Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Reasons We Will Die

     We hear about political issues on TV and read about them on the Internet and in the newspapers. Trade wars. Abortion. Inequality. Corporate greed. Socialism. Health care.

     All these are important. But they pale in comparison to other issues that are more personal and more immediate, because they are the ones most likely to kill us. I've come up with a list of the most dangerous concerns that are right in front of our eyes, the reasons why we are most likely to die prematurely. A top 8, if you will. I list them in order, counting down to the worst killer at the end -- not to be morbid, but as a warning. If we pay attention, maybe we'll dodge a bullet.

     8. Global warming. The storms are fiercer, the fires hotter, the flood waters rising. At least one scientist speculates that deadly bugs and bacteria trapped in the Arctic ice will be unleashed on humankind as the ice slowly melts. Honestly, I don't think global warming will kill me. It might kill my grandchildren, but not me.

     7. Airplane crash. I know, I know, it's supposedly the safest way to travel. Tell that to the 346 people who went down with the Boeing 737 Max. And remind the seagulls to get out of the way of the jet engines. Okay, I will probably not be killed in an airplane crash, especially since I don't fly too often. But I am flying to Las Vegas next week, and I know I'll be a little nervous stepping aboard the plane.

     6. Opioids. Again, I think the odds are with me, especially since I don't take anything more potent than Advil or Tylenol. But I realize that opioids are seductive. Probably very few of the 70,000 Americans who died of drug abuse last year ever thought they'd be a victim, either.

     5. Nuclear armageddon. North Korea. Iran. Pakistan. Russia. Islamic terrorists. Any of these people could wipe us out at any time. I wouldn't be surprised if we're exterminated in a nuclear holocaust long before global warming kills us. Of course, we've been living with this threat our whole lives. But just because it hasn't happened doesn't mean it can't happen.

     4. Gun violence. There are some 30,000 shooting deaths every year in America. More than half are suicides. I'm not suicidal. I don't own a gun. Also, I'm not African American, and for a host of reasons black Americans are eight times more likely to be killed by firearms than white people. Still ... I do go onto a college campus about once a week, and that's where some shootings occur, and so every once in a while I do think about it.

A scary sight
     3. Falling. Some 32,000 Americans die every year from falls. Guess which age group suffers the most? One out of every four older Americans falls every year -- in the shower, on the stairs, slipping on a throw rug. Not every one results in death or injury, but according to the Centers for Disease Control about 7 million older Americans are injured every year in falls, with 3 million of them showing up in emergency rooms. I try to be super careful in the bathroom. I always hold onto the banister when I take the stairs. And I have a running battle with B who likes throw rugs; but t this point the only ones in the house are in her office.

     2. Traffic accident. If boarding an airplane, stepping into the shower or walking onto a college campus makes me a little nervous, then getting into my car should fill me with terror. And sometimes it does . . . for example, when a ten-ton semi is bearing down on me at 70-some mph, or an aggressive driver is weaving in and out of traffic, or someone is tailgating me on the highway because I am only going 5 mph over the speed limit and they want to go 10 or 15 mph over the speed limit. And then I notice, while they're breaking three or four traffic laws they are simultaneously ... talking on the phone! Probably the most dangerous place any one of us goes is onto an American highway.

     1. Ourselves. I have left the most dangerous issue to the last. I know I'm supposed to eat right. But does that stop me from reaching for the sugary donut? I know I'm supposed to exercise. But does that stop me from saying to myself, Oh, I'll do it later? Or I'm supposed to read a book, or do a puzzle, or enhance my social life by going to a party. All these things are supposed to make me live longer. But instead I flop on the couch and watch a rerun of some stupid TV show I already watched a few years ago.

     Yes, we can urge the politicians to address global warming and the nuclear threat. And they should. We can urge drivers to slow down on the highway. And they should. But sometimes we are our own worst enemy.

24 comments:

gigi-hawaii said...

Never take your next breath for granted. Treat each day as if it were your last. Meanwhile, enjoy yourself. You have only one life to live.

Wisewebwoman said...

Great post Tom. Our province of Alberta is burning now. We had snow yesterday and the whales are coming in a couple of months early and looking confused. And 1 million species gone in the past few years.

We can live long, sugar free, exercising and intellectualizing but can we prosper in the real sense of the word?

We might do ourselves a favour popping off before "our time."

XO
WWW

Olga said...

Heart disease runs in my family but so far no issues for me on that front. However, the other big thing in family history os accidental deaths and being a klutz . . .
Well, the other day I choked on toothpaste while brushing my teeth and my thought was "please don't let my obituary say I died from choking on toothpaste!" I would be so embarrassed!

Rian said...

