WE WERE MEANT TO BEND Avoid the Perils of Back Surgery

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Then he laughed, and told me what to do. Here, come on and help. And I say, I nearly forgot. Where is it? Last time I saw it was when father hung it on one of the gun-pegs over the fire-place. There were two or three echoing raps with the hammer, and then a couple of finishing blows, before the American cried—. Hallo, there!

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Ned gagged the bell at once by thrusting his left hand in its mouth and holding the clapper; but the little peal he had rung had done its work of setting all the mules in motion, bringing them all up close to the ringer, who found himself in the midst of a knot of squealing and kicking brutes, who diversified their vicious play by running open-mouthed at one another to bite.

But they were all loaded at length, there was a final look round, and then a move was made for the long shed, whose big door gaped wide, and as their footsteps were heard there was a shrill neigh from within and the sound of impatient stamping. Got your revolvers, boys?

For answer the boy reached out and took hold of the strap, casting his eye over the sturdy little steed, which seemed too small to carry so tall a man as its rider. Chris noted that there was the long hide lasso-rope curled up and hanging in its place by the saddle-bow, and that the saddle-bags were in their places, carefully strapped on, so that a tin bucket, which was also hung behind, should rest on one and not prove a nuisance to horse or rider.

What a lot of these odds and ends we could have stowed out of the way. But there, no wonder; he felt like father, that it was all lose, lose, lose, and that it was unfair not to be at work.

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Father said last night when we were alone that we must bid good-bye to being boys with the place—leave all that here, and begin to think of being and acting like men. It was so jolly to be a boy here in the dear old place. Oh, bother the old gold! Apples grow stout and strong and slow. Nothing else has done well.

As father says, it has all been like slow ruin coming on; but I like the dear old place all the same, because we helped to make it out of the wilderness into a great garden. We should have felt much more miserable when we were starting to go back to England, not knowing what we were going to do. We should have had to go, and this is going to be like a great roving holiday, seeing something fresh and new every day. There, I begin to feel better now. I always feel better when the sun shines.

There, good-bye, old place, if we never see you again. We might find the gold, and then come back here to live. They may come in useful. Either of you youngsters got room for a few nails in your pocket? But Griggs was ready for it, and threw out one of his long legs, the toe of his boot catching the mule in the cheek and spoiling the aim. Now then, ring up.

Get on. Here, boys, you ought to give a cheer. No one: the moments were too sad, for there seemed to be a thick black veil hanging before them right in front, and neither dared to think of what might be to come. Onward, onward into the future, with the wilderness unseen waiting to swallow up the adventurers in the unknown way—the perils to be encountered happily hidden from them as yet.

It had been decided that they should make for the farthest part known to them south and west, where the wildest country lay, and they had been twice before, Griggs having paid double that number of visits in search of game. There the cultivation ceased entirely, for the rich soil gave place to sage-brush and a far-stretching tract of salt or alkali desert, Griggs proposing that they should cross this, for after a good deal of questioning the settlers in that direction, he elicited the information that one of the settlers upon the verge of the good lands had seen a strange-looking tramp, as he called him, pass his lonely shanty one evening, but feeling no desire for any such company he had stood back among the trees, and his place had certainly not been seen by the stranger.

We could find a spot to camp out for the night, and start early the next morning to see if we could not cross the bad land before dark. The mules soon steadied down; the day was hot, but not unpleasantly so, and after crossing a very wild patch some miles in extent they picked up a track and followed it, to come upon cultivated land again, and the track led them to a shanty built upon the bank of a river also dried into a series of pools; but as they approached the house and obtained a near inspection of the cultivated ground it became very plain that no hoe had been between the rows of fruit-trees that year, and on riding up to the shingled wood house, they found no sign of living creature—no ducks paddling in the pool, or fowls pecking about near the enclosed yard; all was still and silent.

They had come upon another sign of failure, for, as far as they could see, the place had been deserted for quite a year. Go and see what the water is like in that farthest pool, Chris. This one is nearly all mud. Chris urged his mustang forward towards where there was a glint of water through some trees four or five hundred yards ahead, but he had not gone one-fourth of the distance before he was overtaken by Ned, who was as eager as he to see what the place was like.

