Sunday, May 8, 2022

Today's Rabbit-hole

How long will my surgery take to heal?

Simple question, no?

The answers on the internet ranged from three-weeks to four-months to sometimes-never.


Qualitatively it is due to age. Not necessarily our age by the calendar but our age at the cellular/DNA level.

We have all seen 39 year-old people who moved and looked like they were seventy. And we have seen seventy year-olds who could pass for fifty any day of the week. We have also seen, or heard about, people who never hit puberty. They never generate secondary sexual characteristics.

"Methylation" is the generic term for aging at the DNA level. There are other mechanisms but methylation is the most widely studied and documented. Methylation is not inherently bad. Remember the people who never got to puberty?

Some factors that speed up methylation are high-fat diets, high sugar diets and obesity.

Some factors that slow methylation are diets rich in tannins (coffee, tea, red wine, vegetables, whole grains) and rich in pigments.

Fruits rich in tannin tend to be either very "puckerish" or exquisitely fragrant. Tannin is a reactive chemical that transforms in the fruit as the fruit matures or wine ages. Early on it is puckery but as it matures it forms the backbone for the fragrances of apples, red wine and persimmons.

Methylation has many, many moving parts. There is no one food or chemical that is the silver bullet. The key seems to be to eat/drink many different kinds of food of various colors every day.

So there you have it: M&Ms, Skittles and Froot Loops are the perfect foods. Pour yourself a bowl, add red wine d' boîte and enjoy.

The Dark-side

Like all technologies, it can be turned to dark uses.

Degree of methylation could be used as a factor to rationalize medical care or to support involuntary euthanasia. The logic would be "This guy is 85 years-old at a cellular-healing level, why waste the resources or the bed in a care facility?"

On the other-hand, knowing one's methylation score might be a useful thing to know when making resuscitation plans. When my methylation score is over 80, maybe I don't want a ventilator or intrusive attempts to revive me.


  1. It depends who is using that info to make your healthcare decisions, you or "them".

  2. How long it takes to recover is a subjective question, do you mean recover all my physical abilities to pre- injury levels or do you mean getting back to performing 80% of your normal daily activities?
    From what you’ve shared about yourself I’d guess 6-8 weeks before you hop off the deck of a trailer or “jump” Across a water filled ditch.
    Don’t push it, a secondary injury would be brutal.

    1. 6-to-8 weeks would be great. Being able to shuffle around the garden with a hoe in my hand in a month (or less) will also be spiffy.

  3. Congratulations on your positive attitude towards recovery, that will help. RN for 45 years, nurse anesthetist for 30 speaking here. Do NOT try to "tough it out" by not taking your pain meds. Use them in the amount and frequency ordered. Constant pain increases stress levels, in turn causing the release of various neurotransmitters which actually increase the amount of pain you are receiving and upregulate the number of receptors which trigger painful stimuli to be sent to the brain, thus prolonging (rather than hastening) your recovery. Lots of deep breathing (frequency of deep breathing is inversely proportional to the time you are sedentary). Don't rush nature, you'll know when you are doing better, and since patients are human beings, who vary immensely, YMMV. Warm best wishes towards your recovery!

    1. Proportional to the time you are sedentary (maths are hard) ;)

    2. Staying ahead of the pain is something that is very hard for a lot of people to comprehend. They keep wanting to 'tough it out'. And can't or won't recognize they are prolonging recovery.

  4. In 2020 I had a foot infection that went hot. At the ER in large city hospital they started IV antibiotics and about midnight a surgeon came in and wanted to amputate in the morning. We settled on surgically cleaning the wound. I spent three months in a nursing home including four time a day IV antibiotics for six weeks and another six weeks of advanced wound care before I could return to my very rural home. The wound care ladies were adamant that it took so long to close the incisions was because I had a steroid shot in my lower back siv weeks before the incident, so there are lots of factors!