Getting A Bang Out Of Life

I should be a better waterer.  I moved into this condo in Belmont two-and-a-half years ago.  My neighbours and I each have a separate building.  The back of mine faces a farmer’s field.  Shortly after I moved in, my builder had a locust tree planted in my mini-backyard.   It was already ten feet high when it hit the earth.

I didn’t water my leafy friend.

Now, as the leaves are emerging, there are several skinny and very dead branches.  Time to do better, Bruce.  I took a photo and rambled over to my local garden centre, where Jim knows about all things plant.  “Lop off the dead stuff, create an earthen bowl around the trunk, and give it a good watering once a week.  It’ll be fine.”  Ahh … the joy of friendly expertise.

I bought some topsoil and headed over to the rental place, which had just what I needed – a tree pruner.  Long wooden handle for one hand, a rope to pull the blade shut for the other.  Piece of cake.  This was yesterday afternoon at 2:45.  They closed at 3:00.  See?  The Gods were with me.

I was too busy doing nothing at home to get the project underway yesterday, but today was my rendezvous with destiny.  I was out there in my home maintenance clothes, ready to get covered with soil, and all set to show off my tree pruning skills.  The first dead branches were about six feet above the grass.  Insert blade opening around the offending bare one, pull the rope gently, and watch the twig fall gently to the ground.  Oh, what a good boy am I!

Hmm.  That one’s higher and a lot thicker.  I was at a bit of an awkward angle, maneuvering around the live branches.  Pull with right hand, left one on the handle > Nothing.  Pull harder > Pretty much nothing.  Okay, this isn’t working.  “Why don’t you just grab the rope with both hands and really reef ‘er?” > “Okay, I’ll do that.”

[And now for a pause that refreshes: You handy men and women in the crowd may possibly be gasping right now.  How could this homeowner be so … stupid?  Doesn’t he see the probable consequences of his proposed action?  Was he born in a cave, somehow managing to stay there until this moment?]

I pulled like the hero I no doubt am.

Schmuck!  The handle smashes into bone just above my left eye.  Falling.  Soft grass.  Warm flowing.  Heading to lights out … but no.  I stumble up, lurch to the garage and grab the paper towels.  Glasses in one hand.  Masses of white grope from the other to my face.  Red trickle down the lens, pretty against the amber and purple of my frames.

Brain exploding.  The neighbour’s doorbell.  Maddy’s hand on my shoulder.  “Come in.  Sit down.”  She gently removes the roll of paper towel from my elbow.  I keep pressing.  “Lean back against the wall.  Breathe slowly.”  Fading in and out.  Gary appears with a bag of ice.  Later, two big bandaids.  Thank you, my friends.

Twenty minutes later, I’m lying on my bed.  Far from sleep.  Exhausted.  “Go to the hospital.  You may have a concussion.  You’re okay to drive.”

Was I?  I knew I didn’t want to bother Maddy and Gary.  Who knows how long I’d be in Emergency?  “I can do this.”  And I did.  The twenty-five minute drive was almost uneventful.  I was slow and steady.  A wee bit of blood dripped from under the bandage.  I wiped it away.  No big deal.

The wait seemed long but it wasn’t.  My ice bag was now a cold water bag.  The staff were so friendly.  The doc had been around the block a few times.  No concussion.  A few sutures needed.  I gulped at that news, my wimpy relationship to pain coming to the surface.  Injecting the freezing agent hurt some but the four stitches were … seamless.

***

It’s hours later.  There’s a little smile on my face, just as there was during some hospital moments.  Some pain in my noggin.  What a silly guy, but essentially lovable.  It was another rich life experience.  I’m sure there’ll be many more.

Ouch

I went to see the fireworks last night at the soccer fields in Belmont.  I saw lots of people I know and love.  As I was moving over the uneven grass with my chair, on the way to the best spot, a sharp pain in my right knee said hello.  After sitting a bit, I went for a hobbling walk with two wonderful kids.  It was fun to talk to them.  But then it was time to sit down and await the light show.

The sky was full with bursts of colour.  I especially liked several explosions that looked like the multiple blossoms of a rhododendron.  So cool.

Alas, all good things come to an end.  As I got up to leave, the knee shrieked.  In the dark it was hard to see the subtleties of grass contour and I paid for my missteps.  For awhile I held on to the top of a low fence as I muddled along.  Not good.

The strangest thing was that I smiled through it all.  Despite the pain, I felt peaceful.  Somehow I knew that all would be well.  I crawled into bed and strategically arranged my legs for comfort, trusting that life would continue working.

Early this morning, there was trouble in River City.  Rolling over sent shoots of yuckiness through the bod.  “All right, that’s enough.  Go to Urgent Care in London.”  I’m getting better at obeying those commands.

