Window on Connecticut Avenue
Cover Your Ears -- and Maybe Your Eyes

At Least I Saw Stars

Well, the results are in.

I have moderately severe degenerative arthritis in my neck. It's affecting the C3 through C5 vertebrae, with nerve impingement in C3 on the right side and in C3 and C5 on the left.

No wonder it hurts.

The doctor asked if I played sports when I was young. (Note that he said "young," not "youngER." Ahem.) I admitted that I did not; however, I did take an acrobatics class in the 70s.

To be exact, I took an acrobatics class from September 1975 to November 1975, when I was in Clown College. One of the exercises we had to do was to leap onto a mini-trampoline, soar headfirst over a vaulting horse, and end in a dive roll.

I had never done such a thing, never in my entire life.

The assistant teacher gave us a tip before we started -- "Shoot your arms straight up as you come off the tramp," he said. "It will give you the height you need to clear the horse."

However, he did not remind us to tuck our heads as we landed and rolled, probably because he thought that was such an elementary, basic instruction that it did not need to be said.

I took his advice to heart as I ran toward the mini-tramp. I jumped; I shot my arms up. I cleared the horse, no problem, and I sailed right over and held my head nice and straight.

You know what's coming, don't you? Sure you do.

I landed right smack dab on the top of my head. I didn't lose consciousness, but as I lay on the mat I thought to myself, "Wow -- you really do see stars!"

Anyway, I was a lousy acrobat. I did learn how to do that dive roll and eventually I even learned to do a backward somersault on a trampoline, but I was always terrified.

And now, 37 years later, the birds have come home to roost in my poor neck. The doctor has referred me to physical therapy for now, so we'll see if that helps. If not, the next referral is to the spine surgeon. He hesitates to prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs for a chronic condition like this because they have a nasty effect on kidney function, so I'm left with this -- which is also my photo for today, with the theme of "Red."