How's it now, eh?

    I've always liked physical labor, but I haven't always been able to do it. Born with asthma, or at least developing it soon after birth, during an era of no medication or inhalers, like Albuterol, my stamina and endurance was zero. I was a gangly, skinny-armed 'weakling' of a kid (not that I'm Mr. Macho now or ever have been) that couldn't run a block without being winded or push a reel-type mower around a fifty by one hundred foot city lot without almost collapsing or gasping for breath. I was pretty much a sissy during my childhood, last picked to be on a team, the whole bit.
    My father, on the other hand, was a very strong man most of his life. I think I was a disappointment to him if only because of my inability to do anything requiring a lot of physical activity, athletically speaking. Oh, I could throw a ball a long ways, but I couldn't catch it on a reliable basis. Didn't have the desire nor ability for any school sports; couldn't run. Hated hills, up or down.
    But back in 1972, my lungs collapsed 'way out on a remote Canadian lake northeast of Dryden, Ontario and I barely made it to the Dryden Hospital alive. A long story I won't go into here, but must say it changed my life. It was at the Dryden Hospital I received my first inhaler of "Isuprel," as I recall. The doctors couldn't believe I never had an inhaler before that, especially being an American and all. Did I mention it changed my life? Did I say the difference was like between night and day? Winter and summer? The Beatles and Lawrence Welk? 
    It was amazing to walk into a hayloft of fresh mown hay and not suddenly be devastated by even the smell. I always enjoyed the fragrance of fresh mown hay, but until that inhaler, it was always a signal of the end of a day outside for me- - and inside the house I had to go to catch my  breath for pretty much the whole afternoon. I've long made the analogy that for most of my life I lived-in a room full of water with just an inch or so of air to breathe near the ceiling. When a person lives like that all his/her life they don't know any different; you don't know that you aren't ingesting oxygen the same as everyone else. You accept that some people are weak and some people are strong, and you're one of the weak ones,. .until you get this miracle medicine that enables you to really breathe. It was like gaining sight after looking at the world through slits in your eyelids. Totally blew my mind.
   With an inhaler, I could walk up hills without gasping at the top. I increased my strength, stamina, endurance appreciably, though I never had the desire to play baseball or football as a youth, but getting the oxygen I needed enabled me to sweat with the best of them, unload semis by hand, work on farms, cut firewood, run a few miles each day, mow yards, shovel sidewalks and driveways in the winter, breathe almost normally without becoming too reliant on an inhaler.
   Maybe because I didn't participate in sports as a youth, I'm in good physical condition for my age. Knock on wood, my knees, hips and back are good enough to do squats; I can touch my toes without bending at the knee after my muscles are warmed-up. My shoulders, neck, elbows and hands are flexible enough for me to lift substantial weight close to my body and I think about what I'm going to do before I do it so I won't hurt myself (hopefully). 
    My dad hurt his back late in life after participating in moreorless a stunt at work, after a guy bet him he could pull him up on his feet from the floor in one swift motion, when something snapped in Dad's lower  back- - forever. He went in and out of suffering with back pain for the rest of his life, so I always try to be conscientious with mine.
    When the perspiration is trying to sting my eyes and I'm wiping it from my face with a paper towel I have stuffed in my pocket or when my muscles are hot from exercise but I'm making real progress, I'm on top of the world and wishin' my dad could see me now.


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