Monday, June 15, 2015

Strong Armed by an Azalea: A Story of Angry Gardening

It wasn't my idea to take a week off at my busiest time of the year. But I fought an azalea bush and the azalea bush won. Well, technically I won because that bush did get moved from where I didn't want it to where I did.

I just can't move. And it was six days ago.

I didn't feel the pain all at once but in the process of digging and pulling and chopping then dragging I did think I was going to be really sore the next day. My husband came out to find me covered in mud (filling the hole with water to try and find the roots that were still holding on was a painfully bad idea) and told me to leave it and that he'd help me the next day. When he went back inside I continued digging. I finally lost my temper and exerted most of my energy and all of my good sense in one final effort to extract the shrub. While we were waiting for the doctor the other day he called me stubborn. I don't know where he gets that.

I just want things done and to what extent I'm able I want to be the one to do them. So if I want a garden dug up or the chicken run moved or a room painted I generally just get busy digging, moving, painting. By the time I stop, find some guy's number, call him, get an estimate, schedule the work, and hang up the phone, I could have the thing done.

Well, that's always been my thinking.

Which is why now, instead of a beautiful finished front garden I have patches of mud, weed barrier, and gravel with piles of brick. A symbol of defeat.

When the doctor came in with a resident, I warned him "Do not touch me." He promised he wouldn't.

When I went to bed the night after the azalea episode I thought "I'll be sore tomorrow." I was able to drag myself to bed after showering and collapsed into a deep sleep. But, nothing hurt. Imagine my surprise waking up the next morning in staggering pain and unable to move my right arm. Of course it would be the right one. It took me a while to catch on that something serious had happened. Out of habit, I tried feats of strength like picking up my toothbrush only to find that it caused screaming.


Later I tried to get dressed and there were actual tears and sobbing. By the time I got to the doctor two days later I'd been without sleep for 48 hours. I'd attempted to do my makeup with my left hand. I couldn't get a bra on. The doctor assured me he had no intention of trying to touch me. He prescribed muscle relaxers and steroids.

"So I see you're fifty."

I stared blankly at him calculating the time between that moment and when I could get to the pharmacy and pick up the pain meds.

"I'm thinking that the gravelly sound you said you've been noticing for a couple of years might be some osteo arthritis. You are going to have know, maybe slow down a bit."

He was treading carefully.

"My thinking has always been if I keep moving I won't get old. I think it's the slowing down that kills you." I countered.

"There's some truth to that. You absolutely want to keep moving but now you have some wear and tear on your joints and you need to back off. Especially on the repetitive motions like in yard work and cleaning. They'll speed up the process."

My husband gave me "the look." You know the one. The one where they have someone else tell you the thing they've been saying.


"But you'll be able to do all the things you want when you recover. Garden and tend to your bees. I just want you to stop trying to kill yourself by doing everything."

More smirking from my husband. I looked at the female resident who was sitting in on the session for some back up. She smiled and nodded in agreement. Three against one.

But in the end the doctor's advice and my husband's willingness to help didn't make much of a difference. Pain. Pain won the day and made its point. It drew some boundaries and pointed out the excruciating consequences of pressing on long after I should stop.

 It's so bossy.

"Do what's good for you or I'll show you who's boss." I can hear it growling at me with a cigar clenched in its teeth. It is not afraid to strong arm me into compliance.

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