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The Last Windrow: A pain in the rear

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As I limped to the computer to write my column this week, I wondered what could have led me to this pain? It didn’t take me long to figure it out.

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My parents gave me many great biological attributes. Little disease, a somewhat healthy brain, strong muscles, a relatively hospital-free life and usually a good outlook on the world around me. I appreciate those traits even though I really had nothing to do with creating them. 

I did seem to inherit one thing from my dad that has put me on the floor over the past month or so and made it difficult to continue my normal pace. It’s called an irritated sciatic nerve. Those of you who have had this malady know of what I speak. 

Dad suffered from this pain in the rear as a result of his endeavoring to push a full-grown sow up a loading chute into the waiting livestock truck. It was about this time of year when a covering of ice coated just about everything in the farm yard. For some reason, the pig made it halfway up the chute when it decided it didn’t want to be made into a side of bacon and balked. 

Anyone remotely knowing anything about loading pigs knows that once you let them come back out of the chute, they don’t want to go in again, ever.

Dad proceeded to put his full weight against the pig’s backside, pushing her into the truck when his overshoes slipped on the ice in the chute and he heard something “pop” in his lower back. The pig went in and dad’s sciatic nerve went out. He suffered from a sciatic nerve disorder from then on. 

My sciatic nerve was pinched the day my snowmobile ran off a deep woods trail, into the brush with snow up to my waist surrounding the machine. Being alone and a long way from home and in relatively good health, I proceeded to push and pull and grunt until I had the sled back on the trail. I felt a strange tingling in my lower back as I bounced my way home. It was the start of my own personal battle with this pain in the rear. 

The farm boys I grew up with prided themselves on their strength. We challenged each other to feats of strength by tossing 80-pound hay bales six tiers high on a flatrack. We carried two cans full of milk to the cooler, one in each hand. We carried two 50-pound feed bags to the livestock when we could easily have made two trips with one bag at a time. 

My grandfather warned me once that I could be heading for back trouble if I continued these practices, but to no avail. It was fun to show off. 

As I lay on that ice bag, flat on the floor at home a couple of weeks ago, I thought of those days long ago when I would pull a fence post out of the earth without even thinking about it. A time when I would carry a repaired car tire to my vehicle instead of rolling it. I remembered loading the wheelbarrow to overflowing with heavy oak wood chunks that put a bend in the wheelbarrow’s wooden handles and pushing the load into our basement.

Those are days I will fondly remember.

My back has healed somewhat since that time a couple of weeks ago. I can now stand in one place for more than five minutes without crimping up. My wife says my sense of humor has gotten better. My daughter says I sound better on the phone, so maybe I’m improving. My coffee slurping friends say I’m walking with less of a limp. I guess I have shown improvement.

I just know that I won’t be tossing hay bales six high anymore. Maybe that is a good thing like my grandfather told me it was. He lived to be a ripe old age and never had back trouble. 

Too late a lesson learned. But, it really was fun while it lasted!

See you next time. Okay?

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