By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Winter season brings variety of fiascos
Placeholder Image
September 2010 - Cheese Days were over and it was time for a break. An autumn trip to New Mexico was in order. Most people find a trip across the lonely Great Plains to be boring. I find it therapeutic.

Late September was out, then October as well. Maybe November, but nope, couldn't do it, which brings us to the day before Thanksgiving, a typical November drab day, a depressing drizzle in the air. The temperature dropped briefly below freezing.

I had an appointment for a haircut. Sure, I knew the concrete was covered with a thin glaze of ice as I walked across it. But I have good enough coordination and balance to navigate a bit of ice.

Wham ... I never hit the deck so hard in my life, flat on the upper left side of my back. I couldn't believe how in that split second, I was on the unforgiving concrete, staring into the gray sky, the freezing drizzle falling onto my face.

I took a deep breath and felt no pain, so probably had no fractured ribs. I didn't hit my head, so felt no dizziness. I ever-so-slowly picked myself up and cautiously tested my limbs. Full range of motion, no dizziness, no trouble breathing, and, incredibly, no pain. I must be OK. But I didn't feel OK. I just felt sort of weird - I can't begin to explain it.

I climbed into my GMC and headed for my appointment. I told Teri at the Hair Gallery about my mishap and how I was feeling no pain but felt sort of weird. Teri cautioned me, "Wait till morning."

I didn't have to wait till morning. An hour later, the pain hit me like an avalanche. I could still breathe without pain but if I so much as cleared my throat, or leaned over the least little bit, the pain was excruciating.

I checked in with my friendly chiropractor, he of total fitness advocacy. Dr. Lance assured me that my spine was in line, agreed that I probably had no fractured ribs, and counseled me to go home and ice it down. Ice was nice, and good advice. But like President Obama's stimulus package and Fed Chair Bernanke's expansionary monetary policy, it was the right medicine and definitely helped, but could not possibly be an instant cure.

On Thanksgiving Day, I felt a bit less pain, but on Friday no improvement. For my peace of mind, I had better check into the Monroe Clinic to visit Mike Sanders' ace practitioners. Since I had no appointment, my own Dr. Kaza was tied up with other patients. Receptionist Darlene graciously referred me to a physician's assistant. It happened to be Mike's daughter, who recognized me. It's always nice to be recognized. I was still in good hands. After X-rays, she cheerfully advised me that there appeared to be no fractures or damage that she or the ace practitioners who view those images could detect. I felt better already, though still in pain.

Mike's daughter prescribed some pain pills, of which I took a few - very few. Sure enough, each day I felt less pain and in about 10 days it was like it never happened. Let's hear it for clean living. Plenty of milk, cheese, and a beer now and then. I wish those nutrition gurus would quit trashing these healthful Wisconsin products.

It was still December, but January was nigh when Henry Blumer and I were slated to accompany our local talented yodeler, Toni Blum Seitz, with our accordions at the Monroe Art Center's Showcase of Talent. Before we rehearsed with Toni, Henry and I had to make sure we were in sync. It was snowing that December evening when I drove out to Henry's farm. After a couple hours of practicing and some snacks served up by Henry's wife, Mary Joyce, I tossed my accordion into my GMC and backed out of the driveway. I figured that if I tried to turn around in the driveway, I would get stuck.

The more you try to avoid something, the more it's likely to happen. It was dark and snowing, the driveway was slippery, and I had to back uphill. So I gunned it, and when the wheels hit the dry road, the momentum propelled me back into the ditch. Yeah, I know. It was a dumb thing to do. But it wasn't the first, or the last, dumb thing I had done or would do.

Like all forward-looking farmers, Henry keeps a log chain handy in his truck. He easily (and cheerfully) pulled me out. Mary Joyce suggested a guardrail to prevent such future occurrences. I have a better idea. Next time I should just turn around and get stuck in Henry's driveway to make it more convenient.

This fiasco was just another instance of where trying overly hard to avoid something will more likely ensure that it happens. Or, as Ron Spielman recently reminded us at the Showcase of Talent, if there is a 50 percent chance something will go wrong, there is a 99 percent chance that it will. This is a curious corollary of probability theory with which farmers, mechanics, and economists are intimately familiar.

It reminds me of the time in the Marine Corps when I wanted to make sure I didn't flunk a rifle inspection by "Little Jesus," the captain who believed the iron discipline of the entire Corps rested on his shoulders. To make sure I wouldn't flunk, I stupidly did something that ensured that I would. Only some fast action and an incredible stroke of luck kept me from being run up higher than a kite for a grievous Marine Corps sin. But that's another tale for another day.

This same principle would apply to another minor December fiasco.

To be continued ...

- Monroe resident John Waelti can be reached at