I want to make it to 72. I want to be a 72-year old paramedic. I would like to live much longer of course. 84 sounds good. Or older would be even better as long (as I am reasonably healthy), but I want to be working as a paramedic at 72, even if I am only working part-time. I remember once many years ago, another medic, who was in his twenties told me he didn’t want to be still doing this at age 50. I had to laugh. I might not have been fifty yet at that time, but I was clearly headed there, and not uncomfortable with it. That young man is still in EMS although I don’t see him on the road except rarely. He works for another company as a dispatch supervisor. They only put him in an ambulance when the system is overloaded.
I don’t know if I will make 72. The last couple of years have been hard on me. I worry most about my balance. At six-eight, my center of gravity is high. I fear icy sidewalks having suffered several feet-up-in-the-air falls over the years. Each time I landed, I checked myself. Hips still intact, I rose and carried on. Last year I had my boots resoled to make certain I had good tread. I have to keep an eye on the soles. Walking up and down stairs I find myself using the hand rails more often than I used to. When I get out of the back of the ambulance, any time a partner offers me a hand, I raise an elbow as if to strike them as I slowly back out the rear. I’m good, I say.
To improve my balance I stand a bosu ball and do boxing moves with 5 lb dumbbells. I consider it a success if I can get through the moves (20 side raises, 20 jabs, 20 hooks, 20 uppercuts, 20 curls) without falling off.
Recently I had a syncopal episode. It happened at home. I stood up too quickly and became instantly light-headed. My sight got hazy, then I was on the floor. I wasn’t out for but a few seconds and did not strike my head. I wasn’t too concerned. It was a clear vasovagal event. My pulse was good and regular when I checked it. My blood pressure was fine — on the low end, which is normal for me. I did crack a rib in the episode when I crashed against the kitchen table on my way down, but it only hurt when I coughed, and after a month had healed. I also cut my arm when the dish I was carrying splintered into pieces, one drawing blood. I have never been able to do whirly rides at amusement parks, and when I have tried I have been so dizzy afterwards I have had to lay down on a bench to recover. As I get older, I need to watch this.
I was real sick for a few weeks right before COVID hit in early 2020. I am still not convinced I didn’t have COVID as I had all the symptoms, and feel like my breathing never fully recovered. But on the other hand, I haven’t been sick since, aside from the day after my second Covid shot and the booster.
I used to swim all the time, but with the pools shut down during the early phases of COVID and subsequent changes to the pool schedule that have made it hard for me to fit swimming in my routine ( i used to go after work, but it is closed at that hour), I haven’t been in the water nearly as much as I would like. I don’t ride a bike anymore because I’m worried with the narrow high traffic streets in my town, I would fall and end up with a broken clavicle or worse. I don’t run either anymore because I have just fallen out of the routine.
I have been playing some basketball with much younger men. Each time I make a basket I feel like I am eighteen again. One night, a man who was 48 was saying he was the oldest one there. 63, I said. No shit, he said, running like you do. My secret is I sit out every other game and play absolutely all out when I am in there, sprinting on the fast breaks, leaving my defender in the dust (if I have an overweight out-of-shape dud covering me). It also helps to be 6-8. I score a lot on rebounds. I had one chance for an open 3 but passed it up out of fear of throwing up an air ball, even though swishing a three would have been the highlight of my year. Next time I will take the shot. Each time I leave the court, I breathe a sigh of relief. Another night of basketball without a career ending injury.
I have taken up a new sport, as well. My daughter’s basketball coach recommended she jump rope to improve her quickness. I bought her a rope and tried it a few times myself. It was difficult, but I got so I could jump for 60 seconds straight. Now I am super into jumping rope. I can do a regular jump, a jumping jack jump, alternate step jump, and even a jump where you swing to the side once, then jump and then swing to the other side. I still haven’t mastered the boxer skip yet, but yesterday for the first time I did 2 criss cross jumps in a row. My dream is to be able to do a routine of jump rope moves to Jingle Bell Rock and make it as a Chritsmas video next holiday season. Stay tuned.
I bought some high quality jump ropes from this place called Crossrope, including a ½ pound rope, whose weight made it easier for me to control. Anyone a beginner to jumping rope, I highly recommend a ½ pound rope. It helps you feel where the rope is to better time your jump. The company has an app that counts my jumps and has various programs and tutorials. Yesterday a new set of heavier ropes arrived: a 1 pound and a 2 pound. I tried the one pound and it was quite a workout. I don’t think I’m ready for the two pound yet. The highlight of my day now is my time to jump, but I have to be careful and not jump too much, listening to my body, any soreness in my knees or feet. My record is 132 jumps in 60 seconds. I like that the app keeps stats and challenges me.
I like getting better. And I like jumping. It brings me joy. It is good for my soul.
Nine more years on the streets. Fingers crossed.
Note: Shortly after I first drafted this (a month ago) my feet started aching, which I attributed to overuse injury. I thought I might have a stress fracture, but it is feeling better. I am limiting myself now to two minutes of jumping three days a week, until I get my confidence back.
Today I jumped for five minutes, tempting fate, I know.
Jumping is keeping me young. My daughters are into tick tock and Instagram. I surprised them yesterday by making my own Instagram reel of me jumping rope, accompanied by this excellent audio beat I found on other reels. I made it last night and woke up this morning and already had over 1,500 views with 48 likes! I told my daughter I am soon to be an influencer. When I hit 1 million views, I will quit both my jobs (to hell with waiting until 72!) and make reels and tick tocks for a living. I made my college age daughter promise to teach me how to shuffle (a tick tock dance) in return for her tuition check. I am anxious for my first lesson.
If you open this web site one day expecting to read about the life of a paramedic, one day, you may find you will need to bring your jump rope and dancing shoes. I may be a paramedic in real life, but in my soul, I am dancer (jumper)!
Also, my daughter asked what was up with the sepia filter on the reel. What filter? I said. Once you hit sixty, all you see is sephia. Good thing we got rid of the colorimetric ETCO2 and the old glucometer read-the-color strips long ago.
Soul Jumper on Instagram