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GENERATIONS: Doug Lewandowski: Sometimes, it's just better to be lucky

Life isn't simple.

Doug LewandowskiIf lucky, the journey starts with all the necessary equipment; everything works the way it's supposed to and it's all in the right place. Maybe that whack on the butt newborns used to get was to remind them not to complain too much. Luck can change quickly. Those who continue to think they have control after that tap on the behind are seriously delusional. Plans are made and change, whether it's liked or not. So much of experience appears to be arbitrary, a coin toss that could just as easily flip the other way.

Being alive in this time there is frequently a failure to appreciate the advantages we have been provided by modern medicine. A person still has to read their body and its messages. No one is going to be dragged to a doctor. Medicine gives us a chance to make our own luck.

Much of the human body and the manner in which it works remains mysterious. At least the notion that "humors" explain the whys and wherefores of body functioning have gone out of style, unless of course there is an insistence that old videos of "The Three Stooges" or "Laurel and Hardy" are the best thing to lighten a foul mood. MRIs, CAT scans and other imaging devices give a peek into our inner workings.

A recent revelatory medical adventure included an explanation for this oldster of a reason why I can't raise my arms anymore to wave at girls as I drive by in a convertible. Seems like the rotator cuff has deteriorated into fat, leaving just a thin strand of muscle and tendon to do the work of being obnoxious. And here I thought most of the fat was between my ears! It's also kind of dangerous to lift your deteriorated arm in the air with the other one when negotiating a curve in order to give a proper wave.

When the miracle of cortisone fails and it hurts and hurts and hurts, state-of-the art advances in joint replacement will be there to make life easier. Of course that won't turn me into Superman, but it will help toward a good night's sleep. Don't think I'd fit in that goofy suit anyway.

The benefits of modern chemistry in medicine continues. Being able to take various polymers and organic compounds and merge them into combinations that tweak this and fine-tune that, adds to longevity and makes interventions possible when body chemistries go awry. Getting anesthetized is a real advantage instead of having to bite a bullet when Doc What's His Face does surgery on an arm, leg or other body part. Way easier on teeth that way too.

Modern antibiotics are a good example why it's better to be lucky in this time. The bugs we share the world with keep getting stronger and adapting. Knowing that they do and how they pull this off, will hopefully give us a leg up toward being able to keep a step or two ahead of them. If we are smart.

A note. I am painfully aware that many folks don't have options or are suppressed by genetics or history, both personal and cultural. But luck can be made, too.

More of Doug's writings can be seen at www.douglewandowski.com