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A Haulmark single axle 8-foot enclosed trailer weighs around 880 pounds empty. An original Vermont Castings Vigilant wood stove weighs in at 295 pounds. The fiberglass top to a vintage MG Midget probably weighs some 40 pounds. That adds up to 1,215 pounds. I stored the Vermont Castings stove and the MG top in the trailer. Everything needed to come up one-quarter of an inch to fit over the ball on my trailer hitch. The trailer balances on its two-wheeled axle. The jack is rusted and would not extend another millimeter. In my short-sighted desperation to get that trailer hooked up to my truck, I summoned every bit of adrenaline I had and yanked the trailer tongue up barely enough to fit over the ball. During this reckless stunt, I felt every muscle and tendon in my lower back give way. Because the trailer can rotate on its axle, there was no way that I had lifted 1,215 pounds, but whatever it was in reality, it was too much.

The excruciating pain started immediately. It took everything I had to walk to the cab of the truck. As long as I kept moving my back I was somewhat OK. Memories of former dumb stunts and poor lifting technique came rushing back. Suddenly, I recalled weeks of nursing a sore lower back in my past. If I remember correctly, the path to relief for me was rest and continued movement. The last time I hurt my back this badly was at least 25 years ago, so increased age probably won’t help the healing this time.

That evening I got a phone call from my half-brother. Jessy is a physical therapist specializing in the rehabilitation of hand injuries at a metropolitan hospital in Pennsylvania. After asking me a few questions he offered helpful advice to deal with the injury. I’ve followed his advice. The pain mitigation suggestions have helped quite a bit. However, all the sound medical advice in the world will not fix a back that I insist on re-injuring day after day since the initial injury.

On day 2, I brought a week’s worth of firewood into the house. Ouch. Day 3, I took a heavy load of refuse to the local landfill. Day 4, I helped move furniture and belongings from a car into a house. Day 5, I picked up boxes of ceramic tile and helped load and unload them. Day 6, I helped the guy delivering my new John Deere lawn tractor unload the mower deck. I haven’t lifted this much stuff in months. I injured my back and suddenly everything needs lifting.

When day 7 rolled around, I could barely get out of bed that morning. A trip to the pharmacy netted me a heating pad, a back stabilizing brace, and a bottle of ibuprofen. My stomach has never handled ibuprofen very well, but I took it anyway. My gluten-free diet healed my old tummy sensitivity. I was able to tolerate the meds.

I am imposing a strict moratorium on lifting. I need to give my back time to heal. To paraphrase a Buddhist belief: Our earthly troubles come from craving. I impatiently craved the connection between the trailer and the truck, motivating me just enough to make the poor decision to rotate the trailer upwards to accomplish the goal ... and that is the back story.

The Morning Almanac with Arlo Mudgett is heard Monday through Saturday mornings on radio stations Oldies KOOL FM 106.7, 96.3, and 106.5 and over Peak-FM 101.9 and 100.7.