Here's what I learned: If it's too heavy, don't move it. And, that realization does not come without a cost.
I learned the hard way.
The other day, I felt the sudden need to clean the wood floor in the dining room; a process that would require removing all the furniture. First, I moved the solid mahogany dining room table that I inherited from my grandmother. Easy as pie. Then I moved the large breakfront and corner cabinet. When I leaned over to lift the edge of the area rug, I felt a twinge between my shoulder blades.
But did I stop?
No, I did not.
I rolled that sixteen-by-twenty foot double-weave into one long log and proceeded to drag it across the floor. That's when I heard it. A pop. Or a ping.
It's hard to remember the exact sound because my head was consumed, almost instantly, with a burst of white-hot pain that knocked me to the bare floor. When I came to, I called to my husband in a quivering voice. "Please," I begged. "Help me."
He didn't hear me. His concentration was on the television.
I called again. "I'm on the floor. Can you give me a hand? I can't move."
"Can you wait a second?"
"I don't think so. The pain is spreading. I might be having a heart attack."
"But it's the Final Four," he shouted from the couch.
During a commercial, he tossed me a bottle of muscle relaxants leftover from his own back injury after shoveling snow one long ago winter.
"This prescription is expired," I said.
"Foul!" he shouted. "That was a foul! Where's the ref?"
It turns out that muscle relaxant dosages vary according to the weight of the user. As a result, I have only a vague recollection of the 24 hours that followed. During that time, no one noticed my dilated pupils or slack expression. If I had been there, I'd have called an ambulance.
I have been lying on the floor now for six days. From this angle, I can see clumps of dust under the end table, a stray sock under the sofa and a nest of what might be silverfish tucked beneath the baseboard. Luckily, my urge to clean is dulled by medication.
This morning, my husband stood over me to ask if I knew where he'd left his iPad. He also needed to know where I keep the Wet-Vac and if I paid the mortgage. Obviously, he misses me.
Later, a crash came from the kitchen. "Yogurt's dripping onto the floor!" someone cried out. "Mom's going to be mad."
I increased the temperature on my heating pad and closed my eyes. Clean floors are totally overrated.
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