Monday, July 03, 2006

Spelunking and kerplunking: a story for the chiropractor

We Mreidians (Scruffy, too) are indeed safely back from our trip to Austin to visit with my mother for a couple of days. It was a relaxing trip, but we're glad to be back.

The main adventure on this trip was a journey to New Braunfels (just north of San Antonio) on Saturday to visit Natural Bridge Caverns, "Texas' Largest Cave." That's the "spelunking" part, though it's admittedly overstating to call it spelunking when one is walking along lighted, paved walks with strategically-located handrails. But sometimes searches for rhymes force the writer to exaggerate or distort the truth of some things in order to be true to something larger, more significant; to wit, the "kerplunking" in this instance.

Some context: Mom is not Old, but she is 20 years older than I am, and I am 44. More to the point of this post, for the past few years she has lived with pain in her hips that limits the amount and kind of walking she can do. This pain is the result of pressure on nerves in her lower back, and she'll be having surgery to correct this later this summer. In the meantime, she has visited a chiropractor who is able to give temporary relief for her pain, but as things have progressed that relief has lasted for ever-shortening lengths of time. The chiropractor is decent and compassionate enough to admit to her that he can do no more for her than what he's been doing.

So: when I suggested we visit the caves, it was done with a partial eye to her state: a short car ride to them; a walk in the caves themselves of 3/4 mile . . . piece of cake. This is Texas' Largest Cave, but it ain't no Carlsbad Caverns in size.

One other, crucial difference: Carlsbad is a mostly-dead cave. Natural Bridge is very much "alive"--meaning wet.

Mom said later that when we heard the cheerful young woman at the cave's entrance warn us about taking into consideration our physical limitations and asked us to think about the shoes we were wearing, she (Mom) almost turned back to wait for us to go on through the cave, but she decided in the end that she wanted to see it with us. So, go with us she did; and at the first switchbacking descent her right foot slipped awkwardly, causing her to sprain her ankle, and down she went on the walkway.


Of course, none of this was especially funny at the time, given the shape her back and hips are in. But she knew immediately that nothing worse than the sprain had occurred, and so she got angry that she wouldn't be able to finish the tour.

And something odd happened as well: now, Mom feels no pain at all in her hip when she stands. It may just be that the pain in her sprain is distracting her from feeling the pain in her hip, but still. Sometimes, one takes good news however it may come along, however fleeting it might be.


fearful_syzygy said...

Hmmm. Sounds like the old cartoon-logic of hitting someone over the head a second time to cure

I hope the cure subsists.

Ariel said...

This is remarkable. I may have to look into a similar cure for lower back pain. Kudos to your mom for her spelunking habit.

Sine.Qua.Non said...

John! I can not believe you were in Austin and New Braunfels, a mere 20 minutes from me, if not less, and didn't even tell me you'd be down this way! I would have loved to meet you and Mrs. Meridian.

I am going to the caves immediately and falling down intentionally if this is the result...and, I've had serious back surgery. Oh, for a day without pain.

John B. said...

We were on a very tight schedule with my mom; indeed, before the night before, we hadn't even planned on going to New Braunfels. But other trips to Austin are forthcoming; we'll keep you alert.

John B. said...

err, "alerted."