It ain’t the years, it’s the miles.

My left leg gets bragging rights as the “bad” one because it’s right off at the calf. That makes the right leg the “good” one in spite of several knee surgeries that took years to heal even in my immortal twenties. Then there’s that left wrist, about which the less said the better except it’s still there and still works, which is better than one doctor predicted.

That might be what had me up at an hour where I’m usually snoring. Sure, the forecast called for rain but when is it ever right? Got out of the sack, strapped on my leg and went down the ladder to appease the boys, who saw no reason I shouldn’t tend their (urgent! right now!) sudden unanimous need to go outside. The older I get, the less I like wet weather.

A look at the thermometer, and sonuvagun it’s mid-forties out there! I stepped out into a just-beginning drizzle, which reminded me I’d left washing on the line. No, I hadn’t believed the forecast but there was time to salvage the sitch. I stuck my little pocket flash in my mouth and headed out to the clothesline between the junipers.

By the time I had the laundry in hand LB was clamoring to come inside. I called Ghost back from where he was giving the perimeter its first morning bark, went up the stairs, dumped the laundry on the desk and turned to find LB had (of course) snagged his cable on the porch and needed rescue.

Usually if I’m going to take a header on the stairs, it’s LB’s fault somehow but in this case he was nowhere near me. I just tangled up my feet or something. The flashlight went spinning off thataway: the ground was down there somewhere but I was sure we’d meet. This is why I’m careful where I leave rakes and nail-studded boards laying around, even though in other ways I’m not the neatest guy you ever met.

I’m an amputee: I probably fall down more often than you. It’s no big deal, but I try not to do it from the top of a flight of stairs. So I’m (oh, this is all too familiar) laying on the ground with dogs milling about (“That was funny, Uncle Joel! Do it again!”) being very still and waiting for the pain to fade enough for a damage assessment. Road rash on left palm: Check. Head’s fine. Nothing new to report from the torso. Nauseating pain from inside of right knee: That’s probably nothing too. There’s a sweet spot right there that has plagued me since I got blowed up in ’72. Whack it just right with the prosthetic, which is probably what happened, and I’m gonna be prone for a couple of minutes but not really hurt. Difficult to explain to onlookers, though. Like that time I slipped on wet concrete at the Michigan Truck Plant, slammed onto my back, and my left leg got six inches longer and bendy in an entirely wrong place and direction: I’ll bet that spectacle was in dinner conversations for a while. Glad I can help.

But these days my pratfalls are normally more private and this time I was alone in the dark, just me and two entirely unhelpful dogs.

Finally rolled onto my back (rain’s really starting now: Thanks, Murphy) groped around for my flashlight and – since I was already down here – untangled LB’s cable from the planks of the porch.

I’m not really very old. I’ll see the big six-oh in two months, and that’s not really old. But all those miles – Sometimes I feel old, and getting old sucks.

Beats hell out of the alternative, though.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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10 Responses to It ain’t the years, it’s the miles.

  1. MamaLiberty says:

    Reminds me of the story of an old cowboy. Grizzled, twisted back, shambling bow legged gait, snaggle toothed, nose obviously broken many times, etc. Walks into a bar and the bartender wants to see some ID (they’re proud to “card” everyone)… And he’s blown away because the cowboy is almost 80.

    So he asks him about it. The cowboy told him, ‘If I’d a knowed I was gonna live this long, I’d a took better ker of myself.”

    I’m almost 70… and I know just how he feels. :) It is especially not fun falling down stairs, and mine are even carpeted! Took me a year to get over the last time. sigh

    Hang in there. You’ve got a way to go yet.

  2. LJH says:

    Gettin’ old ain’t fer sissies.

  3. Spud says:

    Yup, quite often when I’m on the ground and am just starting to get up…someone there will offer a hand. (usually) Politely I’ll tell them no thank you…from their perspective, they cannot understand the speed at which I must rise…They’d have me standing in a blink ! My body requires stuttering steps to arise, in order that it all goes in the same direction.
    I just turned 60 in November last….

  4. MamaLiberty says:

    Indeed, Spud! Unfortunately, when I fall I don’t have any option but to get up the best way I can on my own. I do have the “help” of a Welsh Corgi, and laughing at his antics does help with the pain. :)

  5. coloradohermit says:

    I sure hope you’re feeling better today!

  6. Joel says:

    I’m feeling fine, thanks, CH. Though yesterday I made a dent in that big bottle of ibuprofen somebody sent me, this morning only the wrist is hurting me.

  7. MamaLiberty says:

    Nurse cratchety poking her nose in here…. I do hope you never take that ibuprofen without some substantial food in your stomach first – or at worst, immediately after. That stuff will put holes in your digestive tract. That and aspirin kill a lot of people every year. sigh

  8. Goober says:

    Joel, my wife and I have a running joke about the glee dogs seem to show whenever one hurts himself. My bird dog Dutchess is no exception. The joke is that whenever we hurt ourselves, we say “owie, Dutchess!” because we figure that if we’re hurting at least one member of the family ought to be happy.

    Hope you come out in one piece.

    I never did hear how you came to lose that leg. Is that something that you share?

  9. Joel says:

    I like to stay all mysterious about the leg, Goober, because I’m just barely the right age for it to be something all dramatic and cool. But it’s really very everyday – I was in a bad motorcycle accident and smashed my legs on the handlebars. I’m a lot more put-back-together than taken-apart, but it was the early ‘seventies and there was only so much they could do then.

  10. Expat says:

    A few weeks ago it got above freezing for a day. The first time since November up here in the Great White North. Well……..put down a nice layer of ice on the un-plowed 1/4 mile driveway didn’t it? Then is snowed a few more times. there’s no phone service here and I’m pushing 65 and the closest live person, or dead one as far as I know is a mile away. Three falls later I decided to hunker down till Spring or till the scotch runs out.
    I don’t particularity mind kicking off but it’s the lingering part I don’t like.

To the stake with the heretic!