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Musing: Aches and Pains
I injured myself this morning. By stretching.
Not doing something cool like yoga, pilates, or tai chi. Much more mundane than that.
In the pre-dawn darkness, I stood in the backyard as my trusty canine companions took care of their business. With my handy flashlight, my sole job involved retrieving their output. A simple task that avoided the much more disgusting assignment of cleaning shoes after “discovering” the prize later in the day.
You’re probably assuming that my injury resulted from a collision with a happy—and lighter—canine celebrating success with a mad zoomie around the yard. While such an injury is certainly possible here at Chez Herd, that’s not what happened. The dogs weren’t involved.
They were still in the preproduction mode, sniffing for the prize-winning location. Bored, and not yet properly caffeinated, I yawned. And stretched.
An explosion of pain erupted from deep in my shoulder. I’m not proud to admit this, but I yelped. In the quiet of a suburban morning, it came out unnervingly loud. I don’t think I woke any neighbors, but I certainly jolted my canine companions.
They stopped their search, turned toward me, cocked their heads, and wondered if I was inviting them to take part in a new game. When they realized it was nothing more than me writhing in pain, the rascals returned to their much more important duties. So much for man’s best friend.
Aging is hazardous. I injure myself in creative ways. Just yesterday, I popped my knee. While walking. On a flat surface.
How does anyone injure themselves by walking? I can’t explain, but I found a way. Still felt it this morning as I gingerly picked my way down the steps from the bedroom. The dogs, oblivious to my discomfort, swarmed about my feet in the mad dash to beat me outside.
I have some good news, though. I barely notice the pain in my knee now. The agony of my shoulder has top billing, crowding out such minor aches.
How do such things happen? Shouldn’t the rigorous lifestyle of a writer keep a body in top physical shape? The blur of fingers flying across a keyboard? The frequent trips to the kitchen to replenish electrolytes? The sweat dripping down my brow as I wrestle words onto paper?
Shockingly, my doctor is unimpressed with the exertion level of my profession. That ogre wants more.
So, I walk six miles a day. Admittedly, I’d prefer not to walk when it’s too hot, too cold, slightly windy, or otherwise inconvenient. My furry personal trainers—those same ungrateful hounds who ignored my cries of anguish this morning—insist on the walks. In return, they reward me by napping while I write rather than disassembling the house with their excess energy. Fair exchange. Thanks to that bargain with the little devils, I never miss a day of walking.
The dogs might be satisfied, but not that mean doctor. He demanded more. So I go to the gym four times a week for both aerobic and resistance training. And do a smorgasbord of morning exercises at the house.
Between walks, the gym, home exercises, and the brutal regimen of typing, you’d think I could handle normal daily activities without bodily harm. Nope. My shoulder hurts and I’m limping.
What happened to the youthful body of my prime? The days when I could feast on fatty foods, guzzle beer, and not gain a pound? Back then, I could shake off bumps, bruises, and contusions with only a nonchalant shrug.
I climbed rocks, rappelled down cliffs, and navigated white water. I hiked for miles with a backpack that weighed more than some compact cars, slept a few hours on rocky ground, and got up to hike another day without complaint.
Okay, maybe a few complaints, but let a guy reminisce a little.
Of course, now that I think about it, that twenty-something me might have some answering to do. The first realization came to me about two decades ago.
I completed a stint in physical therapy after a successful back surgery. My neurosurgeon tested my mobility and announced that I was ready to resume normal activities.
He glanced down at my medical history, which included a list of those favorite hobbies. After a moment, he looked back up and said sternly, “And I mean normal activities.”
So, Dear Reader, I’m nursing my aches and pains, reminiscing about the good old days, and realizing that aging isn’t for the faint of heart. But every scar is nothing but a reminder of an epic adventure.
But how do I explain a shoulder injury in the backyard?
Assuming no neighbor peeked out their window to investigate my cries, the dogs were the only witnesses. Maybe I should embellish the tale just a little. How about this?
I limped, nursing the wound from the epic battle of the day before. In the gloom of night, I heard the heavy breathing of wild animals. The shapes of a ravenous wolf pack came into focus as they hunted in the foggy meadow. With my weary eyes on them, I didn’t see the archer rise behind me and take aim. His arrow flew straight and true, slipping between the cracks in my armor and sinking deep into my shoulder.
Yeah, that’s much better.
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