I used to have a walking stick, a beautifully varnished blackthorn with a brass ferrule, and I can’t think where it went — I haven’t laid hands on it in years; probably I gave it to someone whose need was greater than mine.
This morning I replaced it. This was not a fashion statement. Regular visitors may have noted that I have been posting a bit sparsely the past few months, and possibly that I seemed a bit loopy. I am always beating myself to shit, but 2012 will probably go down as the year I outdid myself. Actually this probably goes back to late 2011, when I wrangled window installers and danced in broken high heels all within the course of a week; my left leg has not really been right since. It went from being a little hitchy on the best days to a point where getting up at night to go to the bathroom had become a peculiar ritual dance of lurching, crawling, staggering and clinging to walls as the left hip tried to go out from under me, and some mornings I woke to find I had semiconsciously lodged a massage ball (they are always at my bedside) under one thigh in a vain attempt to release what seemed to be the Charley Horse From Hell, a travelling carnival that performed nearly anywhere from the core of my left ass to somewhere above the knee. The few times it let up spontaneously, I wondered what the hell I had done right and marveled at the energy I was not using up just getting through the day.
Oh, yes, still doing squats, cranking out massages, and trying for hill mileage, though for the last month I just had to chuck that up; rolling around on the floor wincing is no way to entertain company.
Dr. Bill, my overly gentlemanly chiropractor, has tried his best. The pain would give up for a while and then come back. Do you know that there are seven rotator muscles, two deep flexors, one superficial flexor and four adductor muscles involved with the hip, five if you count a thing called the pectineus that makes you look as if you are performing an indecent act if you rub it? Oh, let’s not forget the lower abdominal obliques. They were all fighting over control of the joint, and I seemed to be losing. Last week I clobbered it with everything I had — adjustment, an extra massage, squat workout (heating up the muscles re-aligned things, temporarily) — and took it out for my hill loop. Fuck. I hope no one recognized me hobbling sidelong through lower Arlington.
Then the Cute Engineer got gung-ho to get tickets to the annual free Shakespeare downtown and take our young mascot — who is reconsidering college, as you would hope of any teenager who thinks Hamlet is Shakespeare’s best comedy. Wonderful idea, except that in that condition sitting for any length of time turned my ass to stone, and on top of it you have to stand in a line for about an hour if you even hope for a ticket. I couldn’t see myself in that picture; I sucked in a breath, went flat on my back on the bed and said “You big husky man, come grab — my ankle and just pull hard and steady and when I give you the high sign, snap.“
He snapped. Did I mention the lad goes about two-fifty in sock feet? It was like pulling a tree out by the roots.
Breath rushed in, I doubled up, hyperventilating, and yelled “Go get me an ice pack from the freezer!” in between Lamaze gasps. (I would never dare do this to anyone else, but if you have often wondered what the vintners buy, this is the kind of thing.) After an hour of profoound coma, my leg bore my weight without seizing or cramping. Best guess, I have been going around for weeks with my left hip half-dislocated anteriorly — the ball still snug in the socket but yawing around its axis — and Dr. Bill just didn’t have the weight or the nerve to reduce it all the way. I felt like a Coke machine that has been kicked to unstick your quarter — stunned, but functional. Everything was a little tender, so on account there was rain in the forecast anyway, I got my largest umbrella and used that to clip along the sidewalk, get up and down in the theater, and otherwise operate without stopping traffic or encouraging muggers. It worked pretty well, but umbrellas are not really meant for this, so I ditty-bopped by my favorite hardware store after this morning’s workout. For whatever reason, they display a splendid selection of these creatures, and I came away with one that I think is the “Hitchhiker.”
It just made sense; I suspect I’ll be jamming hips, spraining ankles, and screwing up knees until they sell me for spare parts. So far from encouraging muggers by looking lame, I have to think that the average scumbag would prefer to home in on someone who wasn’t carrying a shillelagh like that. I just hope no one expects me to rap on any enchanted gates.