Friday, August 26, 2011


One of the grandsons fell off a play-structure this week and broke his arm. Minor breaks–more than one, less than five–radius/ulna, and now he's sporting a purple cast for a few weeks. (One of the spots might need a pin, but maybe not, we are going to wait and see how it heals.)

One of the risks of the active life is injury. And people die in accidents–in these parts every year, we have folks drown swimming, rafting, or just standing on the beach and getting grabbed by a sneaker wave. They die from falls off rock faces, bike accidents, skiing. Now and then an unknown pathological time-bomb goes off during football practice or at the gym. 

It's the nature of the beast.

You could sit on the couch and avoid such dangers, but, of course, that brings up its own set of problems.

Thus far, we have been pretty lucky in the Perry family. Neither of my children broke any big bones growing up. I've busted a few fingers and toes, an ankle once, plus a bunch of bruises and torn this or that, one shredded knee cartilage. Considering my history in the field of jockery, from running, swimming, biking, pushing iron, and martial arts, I can't complain. 

If, on the morrow, somebody came up with a pill that would allow people to live to, say, five hundred years without catching any fatal diseases, I expect that some of the riskier forms jockery would go into steep decline. 


Yeah, people would still want to be fit, but if you are risking your ass and it will cost thirty or forty years if you screw up and die, that would seem less of a loss than losing three or four hundred, wouldn't it? Sure, dead is dead, but risking hundreds of years might give one pause.

I'm guessing that the accidents most of us die from would suddenly find themselves being addressed differently, since without illness, accidents would become the leading cause of death. (Accidents are currently fourth.)  

If you were going to live for five centuries, then ways to protect that longer lifespan would become a big deal. 

The leading causes of death by illness in the U.S. are cardiovascular/stroke and neoplasms–cancer,  followed by lower respiratory illnesses, diabetes, flu, pneumonia, Alzheimer's. After that, it's cars and guns. 

The leading causes of accidental death are: automobiles, non-specfic other accidents–a lot of these in babies and toddlers–poisoning, and this would include accidental ODs on medications, drowning, and fires. 

Down the list, four times as many people die from complications of surgery as do from accidental death by firearm; however, intentional shootings–by police, in self-defense, and in gang warfare–do make the top ten list–one slot above suicide. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among young adults.

Take away the cars, the bars, and the wars?

Yeah, yeah, we all check out, and there's the zombie apocalypse and all, but the point here is that if you have five bucks in quarters at home, you might leave it sitting on the bookshelf; if you have a thousand dollars in cash, you are apt to put it where it will be a bit safer.

Same with your lifespan, I think. 


Anonymous said...

I've got to think the number of accidental deaths would remain about the same. I don't have the numbers but I believe most accidental deaths happen to younger people, people that tend to not have a sense of their on mortality anyway. You know how they say that the young believe they are immortal, nothing would change even with a longer life span.


Steve Perry said...

You'd think that -- if I didn't have the numbers, that would be my assumption, that it's teen and young adults who make up the majority of accidental deaths.

But actually, while 15-25 year olds are 14.4% of the total accidental deaths, and 24-34 year olds are at 12%, those 35-44 are at 15.7%;

45-54 = 12.5%;

From 55-74, it drops to 7.8%,

Then it jumps back to 12% for 75-84, and about that for 85 and over.

I would have guessed 14-25 would have been the big block, but it's actually lower than 35-44, which, compared to me, is young, but which is pretty much past the aged of total stupidity for most folks ...

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