They soon knew—a carefully-tended Far West estate, given up and allowed to go back to a state of nature. Fruit-trees had been planted in abundance, but as the boys got farther from the house the wild vines and weeds were gradually mastering the useful trees, and in another year or two the plantations would have lost all trace of the hand of man and be wild jungle once more. I say, how sandy the ground is here! The next minute they realised why it was so sandy, for instead of its being a cleared track it proved to be the dried-up bed of a little sandy river, one that linked the pools together when the wet season came on.

Perhaps the next plantation may have some one to give us a little information. Camp was formed then as far as was necessary, the fairly-well-built house offering plenty of shelter, and the place round, ample grazing-ground for the beasts. A hasty meal was made, and then Wilton and Griggs were appointed scouts, riding off and returning at sundown with the information that the plantation they were on was the farthest to be seen—all beyond was wilderness, but with nothing in the shape of high ground beyond, save in one spot where a hill or two rose faintly blue against the sky.

But it was a change. Everything was fresh, and this first start had ended the monotonous drudgery of their unsatisfactory life at the plantation. So Ned had given his opinion that it was jolly, an idea which, now he had shaken off the feeling of depression at leaving what had for years been his home, Chris fully shared. Over and over again they longed to give their sturdy, well-chosen little nags a touch with the heel to send them racing along through the dusty-looking sage-brush; but they had to be contented with plodding steadily along behind the train, save when Chris found that there was something he wanted to ask Griggs, who kept on by the leading mule and its bell, and then the question seemed to be so important and weighty that it took two boys to carry it.

The first few times the doctor had taken no notice, but after Chris had cantered forward four times to rein up on one side of the American, with Ned on the other, his father said dryly when he overtook him—. It is this: Let your head save your heels. I only meant, the next time you want to ask about something that has been left behind, keep it in your head till you think of the next thing, and the next.

You might collect half-a-dozen, and then you could go and ask them altogether. Do you see? Every one is tired. We have had a very wearing day, beginning so early as we did with the packing and getting off. A stitch in time saves nine, my dear boy. We want to start early every morning for Unknownia, if you will let me coin a name for the place of our search. To do them justice, this was no fault of theirs. They were tired enough, but their eyelids felt as if they were furnished with springs which held them wide open, to stare through the open side of the barn at the glittering stars, while their ears were all on the strain to listen to the different sounds that came from all around.

At first there was the cropping of the horses and mules, as they feasted on the fresh shoots of the abundant growth, owing to the moisture beneath the little dry river-bed having kept the coarse grasses pretty succulent. There was the hum of mosquitoes and the boom of big beetles, and every now and then the cry and answering cry of some animal unknown from out in the sage-brush. But for a time the lads lay silent, till a peculiar mournful shout, as it seemed to be, came from the direction of the lagoon, sounding so mournful and human that it was too much for Ned, who whispered—.

Perhaps we should have heard some of these ticks and squeaks and rustlings if we had lain awake. I say, Ned, I believe all the wild things from round about are coming to see what we want here. Not frightened, are you? He turned over on the other side, determined to sleep now, and he tried hard for quite a quarter of an hour, the effort seeming to make him more wakeful than ever, for his senses were all upon the strain, while as the night progressed fresh noises, some of them quite peculiar, seemed to arise. Once he started, for there was a heavy splash which in the clear air sounded quite near, but which was evidently from the lagoon; and it put to flight an idea he had been nursing up of going down to the sheet of water and ridding himself of his hot tickling clothes so as to have a good swim before breakfast.

That was all over now, for that splash told of alligators swimming in the lagoon to his heated imagination. He had never heard of the reptiles existing in that part of the country, but he knew that there were plenty in the swamps farther to the south, and there was no reason why there might not be some in the wild districts into which they were plunging.

Another splashing noise succeeded, and he felt that it might have been made by a fish, and others which succeeded have been caused by waterfowl. But all idea of bathing was dismissed. At last, after a long hot lapse of time, during which he had given many a vicious rub to the unclothed parts of his body, and turned again, feeling as if there were far too many buttons on his clothes, which instead of confining themselves to their proper duty of holding the said garments in their places, felt as if they had become animate and were engaged in treating his flesh as if it was wax and they were seals.

