Thursday, September 8, 2011

Gravity is the enemy

What happens when your body no longer does what it is supposed to do?

Yesterday afternoon I was out with my dog on our normal cruise through the neighborhood when I came across a water turtle on the road. I consider myself the resident protector of turtles, so I stopped to move it.

As I approached, I thought it was strange that the turtle did not seem afraid of me. Then I noticed that a car had run over his backside. His back legs were crushed and would not work. However, there was not any blood present and the front legs and head were still active. 

I carefully picked it up and moved it to within a couple of feet of the lake. I set in down on the grass and waited. Over several minutes I watched the turtle lift itself up using its front legs and try to move forward. Because the rear legs would not work the turtle just laid there looking like it was doing pushups.

turtle As the turtle struggled, I was saddened by the situation.  I assumed it had to be in some pain, but it also couldn’t move.  

I could empathize to some degree because its condition was similar to how I have felt a few times. HELPLESS!  The turtle’s body was not responding like it knew it should. Without four legs to lift its body off the ground, it did not have the strength to crawl back to the world where it felt safe (the lake).

There have been several times in my life where I fell and could not get up. My legs would just not support me. It is a helpless feeling as well as a frustrating one. You know what needs to be done, but the body has failed you.

Fortunately, in almost every case there was someone there to help. My wife, a friend, or a total stranger picked me up or supported me while I found a way to stand up. At times like this pride or embarrassment is not an issue because you know you are not going anywhere without someone’s help.

My muscles are slowly failing me and gravity is now an enemy. I understand why it is happening, but explanations don’t help when I fall. I, like the turtle, need help.

But, how was I going to help the turtle?

Would its body be too badly damaged to survive in the water? I reasoned that gravity is now the turtle’s enemy as much as it is mine. However, since it lives in a world where it is buoyant, perhaps the turtle still has a chance of living in the water. So, I carefully moved the turtle to the edge of the lake and placed it into the shallow water where it could still breathe. Then I backed away and watched.

After a few seconds the turtle’s front legs spun it around and it slidturtle-in-water-2 effortlessly into the silt of the lake bottom.

Would it ... could it still live with the type of injuries it sustained? I don’t know. But, at least it had a chance.

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