Playing hurt

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.

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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.



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