Oh, how tired, how sleepy I do—Ugh! He did not rub now, he dared not, and that ejaculation was like a husky sigh—very low; but it was loud enough to rouse Chris into wakefulness. A snake? Be careful! Chris and I saw a big one down in the river-bed this afternoon. It is not likely that one would be here. This place is as dry as tinder. Now then, go to sleep. He backed out of the place, and the boys lay listening to the rustle and crackle of his departing steps.

I say, think you can go to sleep now? We shall get used to it, and think nothing of sleeping anywhere. I say, I was asleep, and you woke me out of a beautiful dream—such a lovely one. But it took no trying. Five minutes later both boys were sleeping soundly after this initiation in what they would have to encounter during their wild journey. Ned was ready to laugh at his scare when riding forward in the sunshine of a brilliant morning. He had been awakened by Griggs with a cheery hail, to find the cool damp air of morning impregnated with the agreeable odour of coffee fuming away over the embers of a crackling fire which showed up the browsing animals here and there in the darkness.

The rest lies with chance and good fortune. But soon after the darkness grew grey, there was a faint band visible in the heavens which gradually broadened, trees started into view to right and left, and after progressing some distance in silence, Chris and Ned, who had taken up their positions on starting right and left of Griggs, began to find their tongues and make remarks about the faint streaks of orange colour which lit up the zenith.

Soon after it was as if the coming light of day was illumining them as well as the landscape, and they ended by asking questions and then talking loudly about what had passed in the night. You have so much room to breathe. It was too hot and stuffy in there, with things creeping into your hair and ears. I soon got up and shook them off so as to go and pick a place near where the doctor was watching, so that he should know where to find me.

It was then that Chris annoyed his companion by relating the night alarm, though Ned was ready enough to join in the laugh against himself. The opinion was endorsed before anything had been done, by an order from their leader, who had been using his glass, and now shouted from the rear that they should bear off to the left and then make straight for the elevation dimly-seen like a low cloud in their front. Say, we might as well let watches take their chance now, and trust to the sun. I say, we must talk to the boss about having some shooting if we see a chance. Regular soda plain, this.

No cannibal that I ever heard of in our family. If we strike them we may drop upon a flock of gobblers now and then. We might come upon buffalo or a deer now and then. All depends upon our getting into quite lonely spots. Prairie hens, or cocks. We ought to christen him Mosquito.

I did that idiotic thing twice over before I thought what a fool I was towards myself, and teaching you two lads at the same time. Never try such a thing, whatever you do. If ever you see any one aim at a person with a gun, knock him over, and save accident. What would be the use of the gold to me then? I say, when you were keeping watch in the night, did you hear or see anything? That was something. Deal rather Master Skeeter here got it. A bite would make him smile and look more handsome than he does now. Sometimes when the track they made for themselves was easy and level a good many miles were got over; at others the hindrances seemed to multiply, and Griggs laughingly said it never rained but it poured, and then the tale of miles traversed became very few at the end of the day.

But the American worked harder than any one, and always with unfailing good-humour. There, do you see? Be this right or wrong, the baggage-carrying animals did their best when Griggs was near them, and a few absurd words from his powerful lungs stopped kicking, biting, and squealing when a revolution seemed to be on the way, and a fight of heels had begun, to the imminent risk of disaster to the packs.

You might scare something better. Now, look yonder; there lie four fine fat rattlers, fast asleep on that patch of sand.


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Might just as well eat alligator. In an instant there was a scattering of sand and a rush for safety, the snakes taking refuge amongst the brush around, leaving not a sign of their presence. Why, a hungry man would be able to polish off one easy. But from that time, oddly enough, they saw no sign or trace of the reptiles. The sun grew hotter and hotter, but neither in sandy level nor rugged stony patch was a snake seen basking.

Nothing was visible but lizards, and they disappeared when the doctor called a halt in the most rugged part of a stony waste where there was an overhanging cliff and a broken gully which promised at a distance to be the home of a spring; but though it had evidently been at one time a pool overhung by rocks, there was not a trace of moisture. It afforded a little shelter, however, in an overhanging part where there was a rugged projecting shelf, and there being nothing better, the halt was made there, only to prove too hot a one for endurance, the rocks seeming to glow, and keeping off such air as was astir as well as the sun; so after a short time the doctor decided to go on once more in search of some more likely place.

