A Painful Transition

In recent years, I have skied more than my share and this season was no exception. I believe that at last count, I have been 100 days on my skis; this, by my own admission, is an awful lot and I would need to travel back to my twenties to exceed that impressive attendance on snow. Over the past five years, besides skiing a lot, I’ve also experienced my share of mishaps; none of them too bad, but between some broken ribs and a snapped Achilles’s heel, I can’t say that my past seasons were totally pain-free. So once again, this ski season ended up absolutely flawlessly, without one single injury to report. I had dodged the proverbial bullet. As I put away my ski gear, my next move was to take our mountain bikes to the local shop for a full tune-up in time for another riding season. I was already picturing myself coasting amidst a sea of sagebrush and clearing hairpin turns almost flawlessly.

This was without counting on some real labor that was waiting for me between the skiing and the mountain biking seasons. I had been extremely ambitious and had set to repaint a deck composed of an endless metal railing wrapped around a large wooden floor. I’m not as good a painter as I’m a skier and even though I consider myself a medium-level mountain biker, I tend to ride the single track much better than I can pilot a paintbrush around intricate wrought iron patterns. This means that it takes me a lot of time to do an okay job, not even including all the contorting, bending and laying on my back that come with reaching these almost invisible and unattainable spots. After two days of doing that, my body began to revolt, my legs ached and I was visibly limping as if I had aged an extra 20 years! I was in fact so tired, that I took two days of pure rest. A wise move that very unfortunately, happened to be “too little, too late.”

The next morning, while standing up from my office chair, I must have snapped something and my lower back was elevated to a dire state of lumbago or acute back pain, as doctors like to call this ailment. I instantly visualized my ski career coming to a screeching stop and my anticipated mountain bike exploits vaporizing on the spot. I made an appointment with a physiatrist who listened to my story with extreme empathy, asked me lots of questions, ran me through a series of physical tests and reassured me that there would be more ski and mountain bike days in my future.

The morale of that story is that there are many activities more dangerous than skiing or mountain biking, but what I appreciated the most was that my doctor didn’t ask me if I wore a helmet at the time of the incident!

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