Friday evening, I was doing a quick mowing job on the back yard — mostly to even up the balance between the weeds, which are growing nicely, and the grass, which isn't — and at some point I stepped in some direction I shouldn't have and twisted one of the three or four billion complicated components of my right foot. Pain was instantaneous and sharp, and I abandoned my mowing, limped back into the house, and stared in disbelief at the offending appendage.

A couple of hours and an ice pack later, I was still seriously hobbled, to the extent that going to the toilet had become something to be avoided if at all possible, and I started wondering if I'd broken something, if I was going to require medical attention (and if so, how I was going to pay for it), and, perhaps most seriously, whether I should start expecting things like this as a matter of course.

I am, after all, in my fifties, and while I'm hardly ready for a nursing home, I'm not by any means indestructible. On the other hand, I've been mowing lawns since I was ten, an age where one can't easily imagine a lifespan that isn't just this side of infinite; to some extent, that ten-year-old makes his presence known on my side of the handle, and he tends to be heedless about potential hazards, preferring to press ahead and get it done already.

The next morning, I still was limping a bit, though not as badly, and I didn't notice any particular swelling, which was presumably good. Temporary break in routine: nothing serious. And it's going to rain for two or three days, so I'll have to blow off the rest of the mowing anyway.

Still, the thought lingers: What happens if I actually break something next time? Do I have to crawl across the yard and that little stretch of concrete that passes for a patio, drag myself up to some semblance of verticality, and hope I have enough strength left to call 911? (Yes, I suppose I could park a cell phone outside somewhere, but there's still the question of getting to it, since if I actually carried it around with me, there's quite a good chance that it would be run over with the mower's last gasp when I lurch sideways and drop the deadman handle.) Is it worth the risk? A day in the hospital, after all, costs as much as a season and a half of professional lawn care.

For now, I'm taking (1) no unusual action and (2) rather a lot of Tylenol. We shall see.

The Vent

#436
7 May 2005

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