Good post. I agree that while our generation "may" not die from global warming, I suspect that it will affect our children, and most certainly our grandchildren. The weather has been acting very strange around the world lately. Airplanes and cars are always a means to a possible demise, and of course falling as we age. I don't think opioids will do it for me since all I take is Tylenol... but who knows what the future may bring. I'm also on campus several times a week, so I guess gun violence is a possibility. And to be honest, nuclear holocaust is always a possibility... has been all our lives... and I agree that just because it's never happened, doesn't mean it won't. I learned this with Hurricane Katrina.

Arkansas Patti said...

Probably the only thing I am really safe from is plane crash. My fear of flying is so great that if I won the lottery and could only claim my prize in mid air, I'd have to give the ticket away to charity.
All the others except opioids have a chance to get me. Sigh.

Tom said...

Gigi, hence, the appeal of reincarnation. But even tho' dying is a perfectly natural thing to do, no matter how we go, it's sort of embarrassing, isn't it? Which is why we should remember people for how they lived, not how they died.

Barbara said...

Well put Tom. I remember as a teenager with the evening news full of Vietnam pictures, thinking that our world would self implode. At 69, I realize it didn't happen, but I still worry that it will - because we as a person, nation, world are so careless and thoughtless - and greedy, money-hungry and uncaring - about leaving a really big mess for the future generations.

Janette said...

Great list- and true. My son would like me to put in a PSA that nuclear plants (for energy) have noting to do with Nuclear war...and could really help with global warming (he is a nuc guy).
We moved to Delaware to help out our daughter's family in Maryland. Yesterday my husband and I had a heart to heart. The traffic on the bridge is out of control. An Audi tried to push me out of my lane---there is no where to go. 20,000 miles a year. The possibility that I will be killed in an accident are real. The plan to move is now a reality--and I am cutting back on sugar to hedge my time on the earth :).

DJan said...

Great post, Tom. I never thought I would get addicted to opioids, but in 2000 I was in a severe accident that fractured my pelvis in six places. When I awoke from the surgery that saved my life, I had an external fixator around my pelvis and was placed on meds that I knew nothing about. One of them was OxyContin. As I began to recover, I tried to stop taking the pills, but I couldn't. I felt like ants were crawling under my skin and my nose ran constantly. I eventually weaned myself off of them but it was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I lost two friends to suicide when they couldn't get off them. They are horribly addictive. Just sayin' I could have been one of them myself.

Janis said...

Such a good reminder that what we often fear most - the things the 24-hour news cycle and social media say we should fear - isn't likely to do us in. It's the everyday stuff that we should be aware of. Have fun in Vegas! We don't gamble, but my husband and I have been going every year for a Rockabilly event in April. If you have time, the Mob Museum and Neon Sign Bone Yard are interesting.

Celia said...

Accurate list. This month our town of 30,000 has two community meetings about how to get out of town in case a wildfire gets in. We have had a couple of close calls and the smoke the last three summers has been thick and persistent July through mid-September. Shootings, I have four grandkids in high school, large gatherings and just stray nut-jobs turning up at school are the stuff of my nightmares. And falls, not just the elderly either, since we are a farm/wine community this is a hazard way too often. I fell on the ice this winter, on my head and but here I am. A teen friend of my grandkids fell out of a moving car and is in ICU on life support this week. You could add being a young man to list of hazards.

David @iretiredyoung said...

My initial thought was that this sounds like it's going to be a depressing post, but you're quite right, there are a number of things where we can control the outcomes - some more than others.
Global warming, drugs, ourselves, they're all things where we can take personal action. Guns too - being a Brit, I really struggle to get my mind around that one (hopefully other readers won't be angry at me for saying so).

Mary said...

Good post...
The thing that worries me about virtually all of the things mentioned is NOT being killed from them, but being disabled or paralyzed or in a vegetative state...for me, a fate I fear worse than death.

Bohemian said...

Great List Tom... No. 3 is becoming more relevant to me as the Senior Falls, well I've had a couple lately. And I had a Friend who worked at the Medical Examiner's Office for 25 years and said the stats were that if a Senior falls and breaks a Hip, most are Dead within 6-9 Months! That was a sobering statistic! However, your No. 1 pick is so True, The Man and I are on yet another Quest to take better Care of ourselves and do what we must to stay vertical... raising one more Grandchild into Adulthood helps keep us very accountable, five or more years to go for her... but we should really do it for OURSELVES too, right?

DUTA said...

This is all true except climate change. It's going to kill us within 10-12 years , so it's not only the younger generations that should be worrying about. Contrary to what an above commenter says, climate cannot be controlled; it's the Creator's domain. Humans have miserably failed in everything, and HE probably won't give us another chance.

Anonymous said...

Do you boomers realize how universally hated you are? There is not one single demographic that does not hate you- white people, black people, asians, mexicans, indians, chinese, millennials, GenX, GenZ. Something tells me that you boomers are not going to have a very comfortable or easy retirement, especially once you end up in the retirement homes.

