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HOME RANGE: Notes on Literature, Nature, Working Dogs, History, Martial Arts, Other Obsessions and Sundry Annoyances by Henry Chappell

Time, Gravity, Entropy

A little forced inactivity reminds me of what looms in the not-too-distant future, and of the preciousness of time.

Back in April, I noticed that when I tilted my head back, mild pain flared up in my left shoulder. Meh. Old age and all that. Nothing a few Advil and healthy hardheadedness wouldn’t cure. My grandson Cade and I took up Krav Maga and fished a couple times every week, all summer. My shoulder ached, but after a little warm-up, I felt fine and could pump through 40 pushups, and a bunch of burpees, and throw punches and elbows with little or no discomfort.

Okay, the problem worsened, a little, but, see, my first belt test was scheduled for September 23. I’d deal with the issue afterward. The test, a grueling three-hour ordeal is designed not only to find out if you’ve acquired the requisite skills, but also to test your resolve. How much do you want to move to the next level? (You know it’s going to be rough when there are designated puke locations.) I got through the test fine - the oldest geezer in the group - although I hadn’t known that kind of fatigue and pain since my college football days.

The strain didn’t help my shoulder problem. Now, I had intermittent tingling down my arm, and a hell of a lot more pain. I took a couple weeks off, then showed up for my first Level II workout. After an easy jog around the facility, we came in and plopped down for push-ups. I nearly fell on my face. My left arm had no strength and now ached from the mild exertion.

Turns out, I don’t have a shoulder problem, I have a neck problem. Stenosis caused by a “significant” bulge between C6 and C7 pinching the nerve that serves my left arm. The problem would likely go away in a year or so, but I’d lose a lot of arm strength in the meantime. Never mind the everyday pain and interference with hunting, fishing, and fighting. Oral steroids helped slightly but only temporarily. Now I’m scheduled for a cortisone injection on November 8. If that doesn’t work, there will be a second injection, then, as a last resort, surgery, which will fix the problem for sure, but I’ll be pretty restricted for three months or so.

Hunting season has arrived, but it hurts to look up. This might not be a problem if I were a deer hunter sitting in a stand instead of a squirrel and bird hunter. Fishing is great in North Texas in early fall, so I’ll be pumping up the old float tube (one-handed), feeling grateful that my casting arm works just fine. And I’ll kick the heavy bag, do my squats and crunches, and try to remember not to take good health and the gift of a day for granted. I have friends who’re facing challenges that make this one seem like nothing but a minuscule aggravation. If nothing else, this little setback serves as a reminder of what looms out there in the not-too-distant future. Time is precious. I regret every second I’ve wasted even though I’ll surely waste more.

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