Monday, December 15, 2008

December Shivers

Winter has arrived in Minnesota. The high temperature today, December 15, 2008, was negative something. Negative. Less than zero. Not even none. To make sure we got the point of the hopelessness we face for the next three months or so, the wind was gusting, creating a wind chill that felt like even less than zero, none, negative degrees.

I don’t know about you, but I NEED degrees. The older I get, the worse winter seems. I long ago observed that Venus is too hot for human habitation. Mars is too cold. Minnesota is right on the border, barely warm enough this time of year to sustain life.

Let’s not stop there. Let’s add guilt. For the last four weeks or so, I’ve been battling the worst case (in terms of uninterrupted duration) of sciatica I’ve ever had the displeasure to experience. For three weeks, I needed a cane to help me get around. I’ve been doing without the third leg for the past week, but the pain is constant, albeit subdued. As you may know from my Prairie Pondering profile, I live on a farm. With horses. Horses who suffer silently in the cold in exchange for being fed and watered regularly and, with respect to six of the 13 who call Meadow Breeze Farm their home, being let in and out of the barn on a daily basis.

Where’s the guilt? Because of my sciatica, I haven’t been able to help my wife with barn chores for four weeks. The last four weeks. The last freezing cold four weeks. Every morning and most every evening, she bundles up and becomes the guardian angel of equine dependents. She spends almost an hour in the morning, starting at 6 a.m., and half that in the evenings, tossing hay, filling heated water buckets, cleaning stalls, pouring grain, adjusting blankets just to care for the horses.

The farm is Deb’s dream come true. However, I have a hard time watching her work so hard in this weather as I sit incapacitated, shivering from just the thought of those missing degrees. The guilt is so encompassing that I am at the point where I’ve decided to pursue alternative medicine to get rid of the pain. I have managed to avoid chiropractors for the nearly 40 years since I hurt my working during a summer job while in college. I have dismissed the suggestion of acupuncture as a solution inconsistent with my aversion to needles. Similarly, one need only mention cortisone shots to me to abruptly end a conversation.

But enough is enough. My darling, thoughtful wife bought me a head-to-toe coverall and some Willie Sutton headwear last year with which to survive life on the prairie during the Minnesota winters. If I tough it up and visit one of the “intrusive pain” specialists friends admiring my cane suggested, I should be able to get back outside, carrying my own supply of 98.6 degrees, and shovel horse manure like the pro I aspire to be.

For those of you reading this in Arizona who refer to me as “Son” or “Dad”, I’m glad some of us made it out.


Kari said...

Sorry you're not feeling well. Be careful. Stay warm!

FYI--I do electronic acupuncture. NO NEEDLES!

Anonymous said...

try msm...


Mary said...

Dear Sam,

You inspire me even when you do not feel well. As a major friend to two of the horses who brave the Minnesota winds and thrive under the care of the Sterns, thank you. I love coming to your blog, because it reminds me in such a calming way that intelligence, compassion and humor reign here. Thanks for all you do for me.

And based on the results for the two aforementioned horses, who squirmed only a tad before they fell asleep during acupuncture treatments, maybe acupuncture for you too?????? Mary