I had agreed to head over to my parents’ house to help them spread a large pile of mulch that was on the driveway. So I got into work clothes and drove over. Got a shovel and the wheelbarrow. Put the shovel in the mulch. Picked up the mulch. Went to turn to put it into the wheelbar–
Ow. Ow. Owowowowowowowowowowowowowowowow.
Shoveling mulch is something I’ve done many times, without any problems. I shoveled snow all winter, with no problems. But this time, a sharp pain hit my lower back. I dropped the shovel and put a hand on my back. Couldn’t move for a couple minutes. Had to summon dad to help me into the house, where he got me an ice pack and pain medicine.
This was at 9 a.m. on a Saturday. I play Mass every Saturday at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. at my main parish. I couldn’t move without pain.
This, uh, was bad. I could call the guy who plays Sunday and ask him to play Saturday too, but he’s 83 or so years old and playing takes a lot out of him. Plus, I kind of need the money, because I’m taking off three weekends over the next three months and that’s going to cost me more than I care to acknowledge.
So I needed to play. It’s not entirely dissimilar to playing while sick, but it wasn’t much fun. I kept the ice on for a while, took the pain medicine, and attempted to walk again after taking three minutes to get up. I could walk! Somewhat! So I got in the car, drove to the local pharmaceutical store, and picked up some lower-back heat wraps, opening one and getting it on as quickly as I could.
After a couple hours, my back was feeling better. But I hadn’t had a chance to give it extra rest, so I swapped the later Mass for a Sunday morning Mass with the 83-year-old. Then I girded myself to play the 4 p.m.
Here are a couple helpful hints for playing a Mass with a back injury:
1. Move as little as possible.
2. Except during the homily, during which you should move to a chair with a back, as most organ benches don’t have one.
3. Garner as much sympathy as possible.
So it worked out OK. My legs weren’t hurt, and neither were my arms, so the more I held myself as still as possible, the better off I was. And when I played the Mass in the morning, I felt a lot better, though I was moving slowly.
And what have we learned? Never, ever help your parents move mulch on a Saturday morning. Ever.