In those hot, weary hours the elasticity and cheerfulness of the boys died away. In the early morning it had been all laugh and chat and notice of everything they passed that seemed novel, but with the coming of noon quite a change came over them, and Ned took to sighing from time to time, then to murmuring, and at last after a long, low expiration of the breath—. It gets so jolly monotonous. Here we go on, ride and tramp, ride and tramp, day after day, seeing nothing but sand and sage-brush, sand and sage-brush. You talked as if you had had enough of it, and wanted to go back.

I only said what I did because I was hot and tired, and it is so tiresome, one day just like another, and not a bit of adventure to go through. Why, I expected no end of fun in that way—I mean, no end of excitement. Like to go back perhaps? How hot it is!

So did Griggs, and Ned went on—. Wildest of the wild? I thought we should have had plenty of adventures with them by now. Stones and sand, and sand and stones, and all of no use at all. There may be gold or silver or lead, tin or copper, or some of those minerals that chemists and such folk use. What about precious stones—diamonds and rubies? What do you say to that? Wait a bit, and we shall come upon some of them. We shall find watercourses soon, and that means trees and grass and quite a different climate. More likely in the plains. Your fathers have got quite enough to think about without having to talk to you about being a little more plucky and patient.

But I say, Griggs, do you really think we are going to find a change in the country soon? We have had enough of sand and sage-brush, and we do want a regular change. No more was said then, the two boys sometimes riding, sometimes walking, till after some hours Griggs pulled up, to point to the fact that they had reached what seemed to be the summit of an enormous land-wave heaved up and rising for miles either way across the desert, but right in front descending slowly into a vast hollow plain which glistened in its desolation as if frosted with silver.

Look at the stones, though. Regular rocky ridges rising up one above the other on the other side of that frosty lake part. He pointed to his left, where there was a manifest change in the scenery as seen through the shimmering haze which hindered the view. There are the mountains at last! What are you pointing at, squire? Ned made no answer, but sat fast where he had checked his pony, pointing to where hundreds, perhaps thousands, of heavy grey stones lay scattered widely about over the sandy slope.

More to the left. It is that tree I mean. Shut your eyes for a bit, my lad. Here, you two are not looking the right way. Look there; I want you to see what it means. He said no more, but sat staring in one direction with his mouth wide open and his eyes seeming ready to start out of his head. The next moment his companions had grasped the phenomenon, and had hard work to keep their mounts from dashing frantically away.

You seem to have led us right into the empire of snakes. Quick, look alive, or the poor brutes will be right amongst the reptiles. Come and help, or we shall have a stampede. Disaster of a serious kind was about to fall upon the little expedition, and but for the energy of Griggs and Chris matters would have been worse than they were. For panic had seized upon two or three of the mules, which took alarm from the startled mustangs, and directly after they would all have been in headlong flight, kicking wildly as they tore away, when the same thought came to two of the party who had the energy and nerve to put it into action.

The rest of the mules were still galloping, but Skeeter led, and his behaviour began to influence his companions to such an extent that as they grew farther from the object of their alarm the kicking and plunging gradually subsided. The effort of going full speed under loads generally carried at a walk began to tell, and at the end of half-a-mile all were under control and following their bell-bearing leader, till Skeeter was checked, no serpents were in view, and the controllers of the wild race sat panting upon their mustangs, ready to round up any mule which made a fresh start, and every living thing panting from their late exertions, the bipeds eagerly calculating the damage that had been done.

The doctor groaned, for there lay the scattered objects in sight, while how many lay beyond his ken he was afraid to think. Of course he felt that they could be collected again, and that they were not of a nature to have suffered much damage, but it would probably be the beginning of another stampede to force any of the animals back along a track infested by serpents, and a task that would try the nerves of the stoutest of them seeing how horribly insidious was the danger, when the lifting of a bale might mean the incurring of a deadly stroke from a hidden foe.

In all probability no reader of this ever encountered a mule team represented by so many sets of four legs, a head, and tail, and a body hidden by the load secured upon the backs of the owners of the legs by means of cords tied with what a mule-driver calls the diamond-hitch. The reader has also probably never seen a mule dissatisfied with the load it has been called upon to bear, and doing its best to shed the same load. Griggs had secured most of the loads that day, and he had done well; but all did not stand the strain, and the appearance of the mules standing, hanging of head, stamping, twitching their ears and whisking their tails to get rid of the flies, was painfully ludicrous.