Walking in the bedroom was in slow motion.  I tried to keep my right leg straight and pretty much dragged it along.  Still I was fine in the head.  Remarkable.  I then took the most careful shower of my life.  Images flooded back of the ruptured tendon I had in 2003.  That produced a tendon transfer surgery and 17 weeks on crutches.  Then those pictures floated away.  I remained calm.

Once I was shoehorned into Scarlet, driving was fine.  I parked in the garage at St. Joseph’s Health Care and began a tedious shuffle towards the door of Urgent Care.  How humbling to be so slow, to make sure there were no cars for 100 metres before crossing the street.  I felt very old … so why was I happy?  I don’t understand me.

As I reached the receptionist, words unfolded in my head: “Be good to them, Bruce.”  Well, of course.  That’s why I’m on the planet.  And I followed through with that intent.  I made the triage nurse laugh and she made me comfy in a wheelchair.  I also shared chuckles with the X-ray technician.  Plus the doctor (“Call me Danielle”) and I reflected on the mysteries of the body while she expounded on the meniscus, a collateral lateral ligament strain, Tylenol, Advil and ice.  She told me that I wouldn’t damage the knee any more by walking on it, so I said no to crutches.  “It was a pleasure to meet you,” she smiled, as we said goodbye.  And the same from me.  Thanks for helping me, doc.

I’m happy.  I’m icing.  I’m medicating.  And I’m going to the visitation tonight for a dear friend and neighbour.  Bill deserves my presence, even a limpy version.

Fallen

 

What’s with all these injury posts?  Maybe I’m just seeking attention.

My friend Adele and I went out to dinner tonight at Boston Pizza on one of those cozy and rainy evenings.  I’m marginally addicted to their cheesesteak nachos.  Adele is in a wheelchair and after we maneuvered ourselves to a booth I looked for a staff member to tell me where to park our vehicle.  Katie saw my situation and took me to a spot just inside the front door.  Using my best parallel parking skills, the deed was done.

I was heading back to our booth just as a couple was leaving.  I twisted my wet shoe to avoid them … and down I went.  I cushioned the fall with my right arm but my head found its way to the floor.  I stayed in a slump for a bit, taking in my confusing surroundings.  I looked up to see a whole bunch of people standing sideways.  Well, perhaps I was the sideways guy.  “Stay down, ” someone said.  “Should we call 911?”  “No,” I said.  In my best John Wayne rendition, I told everyone that I was okay.

In a fit of inspiration, I asked the gathering “Was I graceful?”  I don’t know what they said in reply.  I sat up.  My knee hurt.  My head hurt a bit.  But I was fine, I assured myself.  I got up and returned to Adele.

Do I share my story with her?  Of course.  She was super concerned.

A bit later, Katie came by.  “How are you feeling?  I know first aid.”  Such a sweet person.  Then she brought me chamomile tea for my headache.  Thank you, Katie.

A couple of hours later, I have a wee touch of head pain but you’ll be happy to know that the combination for my new padlock is 36-38-32.  (See yesterday’s post for an explanation of this apparently strange comment.)

The human body is a resilient little piece of protoplasm.  I will live to fall another day.

 

Shoulder

Such a simple little body part until it becomes complex.

I’ve sure enjoyed strength training over the last few months.  Globally I feel stronger and my biceps, triceps, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, chest, back and glutes are all thanking me.  Up till a few days ago, my left shoulder was singing my praises as well but then something went wonky.

There’s one exercise called the lateral raise where I pull 5-pound weights up to the sides, so that my arms are level.  I think that’s what did me in (momentarily).  Last week I could do less weight on that one than previously, which I suppose should have been a red flag.  I guess moderation and caution are not my middle names.

It hurts when I’ve tried to lift my left arm to shoulder level.  I can only imagine what I’d feel if I had a dumbbell hanging off the end of it.  So no lateral raise, thank you.  I thought of the chest press machine and figured that was worth a go.  My hands were on the handles ready to push forward at a far lower weight than before.  I brought my energy to fierceness.  Ten seconds to go .  “Explode, Bruce!”  I pushed … and nothing happened.  The handles didn’t budge.  My mouth dropped open.  For a few seconds, the horror of it all washed over me but then I watched that fade towards peace.  A minute later, I was smiling.  What an elusive creature this human body is.  A motion that I never think twice about suddenly becomes impossible.  It’s humbling.

I also can’t swing a golf club, and that’s something I so much want to do.  It’s strange how last week I dreaded hitting a shank, where the shaft of the club hits the ball, sending the little white guy veering way off to the right.  Now I’d love to shank the ball or do anything else to it but the clubs are staying in my golf bag for awhile.

I changed course yesterday, mostly doing leg exercises at the gym, and walking several holes at Tarandowah.  I put myself in those places and did what I could.  No way is that joint at the top of my arm going to dictate my well-being.  That’s my job.