A downed warrior in Paleo times

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 22, 2013 at 8:27 PM

I recently came down with a few illnesses at once. Pneumonia, maybe mono, encephalitis, and smaller ones as well as injuring my shoulder during rugby tryouts.

Now I am in a period of recovery and it's as if my entire schedule has been reversed from active almost all day from rise to rest; transition to fatigue, trouble breathing, and not much moving the entire day.

The illness and shoulder injury gave me a lot of time off to sit back and think and re-assess. I know I will return stronger than ever and make the right choices for my body this time.

However, one nagging thought I can't seem to kick is what would have happened to me way back then? I'm 23 years old, so I think I'm just around my prime in caveman standards. If one of the tribe got as sick (almost died, dropped about 10-15 pounds of weight, still recovering (2 months) and injured (couldn't use my right arm/shoulder for a month) so in total 3 months of unsolicited time-off from most activity other than dog walking on a good day!

I'd like to think much akin to sports teams I would have been benched (sent off with the women and old folks to pick berries and forage nuts) during my shoulder injury. As with all sports teams at some point they'd begin making fun of me for and joke at me for becoming a woman or old and this would cause me to preemptively return to the hunt (which I did by lifting weights again too soon, re injuring my shoulder) so not being in a prime state like before.

Then I get sick, I sought no medical attention and recovered fully on my own; therefore, I'd like to think the same would have happened back then, except probably with more help from the tribe, (I have a lone-wolf personality which hurts me sometimes)

the first two weeks of sickness were really bad, I slept for about 3 days straight, basically pneumonia coupled with mono and a the brain infection, so I wasnt even thinking like myself!

I just often wonder with the shoulder injury and sickness, at what point would the rest of nomadic tribe I was with look at me a say "you know lugging this 200 lb 6'5 guy isnt worth it anymore, he will never be able to fight or hunt the same again" and just leave me to die? Or because it's the winter months would we just find somewhere to settle down and 'hibernate' for a few months, hopefully I'll be better by summer.

Kind of grim, but really fun to think about.



on January 23, 2013
at 02:25 AM

Dead...... If you lived during Paleolithic Times you wouldn't be alive now......

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on January 23, 2013
at 06:19 PM

I think the tribe mentality likely would have prevailed and your tribespeople would have looked out for you. Like you said -- maybe you would have been off the hunting party for a while and just helped gather/forage or even stayed back at camp to recuperate. I think our ancestors probably listened to their bodies much better than we do now, at least from the perspective of the American puritanical work ethic. We seem to think we should be on death's door before taking a sick day, or that being sick is no excuse for missing a workout. We've sort of lost our ability to listen to our bodies and understand that sickness and/or injury require rest and healing time, not more of the same things that got us sick or injured in the first place.

And I disagree with you that your tribe would have tossed you to the lions after only a day or two. I imagine that even hunter-gatherers, while remaining mobile, didn't necessarily move to completely new ground every day. After a week or so? Yeah, maybe you'd be tiger chow. ;-)



on January 22, 2013
at 09:34 PM

Your body has a huge potential to survive. It has a wonderful self-healing mechanism built in.

Even if you were sick and injured during Paleolithic times, you would still be an asset to your tribe. Just keep going.

My mom had two different cancers plus tons of other health problems. I am sure being in a stressful situation 24/7 was how she acquired her health problems. She is old and very weak. But she outlived many stronger younger men. How did she do it?

She has a strong fighting spirit. She actually is the core of our extended family. Without her everything will come apart.

Right now, being almost 70, she is writing a book and .... learning how to swim for the first time in her life.

Even Neanderthals cared for their injured and respected their elders. Plus, hunting for all those animals all that time gets boring after a while. Enjoy your break and heal yourself!!!



on January 22, 2013
at 09:01 PM

You'd be dead. Unless you'd managed to impregnate a cave-lady before then, your sickly, injury prone, genes would have been deleted from the gene pool.

Sucks don't it?



on January 23, 2013
at 02:25 AM

Dead...... If you lived during Paleolithic Times you wouldn't be alive now......



on January 22, 2013
at 08:59 PM

I think the conditions and variables contributing to sickness/injury were vastly different back then. They did not have the innumerable viruses and germs we have now, thanks to "civilization". By exposing themselves to natural germs etc. by living outside and travelling, members of a tribe naturally built up immunities. When someone got sick, herbs were probably used and hot springs. Some Native American tribes would sit in a sweat lodge, dive into the snow then back into the sweat lodge; very detoxifying!

Also, were not tribes like families? Of course they would lug you around until you got better! Unless the injury was obviously fatal, you will probably be helpful in some way. Or, just learn to use your "good arm" to hunt/fish etc.



on January 23, 2013
at 06:29 PM

It depends on the values of your tribe. Some elite military units won't leave a member behind no matter what the cost. In some societies, it is common to send widowed grandmothers off to fend for themselves in separate old-folks communities, never to be seen again. For those in between, it probably depends on your worth to the tribe when healthy, and how much compensating for your injury affects the survival of the group.

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