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Skeeter, as became him, being leader, and, thanks to the way in which he had been checked, was the most reputable-looking of the team, for others were horrible. Here stood one mule with his load resting upon the sand, the animal striding across it, head and fore-legs in front, hind-legs and tail behind, and nothing upon its back but tightened ropes. A little farther on was one which had shed its load and stood with drooping head, looking as if it had been ornamented with a tangle of rope.

Again, not many yards away was another snuffling and nuzzling at the sand, which it blew aside now and then with a snort which raised a little cloud—doing all this under difficulties, being nearly overbalanced by its load, which had slipped over till it bulged straight out from its side.

Another sat up like a cat, being held in position by its pack, which had slipped over its tail, while again another had kicked till it went down upon its nose, kneeling, so to speak, with its hind-quarters high up, and its load like a pair of panniers resting upon its neck. All this seemed to be too much for Skeeter, who stretched out his neck till his muzzle was in a line therewith, literally shed tears, opened his mouth, distended his nostrils, and with ears quivering, emitted the most startling sound ever heard.

There were other words, but they were confused and strange; but though they did not convey in words the meaning of the seizure, they pointed out what was the matter. For it became evident that Chris was laughing wildly—madly—hysterically, and to such an extent that he had lost all control of himself, and had hard work to keep in the saddle. To make matters worse, the mirth proved contagious to such an extent that Griggs sat looking at him, then at the mules, and back again, with his mouth expanding into a broad grin, while Ned slid off his mustang quietly, held on to the rein, and then lay down in the sand, to laugh in the same uncontrolled fashion.

Gi—give me something—a drop of water. Where are the kegs? All looked round, but no kegs were visible. The pair rode off back along the track littered with their impedimenta, while the doctor and the others began to try and reduce the loads of the mules in difficulty to something like order. But the tubs were not visible, and the pair rode on till they felt that at any moment they ought to be in sight of the enemies that put horse and mule to flight.

Still nothing was visible. The last-kicked-off pack had been passed, but there were no tubs, and the part of the desert where the tangled mass of serpents had been seen was so close that the next minute they felt that they were bound to see the writhing creatures somewhere among the stones in front. But strange to state, their ponies displayed no uneasiness, the tight hands kept upon their reins were not needed, and the docile little animals stepped steadily onward towards the stone-dotted slope and basin.

Why, there were hundreds and thousands all about yonder when the stampede began. They must all have holes somewhere here among the stones. Take care! Then where are the kegs? If we were on a slope I should have thought that they had gone rolling right away out of sight. These stones are very confusing.

Look there! Then I tell you what. We shall have the doctor after us directly to physic us both for not finding them. My word!

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The mule must have galloped round that way when he kicked them off. The idea of getting bitten sends a cold chill all down my back. Poison snakes and mad dogs make a regular coward of me. That would soon scare them off. That would startle them into moving off. Snakes always go back to their holes when the sun sets. I should have most faith in putting a pound of powder and laying a train ready, so that one could light a bit of touch-tinder and get away to a safe distance.

When that went off with a good explosion, I should think the rattlers would scuttle away. So we should. I can throw a noose pretty well. We were beginning to think you very long. Where are they, Chris? The doctor shaded his eyes with his hand and looked across at the barrels, his face contracting with horror at the sight which met his eyes. Worse and worse. But we must do it, I suppose. The snakes will not be stirring during the darkness. But we must hope that when we find the gold region, it will not be such a serpent-haunted spot as this; the gold could not have better guardians to keep it safe.

No one spoke for a few minutes, during which the doctor sat upon his horse watching the movements of the serpents. We had better build up a cairn with some of these stones to guide us to the spot when we come to hunt for it in the dark. Can you do it? They stooped down one at either end of the fragment, some three feet long and one wide, looking squared like a crystal, and as if Nature had taken the first steps towards providing the builder of a house with a piece to form part of a door-post.

When I let my end fall it must have caught it fast. Look at him! Look at him biting at the stone. Eh, Squire Chris? As he spoke Griggs put his hand to his belt, in which a stout keen hunting or bowie-knife was stuck, and drew out the glittering blade. Look, it must be blind. It has battered its head horribly against the stone. Let him do it. We want him to be cool and ready for anything now. Chris eagerly handed his rein to his father, and then went cautiously towards the quivering reptile, which kept on rising up and falling down inert with a regular action, save that it grew more slow.

