Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll, Shaking Hands With Death, And Embracing Your Climacteric!


Hi folks!

I attended St. George’s Grammar school in England in the late 1950s to the early 1960s. Here is picture of the school building as it was when I was there as a shy teenager who was definitely not part of the ‘in set.’ I did, however, love to study and learn new things.

St. George's Grammar School in Bristol, England. Image from

This scholastic edifice, which was very kind to me in many ways, exposed me to a range of interesting subjects including Botany, during which I came across an interesting word, climacteric. Certain words stick with me as they seem to have an inner beauty. This is one such word. I remember the climacteric in plants as meaning the point at which a plant ceases to grow and starts to decline towards death. This, I think, is a universal living event and I suspect that it is a subtle one that is carefully programmed into all living organisms, but is influenced by the prevailing environment with respect to time of onset. If you look up the word climacteric on line you will find definitions such as the following from the online Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Definition of CLIMACTERIC

1: constituting or relating to a climacteric
2: critical, crucial
  1. <as the war reached its climacteric phase, the atrocities dramatically increased, both in number and brutality>
[ORIGIN]Latin climactericus, from Greek klimaktērikos, from klimaktēr critical point, literally, rung of a ladder, from klimak-, klimax ladderFirst Known Use: 1582

This definition roughly fits my memory of the word as I learned from Botany. A critical point or shift. An alternative use of this term, from another online dictionary, is as follows:

Physiology. a period of decrease of reproductive capacity in men and women, culminating, in women, in the menopause.

There are astrological and other uses of the term climacteric, which clearly has a rich life as words go. I came across this term as an impressionable teenager, at which time the Beatles were coming into their own. I essentially ignored the latter event, failing to understand what on earth the fuss was all about. To be honest, it still confuses me, thus the need for dancing lessons, as I want to follow in the footsteps of Socrates!

“Socrates learned to dance when he was seventy because he felt that an essential part of himself had been neglected.”  ~Source Unknown

As a teenager, instead of dancing or watching Top of the Pops with my peers (I was an odd child!), I set to wondering when I would hit my climacteric and what would it feel like? I’m still waiting, but this does segue nicely into the subjects of sex, drugs, rock and roll, and shaking hands with death.

If the human climacteric in females is equated with menopause, then reproduction is clearly a relevant issue, which brings us to a very odd subject indeed, sex. I have noticed that most humans seem have a great deal of trouble talking about the most important subjects, those that influence all of our lives on this planet and thus really need to be talked about more, not less. Out of the dynamic tension of such conversations, if they are conducted intelligently, will come further mutual understanding and less discord, not more. Such subjects include politics, religion, and of course sex. I have only read two books on sex that impressed me, those being ‘The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature’ and ‘Nice Guys Don’t Get Laid.’ Both are fascinating and informative for the human male.

A book that turned my life around - don't be a nice guy, but don't be a jerk either!

Having touched upon the climacteric, sex and Rock and Roll, what about drugs, shaking hands with death and what all this has to do with an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) blog? The answer is everything! When you become a serious AAA case you truly shake hands with death, if you are not dead already, so that is pretty simple! Between the time when I saw my AAA on the CAT Scan screen, and thought “shit, why am I not dead already?” and the time I was administered my favorite drug, Versed (Midazolam), prior to stent placement, I felt that I was kind of dead, or just watching other people living their lives whilst mine was on hold. It was a life-changing moment for me, that’s for sure! Which brings me to the issue of drugs. Without drugs the stent surgery would have been a serious challenge for me, to say the least. In fact, I addressed the critical importance of anesthesiologists, who administer magic drugs in this process, as an invited post at Heartosaurus, thanks to Benjamin Casey (don’t forget to read his book, Barefoot in November, it’s good!).

The underlying aspect of these apparently diverse subjects, sex, drugs, dancing, death, and my teenage thoughts on the climacteric is what? It is fear! Benjamin certainly froze before facing his inevitable open heart surgery. If anything wastes our time it is fear, which comes as anxiety, shyness, and a general inability to flow through our lives in a healthy way. There is one quote that I truly like, the one by Roosevelt which goes as follows:

“All we have to fear is fear itself.”

So! Keep living your lives folks, as everything is temporary, including you. There is a nice meditation on this issue in the first few pages of ‘Who Dies,’ by Steven Levine, in which the reader to lead gradually to realize that the trappings of your life (car, clothes, money) are not actually your life.

Lots of food for thought!

So! When you reach your climacteric, remember that it is all downhill from there. Not so bad, speaking as a cyclist, that is!

-k @FitOldDog


Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.