Old and worn out but too damn stubborn to slow down

At age 75, too many of my OEM parts are wearing out and letting me down. If I were a horse, they would have shot me many years ago.

After more than three weeks of downtime after a severe cellulitis, edema, and blood infection, the doctors at Carilion approved a limited work schedule that allowed coverage of Circuit Court for The Floyd Press Tuesday.

After more than five hours, spent mostly on one of the courtroom’s hard benches, I got home to write the story for this week’s paper with my butt hurting more than the leg that I could have lost to amputation had I delayed any longer before giving in and letting my wife take me to the Emergency Room at New River Carilion Clinic.

Their treatment stopped the spread of infection and the threat of gangrene.

The infection caused me to miss any chance to photograph the Floyd County High School Buffaloes and Lady Buffaloes’ attempts to win Section 2c championships. The ladies lost the state quarterfinal match to Central-Wise and the boys qualified for the final four before losing a thrilling semi-final match to Radford by one point in overtime Monday night at Radford University.

The sports focus now shifts to baseball, softball, soccer, tennis, and track. Varsity softball and baseball face Auburn in scrimmages on the FCHS field Wednesday afternoon and I hope to be cleared to photograph the games when the seasons start.

These seasons mark 19 years of work for the local paper since moving back to Floyd County in 2004, after more than four decades of chasing stories and shooting images as a photojournalist.

The infections that put me down these past three+ weeks have made me realize that, at age 75, I can no longer do many of what used to be routine tasks. Too many parts are simply worn out, including a left shoulder that is “frozen,” which limits movement for a left-handed person. Orthopedic surgeons at Carilion are urging replacement surgery. The right shoulder needs rotator-cuff surgery. Both knees need replacing along with at least one hip.

Conductivity tests show key nerves in both legs are “asleep” and will never wake up. Hearing in my right ear is down by 90% and 50% for the left. Hearing aids cannot fix the problem. Neither can surgery.

Too many concussions over the years have left broughtTBI (traumatic brain injury) and too many indicators point to approaching early-onset dementia (common with TBI). Rapidly-advancing arthritis brought my typing speed to a crawl. I used to type 125 words a minute.

Time to slow down? Hell, no! I’m too damn stubborn. What I’m doing is really all I ever wanted out of life and reporting news and taking photos for newspapers and other forms of media is pretty much all that I know.

Let’s call it a Catch-22 of life.

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