Chris drew near till he was almost within striking distance, and waited till the snake had risen to its greatest height, that is to say, about two feet above the stone and three feet in all from the sand on which the boy stood. Meanwhile, watching it carefully, the boy had advanced his foot a few inches till he felt that he was in exact striking distance, when there was another bright flash of rays reflected from the glistening blade, as the cut was made and the snake dropped down again upon the stone, for the writhings to recommence.

But before his warning cry was half uttered there had been another flash as of something glistening in the air, and Chris started back again, receiving what felt to be a sharp blow in the chest, while a larger rattlesnake than either of the others dropped back behind the stone and glided rapidly away.

Something wet. He snatched back his hand, to hold it out, for a tiny smear of moisture to be seen glistening in the sun upon the palm of his hand. Thank Heaven! Chris, boy, you have escaped. The danger seems too great. The next minute they had mounted and were riding slowly back to where the others were about to come in search of them, in alarm at their prolonged absence. There was a short, sharp council of ways and means held in the soft evening light which bathed the sterile rocky plain and the distant mountainous land with a weird beauty, that made those who gazed around feel a sensation of wonder, that nature could spread such a mask over a scene whose aspect to the adventurers was full of the horrors of thirst, and death by the stroke of the venomous reptiles.

Close at hand, and showing no disposition to stray, were the horses and the mules, with their coats bristling with dried sweat, and the dust through which they had travelled. Their packs remained untouched, for every one felt that it was impossible to stay where they were, while before starting afresh water was an absolute necessity—a draught each to allay the feverish thirst, and the contents of one keg carefully divided so that about a pint each could be given to the wearied beasts. Look at your horse: he cannot carry you right up yonder for miles upon miles in the state he is in.

What do you say, Bourne? Our party is small enough as it is; we must not make it less by letting one of our most active members break away. After the whole party is refreshed, we must strike up into the hills at once and search the valleys till we find a fall or spring, but on no account must we separate.

We have water a few hundred yards away. If I am to die, it shall be a decent death—not stung by some horrible reptile. The only thing to be done is to contrive some way of getting the kegs here without risk. For I must own that I cannot without horrible risk. Do you, Wilton? So you see, Mr Bourne, it lies between us two. We must try some other plan.

Let me have a bit of the fun. Now how would it be if to get quite soon enough you got out your bottle and gave me a dose of that stuff before I started? I would not venture upon such an experiment except with a bitten subject. Griggs brought his right fist down into his left hand with a loud spang , uttering a low hiss the while, for there was not a scrap of wood in sight.

Then his face lit up and he went to the mule laden with the tent, cast loose a rope, and ran an iron ringed peg about two feet long off from where it had been placed for safety, and walked off amongst the rocks till he found a crevice suited to his purpose. There he thrust the thin end of the peg in between the sides some six inches, and exerting his strength a little, bent the iron round till the lower part stood off at right angles to the upper. This done, he raised the iron, placed the point upon the surface of a level block, and pressed heavily down, the point yielding slowly, and, the iron being fairly soft, he very shortly produced a roughly-made hook.

Did any one notice whether the chain lay at the top? So that it would be quite easy to catch. The next minute he was striding along over the sand in and out amongst the scattered blocks of stone, and followed by his friends, cautiously on the alert for any reptiles that might be coiled up asleep. But it was past their time; the sun had gone down, and the dusk of evening was rapidly growing into darkness, showing the party that if they had waited until a lanthorn was necessary there would have been great difficulty in putting into practice that which in theory sounded as easy as drawing on a glove.

Griggs turned quickly, shook his head to indicate that the coast was clear, and then turned back to face his task. The next minute they saw the deftly-thrown hook flying through the air, describing a curve, and the rings of the rope opening out as they followed the iron. There was a loud jangling sound, and Chris held his breath as he saw the operator begin to draw upon the rope hand over hand, fully expecting to see a check, and that the hook had caught.

