I’m not someone who runs to the doctor without a darn good reason.
I don’t know if it’s cowboy stoicism, frugality, fear, stubbornness or the distance to the doctor, but I usually just stay put and tough it out. It’s not a recommended attitude given the importance of preventive care, I know.
However, I do practice on-ranch preventive care, old-fashioned remedies outside the realm of medical miracles and prescribed panaceas.
I get a lot of exercise, some in the regular course of the day on a not-so-automated ranch and some where I actually pick up my weary bones and force myself to move around for fun and the health of it.
They say riding horse is good exercise. The rider doesn’t get as much of a workout as the horse but it tones up the muscles that keep you from falling off, and it’s good for the head — most times.
I was recently riding horse to get the kids outside for some fresh winter air. I was pulling them on a “sled” — the hood of an old pickup, actually — behind the horse and going at a good lope.
It was good, clean fun until we suddenly discovered a three foot deep bull hole underneath the snow. By “we” I mean the horse and me. Bull holes under the snow don’t bother sledders.
It was quite a wreck when we discovered the hole, hindquarters over teakettle, or pick another anatomical expression, as the saying goes.
The horse went down, plowed snow with his nose and began to roll sideways. In similar top-heavy fashion, I got free of the stirrups (a good thing) and with a strong gravitational pull my head went through the snow and made firm, sudden contact with frozen Mother Earth (a not so good thing).
As the snow fog settled, three little voices piped up.
“Are you okay Dad?”
“Um, groan, yeah, I think so.”
The horse stood there and didn’t run home. I mounted back up, we did a little more sledding and called it a day.
The next day, I realized I couldn’t turn my head anymore. And that’s a handy thing to be able to do when you want to see something besides what’s straight ahead. Sleep was a bit tortured, and waking up felt worse, not better.
After 42 years of chiropractor-free living, I decided to give one a call and we worked in an appointment with another trip I had to make anyway. The X-rays looked good. Maybe ranch life wasn’t so hard on me. He said some of the worst X-rays he sees are from people who sit at a desk all day, every day.
He did some other tests. I thought he was talking about the ear tag numbers of cows — C2, T5, L4 — but I guess it had something to with little bones in my back and neck.
Then he put me down face first, I took a deep breath, and just when I was getting comfortable, KA POW! CRACK! UFF DA!
I kind of knew it was coming, but, still, I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. I laughed. That’s usually the one I pick.
He did that little trick a few more times and then hooked me up to some kind of converted electrical fencer to work on the muscles around my neck.
If lightning takes out our electric fencer on the ranch, I’m going to see if I can borrow his.
They sent me off with an appointment card to come back again in a couple days. They always do, don’t they? But here’s the end of the story: I can turn my head again, I feel pretty good and I’m ready for the next wreck.
Would it have gotten better on its own? I don’t know. But I learned something, I feel better and I was able to write a column about it. I’d call it two successful visits to the chiropractor. I suppose next time it’ll take three appointments, though.