Aches and Pains


We all enjoy good health when we have it, but aches and pains can be productive in their own way.



Many of my friends call me a paragon of health, and compliment me by saying I don’t look my age. Well, I do try to take care of myself, but I do suffer from high blood pressure, allergies and scoliosis. Of these, only allergies cause major quality of life issues. By controlling my diet, I keep the allergies at bay. Yes, in comparison with some of my friends, I am pretty healthy.



Of course, I do have injuries now and then. The most serious recent injury was severe tendonitis in my foot two years ago. I recovered from that and have been training for a half marathon July 8th. By the end of May, I was preparing for one last hard week of training before tapering off for the race.



All of that changed Tuesday, May 28. We were having problems with one of the swamp coolers at the church. For those who do not know, a swamp cooler is a small evaporative cooler. Here in the arid Southwest, they are used as air conditioners with good results. Of course, the swamp coolers are on the roof.



I have had a lot experience with ladders. Only once have I fallen off, and on that occasion I did not fall far. In my experience, my biggest problem is not getting the ladder level and evenly supported. I have learned that I must find a spot of level ground, or put boards under a leg of the ladder. Otherwise the ladder tends to drop to the side. The place where I wanted to put my ladder had a slight slope so I moved over to the top of a small mound of dirt. With one leg on each side of the top of the mound, I felt secure and mounted the ladder. What I did not realize was that the mound of dirt was soft sand.



When I was about six feet off the ground, the base of the ladder slid backward leaving me standing in the air. I did not even have time to realize what was happening, because about half a second later, I felt the a shock on my back and legs as my feet hit the ground.



I lay on top of the ladder assessing my body. Nothing hurt with the severity of a broken bone. I praised God that I was not seriously injured, just a few minor bruises. After catching my breath, I moved the ladder over to some flat, level, firm dirt, climbed the ladder and repaired the swamp cooler. Then I went home for some ibuprofen and a nap. I still had no nerve pain and no broken bone pain, but by supper time, the muscles of my back were very sore. More ibuprofen and a heating pad before bed made me comfortable enough to sleep.



By chance, I already had an appointment with my doctor Wednesday morning. I discussed blood pressure medication with Dr. McDade. Then I told her about having the ladder slip out from under me. She said, “No you didn’t break anything, especially not your spine, or you would have extreme pain.” Then she told me, “You will would feel worse Thursday.” Thanks a lot, Doc.



She checked me out and confirmed that my primary injuries were strained muscles form the impact. She told me to stop taking ibuprofen because the inflammation would actually help healing. She told me to use Tylenol for pain relief. We discussed muscle relaxants, but since I had slept well Tuesday night, she did not give me a prescription. The bad news is that soft tissue damage is slow to heal. I will need six to eight weeks to heal.



I will admit that I was expecting to rest a few days and then be able to run my half marathon AMA (Against Medical Advice). Well, actually she did not say I couldn’t run the race, she just told me to take it easy for a while and try a long walk before I run again. Of course that implied that I should not run the race. In fact, I even considered shifting from the half marathon (13.1 miles) to the 10 K race (6.2 miles.) Then my body took over.



By late Wednesday afternoon, the back pain was a lot worse so I decided to take the doctor’s advice. I stretched, rested and took my Tylenol. I put my laptop in my lap and worked on a novella as I rested. Secretly I was hoping I would recover over the weekend and run the half marathon.



We have all heard the folk proverb that the squeaky wheel get the grease. As the discomfort in my back muscles diminished from very sore to serious ache, I became aware of pain in my legs, especially my left quadriceps. Apparently the sore back muscles were distracting me from the pain of my legs. Now as the quadriceps is starting to feel better, I realize other leg muscles are complaining.



As I write the rough draft, it is Tuesday, a week after my accident. I am feeling better, but standing or walking causes that left quadriceps to tire quickly. When that muscle tires, it aches something terrible. I spend most of my time resting so that muscles will heal. That means I have been doing minimal gardening. Of course, I have done no running or distance walking. I have not even gone to the gym because most lifting involves the back one way or another.



The irony is that I am no longer tempted to rush my recovery. By chance there has been a forest fire in Valle Caldera where the race had been scheduled. The race has been canceled. The way my muscles are recovering, I really should not even be considering racing, but I really miss the chance to run.



The cure for my injuries is rest so I have had plenty of time to pray, to think, and to write. Perhaps we all need to break the busy patterns of our lives. Change does us good, especially when it gives us a chance to ponder those things we need to settle in our lives,



Several times in my life. I have had illness or injury temporarily interrupt my busy life. Of course, I have always looked forward to being healed. Healing would allow me to return to work, sports, gardening, hiking and other activities. Before I have always healed and returned to my activities. My doctor assures me that I will heal from this injury in time, but this time while convalescing, I began to think about the day when something will permanently weaken or disable me. Will I be able to adjust and adapt? Will I be satisfied with less physical activity?



It is sad that a forest is on fire, especially with that forest on the edge of one of New Mexico’s most beautiful preserves. I hope that they can put out the fire before it destroys the area. It must break the hearts of the other runners to have the race canceled. I am also saddened even though I probably would not have finished even the 10 K race. The cancellation of the race showed me that I can survive even without the race.



Perhaps there will be other races, but will I be ready? I am content to let this one slip away from me, and I will be able adapt some day when I find myself unable to be as active as I am. Rather than marathons, I may challenge puzzles or write books. I will adjust.



Being forced to rest has allowed me to get nonphysical things done. I have had a concept for a romantic thriller running through my head since April. My physically active spring life has hindered my progress writing that story. I have my draft finished. Unfortunately it is only 40,000 words long so I guess it will be a novela, but I have a first draft done. The story is on my hard drive so the concept will not be lost.



Bumps in the road of life will give us aches and pains. I wish I had put up that ladder better, but I am benefiting from the enforced idleness that has resulted from my new aches and pains.



About Reynold Conger

Reynold Conger is a retired scientist, engineer and teacher. Now writing fiction. His books are CHASED ACROSS AUSTRALIA, MY KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR and REDUCING MEDICAL COSTS (AT THE COST OF HEALTH). He has also started a series of novelas called THE RICHARD TRACY SERIES. Residence: New Mexico, USA Hobbies: gardening, animals and running. website
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