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Mud Jump

Am I too old to jump with reckless disregard?


And then there were two.

On the same day I posted about MuckfestMS 2014 and The Three Mudketeers, I was humbled; stabbed in the back by my 59-year-old spinal cord that pretends to be half its age.

Something had seized it that Saturday, and by Monday, it, and my left leg were pierced with pain that brought me to my knees for twelve days.

Twelve days. Twelve days of crippling pain. I couldn’t sit, stand, or lie down. Twelve days of crawling, rolling, crying, and begging for mercy.

It was on Tuesday, day two, that I called 911 at 4 p.m. to take me to the hospital. I hadn’t slept in two days, and wouldn’t have been able to move from the floor without a gurney.

After an emergency room diagnoses of severe sciatica as a result of trauma, that would probably linger for another four to six weeks, and a shot of Dilaudid (apparently one step below morphine), and ten painkiller pills that were gone in two days, I was still debilitated and miserable for another week and a half. No more 5K obstacle-course runs in the mud for me. I’m too old to be a Mudketeer.

And that revelation carried its own pain, once I was upright and working my way back slowly. I was plagued by the possibility that this may be a defining moment for me. A “grow-up-Lois-you-are-not-invincible” wake-up call. Take to the sidelines, already!

I’m pretty much parked in adolescence – at least in attitude. And I have been successful at warding off the aches and pains and injuries and ailments that plague middle-agers. I’ve been really fortunate when it comes to health – and downright cavalier about how any recovery from injury or illness will always be swift and complete.

I have a strong mind-body connection that has always served me well. I’m never sick or injured to the point of defeat. I can talk myself through pain. (I gave birth without drugs – twice.)

But this bout is different. I’m afraid. Afraid that this pain that was so potent, and so prolonged, might come back if I make a wrong move. I continue to be guarded. Am I on the precipice of fatalism; resigned to a smaller world? Weakened? Old?

Will I have to give up the big waves in the ocean? The pounding core cardio workout? Twisting, jumping, dancing in the dark, trampolines, water parks, sliding down things, running up the stairs, rolling on the floor? Heels? Can I remain carefree? Can Pollyanna live with Prudence?

Perhaps I’ve confused fear with levelheadedness. The gift of aging. Because us 50-plussers have numbered days, fear can serve to gather perspective – quickly. And from physical pain can spring intellectual renewal. A re-routing. A savvier path. It feels so good to be back on my feet again – I’m almost grateful for the experience.

So I’ve reminded myself of, and will tuck away, what I used to say to my kids when they were young and fearless, growing into adolescence, and were wont to listen to the wisdom of the older:

“Live in the moment.”
“Have fun.”
“Be wise.”
“Be happy.”
“Protect yourself.”
“Be kind.”
“Take chances.”
“Stay out of the mud!”