February 27, 2003

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

We had been in Belfast for a week, visiting our son who, in his continuing quest to find creative ways to add gray hair to parental coifs, had undertaken a six month exchange program in this rather unsettled part of the world. We'd had a wonderful visit, even though I had been intermittently plagued by some leg pain I'd inflicted on myself a couple of weeks before our trip. Being a therapist and knowing the things I had done that I shouldn't have done, I was pretty certain of the mechanism of injury, and had only myself to blame. Here's the deal:

When our neighbors with the backhoe had finished clearing spindly pine trees from the flat five or six acres that is now our pasture, they 'raked it' by pulling a huge pine log across it to level it and smooth it so that we could put in pasture grass seed. When planting time came, the neighbor who came to put out the grass seed suggested the huge pine log would make a good 'bridge' across our little side creek. He pulled it into place with his tractor. Over the next week, I proceeded to take off the round upper surface of this 20 foot log to level it off and make it easy to walk on. What I needed for this task was an old log-working tool called an adze. With this tool, I could have used good body mechanics, chopping straight in front of my body. Instead, I used an axe, and swung forcefully sideways, off and on, for hours. Got the job done, though, and shortly thereafter, we left the country for Ireland. And all was well, more or less until...

In the cab from the hotel to Belfast International, my hip and leg went into severe spasm. By the time we got to the airport, I could not bear to sit but could barely stand, much less carry heavy suitcases. Once in the terminal, I got shocky, managed to limp over toward a wall, and woke up clammy having briefly passed out, now crumpled in a heap on the floor. To make a miserably long story short, I writhed in the worst pain I've ever experienced for almost twenty hours until we got to Floyd and a physician friend gave me an injection that knocked me out. Subsequent X-rays were negative, and my diagnosis for my condition is piriformis muscle inflammation and spasm leading to sciatic nerve damage (a year and a half later, I still have numbness and calf weakness).

I only relate this story for the fact that, this past week as we were able to get out again and survey the effects of the recent flooding, we discovered that our pine-log footbridge had been swept away. You can imagine I saw it as more than merely a log washed downstream. This spring, when it dries out and it's time to lime and fertilize the pasture, I'll ask the neighbor to use his tractor to pull it back in place (this time, on higher ground). He has the right tool for the job, and I think I'll just stand by and supervise.

Posted by fred1st at February 27, 2003 07:20 AM | TrackBack

I think that "adze," by the way, is a fabulous word. This is only the second time I've ever run across it. The first time was in a poem by a poet named Chris Forhan . . . in the title, in fact, where he names a list of great-sounding tools, and "adze" is one of them.

Posted by: Artichoke Heart at February 28, 2003 12:09 AM

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