One of Bob Rivers' Twisted Tunes is called "I Can't Drive, I'm 65," and with Sammy Hagar about to turn 65 himself, I suppose it's time for me to contemplate what's left of my driving competence as I approach 60.
And no, I'm not particularly impaired. I think. My most recent vision test showed some deterioration at very short ranges, but none at typical driving distances, at least with corrective lenses, which I've worn for the last forty-five years anyway. And last year my autonomic nervous system was tested, and an imbalance was found, for which beta blockers were prescribed; the symptoms have since (mostly) faded. Overall, therefore, I don't think I'm any worse off than I was ten years ago, and while my auto-insurance premiums have risen about 20 percent since then, I've since changed cars, so the numbers perhaps are not strictly comparable. (Nor will I assume that my skills will decline as my vehicle ages: I'm fairly attentive to matters pertaining to automotive maintenance, at considerable expense to myself, though I figure that $2000 in repair bills in a year beats the hell out of $4000 worth of car payments.)
It's probably a reasonable expectation that I'm not going to retain this level of physical competence indefinitely: things do slow down with age. Still, I'm doing better than I had any reason to expect. I had knee surgery in 2004; I had been told at that time that the other knee would quickly require the same, and that I was looking at actual replacements by sixty. So far, the other knee remains untouched, and replacement seems to be way off in the distance somewhere. It doesn't hurt that I've lost around sixty pounds since then, reducing the load on those poor old joints.
But having to cadge a ride to work with someone while the car was getting its cooling system redone (new radiator and hoses, anyway) reminded me of how much I hate the idea of being dependent on someone else for just about anything. Not being able to walk, should it ever come to that, will be traumatic in the extreme. Then again, of all the people with ostensibly "sit-down" jobs, I am one of the least sedentary: the idea of being stuck in a chair for more than 90 minutes at a time is unthinkable. Getting up and moving is essential, and my job as currently constituted requires rather a lot of it. Nor do I veg out in front of the TV set for long periods. I must have my sports, and by "sports" these days I mean "Thunder basketball," but I was raised on radio, having in my youth sought out faraway AM blowtorches to listen to Major League Baseball, which in the 1960s was still primarily a Northern phenomenon, and I was, despite my birth certificate, a Southern kid. (Then in 1966 the Braves moved to Atlanta, which upset several applecarts.) I have three radios with presets, and in all of them, the first AM button is on a sports station. (The first FM button is on a classical-music station. Go figure.)
For several years I have been batting hypertension, mostly successfully: only once in the last decade or so has my blood pressure seemed too high for conditions. My treatment for this includes a diuretic, which has the side effect of requiring that I get up once in a while, if only to make the jaunt to the nearest toilet. (My liquid consumption is somewhere in the vicinity of three quarts a day, about 60 percent of which is tap water.) This isn't my idea of exercise, but hey, it keeps me moving, so to speak.
A horrible vision of the future just popped up: me, God knows how old, bedridden, with my one good eye on ESPN and the bad one trying to focus on where they left the bedpan. (They'll let you have a TV set in the home, but not a radio.) I am not at all looking forward to that sort of thing. Maybe I'll go for a drive, just to clear my mind.
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Copyright © 2012 by Charles G. Hill