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Guy didn’t plan his own obsolescence

September 10, 2012 General No Comments

“It’s shot,” he said.

“Are you sure?” I asked.


This discussion wasn’t with my mechanic about a fan belt but with an orthopedic surgeon. I tore my anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, one of four ligaments critical to the stability of my knee.

“If you want to continue playing sports you’ll need a new one,” he confirmed. “I can harvest from your hamstring to rebuild the ACL, or you can reuse an Achilles tendon from a donor.” Ugh.

“Tell me about the donor tendon. Just where do you keep extra tendons & a cooler in the break room?” I’ve hunted for car parts at junkyards but recycling cadaver parts sounded ghoulish.

“You’ll recover faster this way,” he stated clinically. “I’ll have several tendons with me in the operating room to choose from.”

I imagined a lineup of dead guys laid out in the adjacent room and the doctor murmuring, “Yep, that one should work.” I hoped the donor was a former Olympian and not a chess champ.

Five years later my good knee is my former bad knee.

My brain thinks it’s 25 but my body says otherwise. Being naive I never considered that I’d wear out. Tires wear out. Appliances have obsolescence built into their production. Obsolescence helps to sell more dryers. Am I wearing out or am I obsolescing?

I first encountered dental obsolescence when I had a crown installed at age 30. My dentist said it’d be good for 25 years. You mean I’ll need a replacement when I’m 55? Along with my Ford, I need to keep a maintenance record for myself. Only have 51Ž2 years left on the crown.

I underwent Lasik eye surgery at age 43 to escape prescription lenses. “You’ll eventually need reading glasses,” the doctor said. “I’ll give you mono-vision to delay the readers, with one eye corrected for nearsightedness and the other for farsightedness. You’ll essentially have bifocals laser-etched into your eyeballs.”

The surgery went fine but I stumbled a while afterward as I adapted to my recalibrated depth perception. I now need readers to enjoy the comics.

Ten years ago my physician scolded me about my cholesterol levels. “Lose weight, get in better shape, and eat healthier,” he said. “You’re a walking heart attack.”

So I joined Weight Watchers, lost 40 pounds, and dropped my cholesterol 50 points. Unfortunately I now take Simvastatin to combat my body’s insistence to manufacture cholesterol.

I’ve dislocated my shoulder twice over the past 20 years, while kayaking. No surgery thus far but it’s loose. Even Legos loosen if you pull on them too often.

More recently I’ve had trouble with my prostate, a body part foreign to me. All I know is that if the brain is in the North Pole then the prostate is in the South Pole. Unlike polar ice caps that are shrinking, my prostate isn’t, so I take Tamsulosin to reduce its size. Prior to Tamsulosin I was a sleep deprived zombie visiting the bathroom all night.

These drug names are peculiar, sounding more like roster names from a Russian hockey team. “Simvastatin passes the puck to Tamsulosin & he shoots & scores!”

I consulted an expert, Marie Phillips, general manager of In Motion Fitness, to learn more about aging. She’s a 30-year veteran of the fitness industry, which continues to evolve in order to respond to our aging society.

According to Phillips, most people lose a quarter pound of muscle annually beginning in their late 30s or early 40s. By age 80 they lose one-third of their total muscle.

“We developed a senior wellness program three years ago and it’s wildly successful,” she said. “Taking care of oneself is less expensive than being in poor health. Exercise can help turn back the clock.”

Older folks say aging isn’t for sissies. “Do things in moderation and count your blessings,” they say. American males live on average to 75 and I hope to beat the curve. Nothing’s on warranty.

When competing against younger buckaroos in sports, I remind my brain not to write checks my body can’t cash. If I can delay my obsolescence through exercise, spare parts, and help from modern science, I’ll do it. Next up: the colonoscopy is around the bend.

Chico resident Eric Miller is a columnist for North State Voices, which appears each Thursday. He can be reached at ericmiller0463@gmail.com.

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