Trying to get a job done and ending up with a useless right arm

The pain is in my right arm—specifically the elbow—and it left that arm feeling almost useless and without strength.

The job was installing a stairway along one side of our hillside home. Erosion over the years had washed away the dirt under the foundation and rats were getting under the house and living in the floor space between the 1st and 2nd story.

1 - Stairway Project April 2015

At night, I can hear them above my head moving around and rattling the electric wires that run between the first story celling and second story floor.

2 - Stairway Project April 2015

The soil is hard, packed clay and to break it up requires elbow grease swinging a sledge hammer against metal foundation spikes or against a concrete chisel or using a miner’s pick. The third day on that job, I overdid it. The first two days were digging and cutting out the ivy that was covering the space where the new stairs are going to go, and the ivy was growing under the foundation and into the area under the house. Before I started, the space where you see dirt and future steps was covered with ivy that was growing over the air conditioning unit and up the side of the house.

3 - Stairway Project April 2015

It was all that pounding that put the strain on an aging elbow that wasn’t up to the work it once did decades earlier, and that put my right arm out of commission.

4 - Stairway project April 2013

Once the pain is gone and the strength returns, I’ll get back to work. Getting old is a learning experience that never ends when we ask our bodies to do what we once did when we were much younger. The photos show how much I finished in those three days, but they don’t show all the trips to Home Deport to buy the material I’m using to get the job done. From the photos, it looks like a small job to me, but my right arm is telling me something different.


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His fourth novel is The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Complete Kindle e-book Cover on February 18 Flattened

Lloyd Lofthouse also worked as a maître d’ in a nightclub called the Red Onion for a few years. A romantic at heart, in his award winning novels, he tests true love in difficult situations and the challenges of keeping that love alive. My Splendid Concubine, his first novel, is an epic love story that teaches acceptance and respect for other people and their cultures. Running with the Enemy, his second novel is a love story that will either cost the characters their lives or will complete each other’s hearts. Lloyd Lofthouse lives with his family in California’s San Francisco Bay area.

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