my brain functioning (at least as well as it ever had), both legs and feet intact, and walking, but fate had other plans down the line, and I am now facing, a decade later, lingering effects of too many injuries, too many close calls and too many cheats on my health.

On Sunday, I took a ride down to Ridgeway, south of Martinsville, with Nick Piazza to enjoy breakfast with members of the Roanoke Valley Harley Owners Group (RVHOG). I did use my wife Amy’s Can-Am three-wheeler because of a balance issue that appeared to linger after catching COVID-19 last month.

Arrived home shortly after noon and dropped into bed, where I slept until late in the evening.

Say what? Exhausted by a ride of just over 100 or so miles? That never used to happen.

Yep, I was wiped. After a short time up, I fell back asleep until 0530 this morning.

A little research says I am suffering low energy levels in part because of COVID and partly because I’m 74 years old with lingering issues from past injuries.

I’m losing my hearing at a faster-than-normal pace. More than 70% of my ability to hear is gone in my right ear and about half in the left. Test with various hearing aids show no improvement and I face more tests next month to see if surgery might repair some of the damage.

My memory is failing, particularly in the short-term, a condition that could point to early-onset dementia, a likely condition for those who have suffered MBT (Massive Brain Trauma), which was diagnosed after the motorcycle-car crash in 2012. I now walk with a limp that is getting worse. Rapidly-advancing arthritis makes it difficult to type, a problem that writers don’t need or want.

The word from doctors is straight to the point: Slow down. Give my body and mind some time to relax and heal before it is too late.

Severe hearing loss is a big problem for a newspaperman. If I can’t hear people speaking at public hearings, it is damn near impossible to understand what they are saying. The Floyd County Board of Supervisors meets twice a month in one of the worst acoustic rooms possible. Their audio system is hit-and-miss. Covering court is better if I pick the right place to sit to be able to hear.

Fortunately, my eyesight appears unaffected, for now, so working with cameras and video cams for news and sports coverage is unaffected.

I have tests at Carilion hospitals this week and next and again in July to see if any relief can be found on the hearing and memory issues. Is treatment available, or am I just a victim of old age?

Time will tell and, at this point, time does not seem to be on my side.

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