My recent back injury stopped me in my tracks and gave me the chance to ask a lot of questions about my opportunities, endeavors, and blessings.
The Way We See It
Unintentionally, our blessings are often quantified by an evaluation our physical conditions (bodily or environmentally). After all, no matter where we go, there we are. We can stash mental anguish, family struggles, and hormone episodes in the closets our minds where the company can’t see them and we forget they are there. Out of sight, out of mind….really? Physical injuries or displacements may wane but are always considered some of life’s biggest challenges. Because when those things happen to our outside we are certain that “life is over”.
My Historical Accident Report
It is a statistical miracle that I have had such a short list of physical incidents growing up on the farm, since it can be a dangerous place for kids. More likelihood to die = greater satisfaction in success. I started by cracking my forehead open (I didn’t die but my Granny nearly did), which I did a repeat rendition of years later, and a fantastic production of breaking my elbow which required special casting and surgery. There was one teenage motor vehicle accident and one adult incident where another car assaulted my truck. Then I believe I took a sabbatical all the way until childbirth (does that count since it wasn’t an accident?) and the removal of an infected cyst.
All Farm and Games
Physical incidents have become more notable as I have “aged”. My agriculture has caught up with me rolling my ankle (which I never thought would be right again), having a cow step on the opposite foot (this occurred almost exactly one year later. I don’t leave the house on November 6th for safety purposes), and most recently when I squatted down to plant a tomato in a bucket. The interesting sensation that followed had me jumping up to an upright position before the opportunity passed (like seeing the railroad lights come on and feeling that throw up feeling).
Accident Triage-Walk it Off
Particularly in my aging condition my Farmer will often ask, “WHAT were you doing?” Nothing stupid, I hope. A valid point as I have spent too many years probably working harder than appropriate. I hobbled to the house. Walking in a crooked line much like the way my heeler walks so he can see behind him. Or the strange way my horseshoe shaped truck drove across the field after that teenage MVA.
Following the tomato planting event, drama ensued. Did I have a joint injury? The muscle issues I woke up with on Friday morning suggested otherwise. The drama “leveled up” as we flew out of town to Montana for the weekend (an unplanned farming expense that did end up being fun) and drove more than 1,400 miles home. We made excellent time because there wasn’t much use for stopping, as getting in and out of the truck was a personal struggle.
When the Walk Ended
As a farm kid alumni and a landscape professional I have had several years of walking off lesser (maybe they were lesser) injuries. So I was unprepared for the evening we made it home from our road trip and something changed. I could not lay down, get up, stand up, walk to the kitchen, or sit. I have spent these same years trying to learn not to overreact. My breathing rivaled birthing my two tiny farmers as I stood plastered to the door frame in excruciating pain wondering what I was going to do, because how would I even get to a doctor, and how long would I be stuck to this door frame because my Farmer had gone outside. I cried. I don’t cry too often. It wasn’t a big ugly cry or anything. But it was a cry none the less….of fear…which I am not overly familiar with.
Realizing the Real Injury
Am I going to make it? Is this the end of the farm? These worries have waned, and time, visitS to the chiropractor, and a month’s worth of back brace later, things have calmed down. The biggest surprises of this latest adventure have been the mental challenges I have faced. If you have ever worn a brace or other restrictive, body healing device, you can relate to the fact that my body has spent a lot of time just “tired”. Not tired from doing physical labor like I am used to, but just tired from being surrounded by such attentive, constant support. (When is too much of a good thing too much?). My body has felt “sad”. No way to release those happy endorphins since I have had a reduction of bending, stooping, lifting, heaving, carrying, and wrestling that my body knows, seems to love, and apparently craves. Then the “sad” has creeped into my mind where I spent way too much time thinking about ‘should I pick that up? and other mostly useless questions. This should have been a good time to get some helpful planning, organizing, and evaluating done. That is harder to do with sad between your ears. Luckily, no “woe is me”. But definitely worst of all (in my mind at least): if squatting to plant a tomato can cause this kind of result, what else should I not do? A seed of fear trying to take root. Barf. Apparently getting old(er) is definitely a trap.
The outcome of my latest experience and adventure: change. Change can be good and healthful and exciting (even when you are forced to do it). It usually doesn’t come easy, and there is no truer place for that than the farm. Farmers have changed their ways over the decades, but a lot of our minds stay the same (some of that is preservation of the species, some of that is stubbornness). I do think I’ll plant a tomato again. But through this event, God has given me another blessing: a somewhat graceful opportunity to make good changes in my days, projects, endeavors, and long-range view. If by somewhat graceful I mean, clotheslined me with absolutely no elastic and laid me down flat and hard. That’s how he has to do it for me.
In the Bible, I Timothy 4:8 tells us that bodily exercise profits a little but godliness is profitable for all things. This is a good moment to readjust my physical endeavors so that they don’t interrupt the working of my mind for better, greater things that I aspire to do in my (wiser?) years.
The Best Blessings aren’t Physical
So if you’re having, have ever had, or potentially expect to have physical trial, I hope you can use the experience to teach your mind to take a deep breath. Maybe appreciate the rest. Take it for what it cost you…(really, if it was expensive, the Lord would probably like you to do some serious thinking). Plan ahead to not be defined by your physical struggles or conditions, but utilize them to redefine yourself into more of what you can be if you choose to accept the challenge.