Everything in the world has a certain life expectancy, including the world itself. If you live on Okinawa you will be expected to live a lot longer than if you live in New York City. All of your body parts will some day wear out, the hope is that they all wear out at the same time and when you arrive in the emergency room, they will tie a note to your big toe saying DOA, and send you to the morgue.
I am a good student of body parts wearing out because a lot of mine are already doing just that. But I know my right leg will be the last thing to go because I have a 16-inch steel rod inside of the bone because of a fishing accident.
Unfortunately for me, my eyes started wearing out several years ago when I was diagnosed with macular degeneration. Fortunately for me, I got hit with the disease about six months or so after they discovered a way to halt its growth. Every two months a doctor injects a cancer drug into each eye and these injections, though not curing the condition, halt the flow of blood over the retina for roughly the next 60 days. The retina has to look through the blood and in the center of your vision there is a big dark spot. If I look directly at your face I cannot see it but I can see each of your shoulders very clearly.
This limits my driving ability to the speed limit and my wife only lets me drive on the small island where we live in the spring, summer and fall. I can still hit a golf ball but I cannot see where it goes so I play with a friend of mine who is deaf and can’t hear me when I tell him where his golf ball is. That works for both of us. To add insult to injury, tomorrow I am going to Bozeman to have my hearing tested for hearing aids. Now I will have no excuse for not doing what my wife tells me to do.
The overall feeling you start to get is that your world is gradually collapsing around you. But that is not totally the case. I still get a lot of sleep because I have a CPAP mask that blows more air into my lungs when I am sleeping – last night I slept for 17 hours non-stop.
Activity is the main thing I miss at the age of 88. I considered giving up skiing last winter. That was because three years ago I was in a traverse, stepped out of my right ski and flew up in the air, breaking my back. When I tried to ski after the accident it was strictly a mental thing. For the first time since 1937 it was scary to ski.
The dumbest thing people ask me is if I miss skiing? Of course I miss it, but I have 73 years of experiences skiing and filming all over the world to write about. At the same time I write my weekly newspaper and monthly magazine articles and relive my life through the keyboard on my computer. I am really enjoying this writing phase of my life.
I spend a lot of the winter walking on ice and snow into and out of cars and places of business. Maybe it is my bald head that makes me look old, but it seems that nowadays a lot of people take my elbow and ask me if they can help me.
Many years ago, when I produced a movie to help popularize helicopter skiing for Mike Wiegele, I said, “If you don’t do it this year, you will be one year older when you do!” This advice applies to anything you long to do and is especially a valuable perspective as you age.
Whatever you do, don’t take life too seriously because you can’t come out of it alive. However, I am sure going to try!
For more of Warren’s wanderings go to www.warrenmiller.net or visit him on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/warrenmiller. For information on his Foundation, please visit the Warren Miller Freedom Foundation, at www.warrenmiller.org.
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