As weeks go the last one pretty much rated on minus Brownie points. The Alberta wild horse cull (try watching a few YouTube videos of wildies being run down and roped), the sale itself – with distraught herd members being parted –reading and listening to so many interpretations of wildlife ‘management’ kick started a latent lymphatic condition of mine that’s courtesy of a humdinger of a 2008 whiplash (on a freshly mopped veterinarian’s floor). Chronic pain that goes acute is a real sod, and despite all the good things being mentored at the Foothills Pain Management clinic, well, Miss Low-Pain-Threshold here has brain cells going south when level start aiming at the high plus 7s.
And then on top of everything, I slipped on sheet ice and threw a twanged hip-ligament out of whack too. Eeeargh! Foothills Emergency efficiently dosed me on serious painkillers, but it was sports physio Sandra Sokoloski that heated me up, ran a bit of electricity through and had me walking straight(er), identifying the cause in minutes, and listing corrective exercises. I’m creaking mildly better, a week on, only resembling a crab-on-cocaine first thing in the mornings now!
With extreme sports – and riding rating up there in insurance stakes with downhill ski racing – it does pay to know the right specialists, and have money under the mattress for rainy days, or real handsome insurance coverage. In Alberta, agricultural and equestrian workers are grouped together in an odd no-benefits limbo (unless your employer has bought into the Worker Compensation Benefit (WCB). It’s one of only two provinces in Canada with this exclusion.
I remember reading a letter from former Premier Alison Redford QC two years back (her election manifesto had declared she would make this issue a high priority), who I was questioning for an article on this subject. The person can, she suggested, referring to any individual now affected by chronic pain by an agricultural accident, go for legal pro bono representation. I choked. You have someone earning perhaps $12-$18 hourly asking a lawyer (fees starting at roughly $375 hourly) to take your cause on for free, with this kind of provincial structure? On top of that, many agricultural workers have family working for the same employer, so are they going to sue, given that dynamic – as they sit there, dribbling, mentally impaired and not having a clue anyways, in their wheelchairs? In one of Canada’s wealthiest provinces it’s a sad statistic, and one I’ve argued in many an ad hoc supermarket debate.One rancher said WCB contributions would be prohibitive and I pulled out my calculations from a wallet pocket – half a month of his morning Tim Horton coffees more than covered. Oops.
If, for example, you have a teenaged daughter working in a stable who crunches out with a severe spinal injury, or say helping at a relative’s farm who forever damages or has fingers amputated in a random agricultural accident – or, an Ontario kid working at an Alberta outfitters one summer who gets badly kicked and ends up with chronic acute pain issues, you have no access, none, to long-term benefits. It’s really worth checking up with a very reputable insurance broker, and your own provincial authorities. Morphine, narcotics, even the lower rated Demerol or Tramadol come with serious price tags, throw in clinical depression with a life forever altered plus perhaps brain damage, even from ‘simple’ concussion factors, and unless your family sticks with you for the long-haul, many such accident victims end up on the streets, homeless, or families seriously financially compromised.
Sobering thought, eh? I know, I’m one step off that, and bless every morning I snatch a glimpse of wildlife that translates into a newspaper column, or inspirations for a children’s story, or a sellable photograph of an idiotic rabbit who thinks five horses are his! Or, as this ‘teaching’ snapshot of The Fox in his early days shows, why the black ‘eye’ of a camera is seen as predatory and a yawn is a tension release from me being so impolite as to stand there clicking right in his face.
A recent visitor commented on the pinto Apache yawning in his walking warm-up first five minutes, exclaiming with amusement ‘he must be tired!’ No, I’ve learned from these small moments teaching to cherish, and pass forward. The pinto boy yawns to let off tension (he’s a closet worrier!) and then – that little ritual recognized – he’s ready for the best point-your-toe workout, bless him.