Monday, June 13, 2005

Echoes of the Past

Yesterday’s hiking debacle affected me so significantly that I decided to call off of work. Sure, I was sore but it was my emotional state that kept me home.

I lived with my Grandfather for the last 13 years of his life. I watched his decline from an independent, capable and active senior citizen to an angry, bitter, enfeebled old man. One of the things I saw during that transformation was an inability to change his lifestyle when his capabilities changed. And in that I saw a direct parallel with D***’s behavior.

When one gets older, the body looses fat and the skin thins out. This change allows body heat to escape more easily, which is why old people often complain about being cold and, in the case of my Grandfather, can wear long sleeve shirts and not sweat even in the hottest weather. Because they don’t sweat, they don’t think they need to drink as much water. Also, older people do not process the water they drink as well as they used to, leading to more urination. These two things, not sweating and more urination, lead them to think that they don’t need to drink as much water. This is not true. Seniors are at an even higher risk of dehydration because of both the physical changes and the changes in their behavior brought on by a misinterpretation of those changes.

My grandfather did this all the time and it was a challenge getting him to drink enough water to keep him from getting dehydrated. The biggest roadblock was his own stubbornness in that he didn’t want to spend so much time in the bathroom.

D*** was doing exactly the same thing on this hike. He didn’t have enough water and paid the price. And what’s worse was that J*** was being an enabler by saying “He does this all the time.” I learned out that D*** also has circulatory problems and diabeties. Eventually, D***’s luck is going to run out and he’s going be in serious or even life-threatening trouble. And half a dozen miles back in the woods, it’s not going to be an easy rescue.

And here I was, having made a number of mistakes that could have been the difference between life and death had it come to that. I was angry with myself for not being prepared. I was angry and D*** for putting us in that situation. I was angry that I hiked back up the mountain for nothing. I was angry that, when it was all over, D*** still had no concept that he had put himself at risk. I was frightened that my lack of due diligence could have contributed to someone’s death. I was emotional because I was seeing echoes of my Grandfather’s self-destructive behavior and was powerless to do

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