UNCLE ARTHUR VISITS THE FARM
The other morning the alarm went off at 5 a.m. and Lee jumped out of bed and briskly got ready to go out and feed. This is our usual routine to get up at 5 a.m. and do the feeding first before we have breakfast. I rolled out of bed and stood up. Well, at least I tried to stand up. My back refused to straighten itself out. I stood there, bent, studying my feet, thinking "Ouch."
I heard Lee rummaging around downstairs, putting wood in the wood stove, and then heard him bounding back up the stairs and come back into the room where I was imitating an upside down U.
"Whatís wrong?" he asked. "Something wrong with your feet?" He bent over and studied my feet also.
"I canít straighten up my back," I testily answered back.
He is the most understanding and compassionate of the two of us. "How you going to tell who you are feeding bent over like that?" he asked, perplexed.
"Iíll manage," I growled and tippy toed down the hallway to keep from jarring my back. Taking the stairs was a different matter. I had never studied stairs so carefully as I inched my way down.
The goats were highly suspicious of me that morning. They thought I was trying to sneak up on them in a new disguise. Soon as I poured grain out in the feeders they instantly forgave me. In fact, they liked the new me. They knew where I was at at all times. They kept hearing, "Ouch, ouch, ouch." And, they could easily push me around. That was very entertaining for them.
Mom and dad just laughed at me. "Welcome to the club, the Uncle Arthur club." Thatís their affectionate name for arthritis. Well, I can tell you, heís no welcome relative of mine. Since they said the same thing to me when my knees started doing strange things, like locking up in the middle of going up or down the stairs, Iíve discovered a magic word that almost cures it. Ibuprofen. Thatís right, ibuprofen, or Advil. It has magical ingredients in it that almost takes the pain away and gives you better movement in the attacking joint. After taking the magical substance, I was almost standing straight my noon. Amazing stuff.
Another magical potion is a rub-on with capsaicin in it. As I understand it, this capsaicin is a red-hot chili pepper. Hottest pepper on the face of this planet, Iíll attest to that. Rub it on the offending joint or spot and you think someone has put a branding iron to you. Not only that, if you go out and work the goats or do chores and start sweating, watch out. You think someone has set you on fire, only you canít see the flames. This special potion may be the most potent of all pain relievers of Uncle Arthur. Just thinking about it and I get instantly cured and donít need to use it.
One thing Iíve noticed is that when you get arthritis in your knees, your knees develop eyes. No, I donít mean eyeballs and eyelashes kind of eyes. Itís the kind of eyes where they see and know when something is going to hurt them. Take walking up the stairs or a hill that you are use to doing a dozen times a day. Your knees look at the hill or stairs and says (Oh, I forgot they start talking to you too), "Do you really need to go up those stairs? Do you really need to go down those stairs? Couldnít you just this one time not do it? How about walking around the hill instead of over it. Itíll only take a day or two."
Or, the knees start noticing the heights of goats. You keep hearing from your knees, "Hey! Watch out! That kid is knee level. If he bumps into you itís going to hurt me and Iíll let you know just how bad it hurts. I wonít let you live it down. Hey! Thereís another one! Canít you raise shorter kids?"
Since the visitation of Uncle Arthur, I have learned new defenses. For instance, a different walk. When you stand up to take a step and your knees start screaming at you to take it easy, you canít just suddenly stop. The momentum has already started, you have to take the next step or fall on your face. If you hurt your face then Uncle Arthur may come to visit your face someday and no one wants that. Itís hard enough to look dignified while trying to raise goats without your face ouching in pain every time you try to sell a goat.
So, Iíve developed a very distinct walk to protect my knees. Itís a rolling, rocking from side to side, with a limp thrown in type of walk. Plus, until you get the kinks worked out of your knees, you add words to your walk. "Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch," works well for me. Hey, have you ever seen the movie "The Planet of the Apes"? Saw how the apes walked and on the DVDs they showed the Ape school the actors had to go to in order to learn that walk? Shoot, they should have just asked me. I had that walk down long before those people even thought of reproducing that movie again.
When I was perfecting my new walk, Lee asked why on earth I was walking that way. Being a smart alec, I told him it was my new sexy walk. He informed me I had better work on it more.
So now, with the help of my new "eyes" and my joints being able to talk to me, I have learned to protect myself. The knees will shout in the mornings, "All right. All right. Now, letís not get in a rush about this. Take one step on these stairs at a time. Have you ever considered demolishing this house and building one without stairs?" Or, "What?!! You actually think you can chase that kid down? Well, youíve got another thought coming, gal. Iím not about to chase no kid down."
Then the back is chiming in with, "Hold on now. Hold on. You want me to pick up that 65 pound bale and throw it over there? Youíre joking, right? Youíre just trying to get me to laugh. Youíre a card all right. How about this, cut the strings on that bale and carry over a couple of flakes at a time. Howís that? Iím sure those lazy, no good, worthless knees of your can still do that."
"I heard that!" the knees say.
Lee says, "Ready to go down to the other barn and feed?"
"Shhhhhhh. Canít you see Iím having a conversation here?" I answer.