Went down last week: Hard down. After covering Circuit Court during the day Tuesday, followed by the evening meeting of the Board of Supervisors, I collapsed walking to my car.
A trip to Carilion Clinic in Floyd Wednesday morning brought one of the frequent lectures from Dr. Joseph Baum about pushing too hard and not getting enough rest. He pumped cortisone into my swollen right knee (along with helpful numbing agents) and ordered me to spend the rest of the week and this weekend off my feet.
On this damp Sunday morning, the swelling in the knee is down, almost to a normal size, and the pain that had me groaning from any and all attempts to move is gone. Ah, better living through chemistry.
With Amy watching everything I do or don’t do, I have obeyed doctor’s orders and spent most of the past four days with my right leg elevated. A reasonable beautiful Friday with decent temperatures and dry conditions came and went with my motorcycle remaining in the garage.
Friends on Facebook and Twitter have offered encouragement and advice and email exchanges with a number others have prompted some needed thought about how I live and what I should or should not be doing at age 70.
I’ve worked full-time for the past 55 years, beginning at age 15 in 1963 when Pete Hallman took a chance on a brash upstart high school student who thought he could report the news and shoot photographs for The Floyd Press.
A gig at The Roanoke Times began right after high school graduation and I thought I could work full-time and carry a full class load at the University of Virginia’s Roanoke Center in 1965. The work continued but I dropped out of college after my sophomore year.
After four years at the Times, I moved on the The Telegraph in Alton, Illinois, for 12 years and, when I left to go to Washington in 1981, I had almost a year of unused vacation and leave time accumulated.
Working is what I do. Even while taking a sabbatical from newspapers to work for Congress and later as a political operative — the only jobs I didn’t love — I worked 12 hours days minimum.
Vacations often centered around work. Amy joined me for work in London, Rome and Israel in 1985, Hawaii a few years later, a working New Year’s Eve in London and job-related trips to various places around the country.
Once in a while, we actually got away from the job: A two-week stay on the island of Lanai in Hawaii, a trip to the Caribbean and a couple of trips to domestic locales, but regular vacations took a back seat to the work at hand.
Before this doctor-imposed “time off,” my last such break came in 2012 with a two-month hospital stay after an encounter with a cow on my motorcycle. The wreck came while returning home from shooting a playoff football game near Staunton on Nov. 9, 2012. I did not return to work until February 2013.
The problem with my leg that prompted this latest time off is a recurring one from the multiple broken bones and other injuries in 2012. Guess I don’t heal as fast as I thought.
With luck, work returns Monday with basketball games to photograph at Floyd County High School, Circuit Court on Tuesday and more basketball Thursday,, followed by a video shoot Saturday night at The Floyd Radio Show.
Am I slowing down? At age 70, I am slower than I was but taking it easy is not my style. I love what I do and do what I love.