Can you baby boomers hurry up and fucking drop dead? Enjoy your retirement homes cause we younger people will not take care of you even if we wanted to, due to the shitty economy you boomers created. Do you boomers realize that the younger generation is simply waiting for you to fucking drop dead?

You are all going to end up in retirement homes and we all know that the elderly gets treated pretty badly in retirement homes. Well, that's what you get for ruining your own children's lives. Even if your children WANTED to take care of you, they couldn't, due to you boomers destroying the economy. So I hope you enjoy the retirement homes, boomer scum!

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, Anonymous. We're not worried about our boomer deaths. At the rate things are going, all the shootings at the colleges, high schools, grammar schools are evening out the score. Keep backpacking, climbing mountains, air dropping out of low flying planes, popping pills, doing drugs and blaming others for your opioid epidemic. Keep fighting for legalized pot! It really will be YOUR generation that will be wiped out. Most of you guys don't even have a high enough sperm count to father a giraffe.

Signed, Boomer Anonymous

Mary said...

Just so you know.....Ive seen the exact same stupid brainless anonymous comment on other blogs over the past 6 months or so, so it’s just some automated troll thing...
But I love the other anonymous reply anyway...
And you’re right...they are too self absorbed and clueless to see right what’s before their own eyes. At least we’ve all had a good life and lived during wonderful fulfilling times.
I feel nothing but pity for them...that is, the ones who may indeed feel like this...

Kay said...

You have such a valuable blog, Tom. I've added you to my sidebar now that I'm back in the cyber world a bit more after being away traveling and caring for my mother, etc.

I can relate so much to this post since I have fallen several times. And yes, I've got to watch what I eat and do better now. Ummm... My weight has been going up. Darn!

Rebecca Olkowski said...

2 and 3, falling and traffic accidents are the scariest for me, but you never when someone will press the button and launch a missile, especially these days. Like you, I believe global warming is terrifying but it will probably be a huge concern for our kids and grandchildren. We have to do something about it now and not just focus on the present.

Friko said...

I have news for you and everyone around: life is fatal, nobody escapes. Some sooner, others later, so let's make the most of what we have while we have it.
Only today I was told that someone I am fond of has three lots of cancer, none treatable. The prognosis is weeks. When I heard my first reaction was pity, my second sadness, my third: oh please, let me have a bit longer, I’m not ready. But it might be me next week.

Carol Cassara said...

If you consider all the flights that go out worldwide every single day it's hard to fear flying.

URGENT LOAN OFFER said...

We Offer Loan At A Very Low Rate Of 3%. If Interested, Kindly Contact Us. email us at (fastloanoffer34@gmail.com)

Enzo Gabin said...

It was during my research on HIV/Herpes that I stumbled upon the Hiv/Herpes information; information which is quite easy to find when doing a search for STD on google. I was into conspiracy at the time thought of HIV/Herpes Cured' being a conspiracy was something Ignorance though,I found pretty interesting about herbal medicine. I asked questions about the Herbal cure's on official HIV/Herpes websites and I was banned for doing so by moderators who told me that I was parroting Hiv/Herpes propaganda. This reinforced my belief that there is a cure for Hiv/Herpes Then i found a lady from germany name Achima Abelard Dr Itua Cure her Hiv so I send him a mail about my situation then talk more about it and send me his herbal medicine I drank for two weeks.And today I'm Cured no Hiv/Herpes in my life,I searched for Hiv/Herpes groups to attempt to make contact with people in order to learn more about Hiv/Herpes Herbal Cure's I believed at this time that you with the same disease this information is helpful to you and I wanted to do the best I could to spread this information in the hopes of helping other people.That Dr Itua Herbal Medicine makes me believes there is a hope for people suffering from,Parkinson's,Alzheimer’s disease,Bechet’s disease,Crohn’s disease
,Cushing’s disease,Heart failure,Multiple Sclerosis,Hypertension,Colo_Rectal Cancer,Lyme Disease,Blood Cancer,Brain Cancer,Breast Cancer,Lung Cancer,Kidney Cancer,Love Spell,Lottery Spell,disease,Schizophrenia,Cancer,Scoliosis,Fibromyalgia,Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva.Infertility, ,Epilepsy ,Diabetes ,Coeliac disease,,Arthritis,Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis,Alzheimer's disease,Adrenocortical carcinoma.Asthma,Allergic diseases.Hiv_ Aids,Herpes,Inflammatory bowel disease ,Copd,Diabetes,Hepatitis,I read about him online how he cure Tasha and Tara,Conley,Mckinney and many more suffring from all kind of disease so i contacted him . He's a herbal doctor with a unique heart of God, Contact Emal..info@drituaherbalcenter.com / drituaherbalcenter@gmail.com Phone or whatsapp..+2348149277967.