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My ceiling has a crack in it.

I noticed it because I put the snowblower away.

It’s funny how small decisions have significant consequences.

Seriously. If you’re deciding who to marry, which career path to follow, or any number of other momentous decisions, you’re apt to put some serious thought into them and rightfully so. It’s been my experience that the decisions you don’t think you need to debate often have the biggest consequences.

Last week, I decided it was time to put the snowblower away. We’re not going anywhere until May anyway, so I penciled in taking the snowblower off the Bobcat and putting the regular bucket back on.

I drove into the building where all the various attachments are stored and noticed a trailer in the way. I probably could have worked around it, but decided putting a dent in it would’ve been a bad way to start the day, so I hopped out to move it.

The trailer is heavy, but not heavy, if you know what I mean. I’ve moved it by hand many times, but this time I felt a little twinge in my back. Over the next few hours, the twinge turned into…a thing.

That night, I had a meeting - a Planning and Zoning decision. I put my phone on speaker and spent most of the meeting lying flat on the floor next to my desk. And that was the highpoint of the night.

The pain kept getting worse, and my wife and I diagnosed it as a pinched sciatic nerve.

Backs are funny. They stand up to so much abuse and all of a sudden, the smallest “thing” can throw everything out of whack. I vividly remember watching a guy I worked with reach into a farrowing crate to grab a baby pig, something he’d done thousands of times before. He turned just the wrong way and it ended up putting him out of work for months and bothering him the rest of his life. I once read that we suffer from back problems because we’re not designed to walk upright – we should still be on all fours. I don’t know if that’s true, but some days I think many things went south once we lurched upright and stopped living on fruit and roots.

I took a hot bath to relax the offending muscles before I went to bed. It didn’t work. I could barely get out of the bathtub and decided I better get dressed. If the pain had gotten much worse, I wouldn’t have been able to walk and my wife, while a wonderful woman in every regard, wouldn’t be considered burly by anyone. I knew she wouldn’t be able to get me up the stairs and into the car, which meant we’d have to call an ambulance. One of the pitfalls of living in a small place is that you know everyone. I ran down the list of the most likely people to be on the ambulance crew and decided none of them would want to see me naked, so I struggled into some clothes, just in case.

I was a little surprised by how much it hurt. I’ve occasionally led an active life – gallstones, gunshot wound, broken bones, knee surgery – and if this wasn’t the most painful thing to happen to me, it certainly was a contender.

The Harvard Medical School web site advised me to lie down for three days and then slowly start getting back to my regular life. The first day was unpleasant, the second day was better and the third day was boring. Today, almost everything works so I’m feeling optimistic. The advice I’m getting from the internet is that I shouldn’t stand, sit, walk, or lay down too much. Maybe I will get back on all fours.

But I am going to have to do something about that crack.

Copyright 2020 Brent Olson

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