That was the jerking of the rope to set it at liberty to be drawn in again, for the simple reason that the catch was only the corner of a rock. But Griggs was soon ready again, and he mounted on to the top of a stone before taking careful aim, as he swung the hook to and fro, and then once more launched it through the air, to fall this time with a dull sound as if it had struck upon wood. For as Griggs hauled there was again a check, evidently, from the sound of the iron, against wood.

Away went the hook, and after it the dimly-seen coils of rope, followed by a sharp clang again of iron upon stone. The boy strained forward as if ready to start at the first call; but he did not, for no call came, but Griggs himself began to move sharply after a tug at the rope, and then leaping down from the stone upon which he had stood, he came running towards them swiftly, dodging in and out amongst the stones standing in his way.

All turned at the order, retreating steadily to allow Griggs to overtake them, which he did directly. I could see dozens of them striking at the barrel and the hook at that last throw. We shall have to bring a light to find the end of the rope and see that there are none of the reptiles hanging on to it. The hour seemed long, and then with a dull star-like lanthorn Griggs began to pick his way through the transparent darkness, holding the light low in his lookout for enemies, till the end of the rope was found, though not without difficulty, the boys, who led one of the mules between them, having to stop at last and wait till the search came to an end.

Now then, turn. Back him a little more. If the thick border has enough microtears or one large tear, the inner jelly-like substance can squish out of the tear to either chemically irritate or physically compress the spinal nerves that exit the spine off of the spinal cord. How is this complicated anatomy relevant to yoga , picking up a piece of paper off the ground, or even bending over to brush your teeth? Lumbar flexion is the movement of bending forward at the low back while rounding the spine.

Due to the lordosis lumbar curve , this position of flexion increases the likelihood of intervertebral disc microtears which then increases the chances of disc irritation, bulging, and most severely, herniation. A disc injury is one you most definitely want to avoid as they are hard to recover from and they increase your chances of low back injury recurrence; never mind the fact that they cause a lot of pain and can cause symptoms severe enough to require surgery due to neurological complications.

You must now be wondering how to keep your back safe while bending forward either on your mat or in your activities of daily living. When you bend forward, think about keeping your buttocks out and maintaining the natural curve in your lumbar spine. When you are standing straight up and when you bend forward, your lumbar curve should not change shape much.

Hinge forward at your hip joints instead of at your lumbar spine. If you have to pick something up off the ground, the best way to do it is to both flex your knees AND keep you buttocks out to maintain your lumbar curve. These principles apply to yoga as we bend forward quite a bit while on our mats. The repetitive action of improper forward flexion is dangerous, so be aware of your lordosis while you flex forward in poses while on your feet, on your back, or on your buttocks.

This is even something you should think about while sitting at work; if you slouch through your lumbar spine, you are loading the discs which in time leads to microtears.

Understand your lumbar lordosis as it is your power position in everything you do. Take care of your back by being aware of how you flex forward and never compromise your back to reach further on your yoga mat. With a passion for integrative, holistic healing, Dr. Taping, Functional Movement Systems?

As a health expert whose education content has been featured in leading magazines such as The Oprah Magazine, news segments, corporate media products such as Air Canada? Cupido travels the world leading health-focused lectures and workshops. Her passion lies in her desire to contribute to the improvement of individual health at the deepest level so as to effect positive change upon our planet. Carla Cupido has lectured at various venues including the University of British Columbia. She is the owner and director of Baseline Health? She has been interviewed as a health specialist on CTV News and has been published in numerous leading sport magazines and has had a number of case-studies published in peer-focused journals.

Travel down a new road with Gaia, a member-supported conscious media company. And much of this appears to be true: yoga can lower your blood pressure, make chemicals that act as antidepressants, even improve your sex life. But the yoga community long remained silent about its potential to inflict blinding pain. Jagannath G. Pattabhi Jois and Bikram Choudhury. The problems ranged from relatively mild injuries to permanent disabilities. In one case, a male college student, after more than a year of doing yoga, decided to intensify his practice.

He would sit upright on his heels in a kneeling position known as vajrasana for hours a day, chanting for world peace. Soon he was experiencing difficulty walking, running and climbing stairs. Doctors traced the problem to an unresponsive nerve, a peripheral branch of the sciatic, which runs from the lower spine through the buttocks and down the legs.

Sitting in vajrasana deprived the branch that runs below the knee of oxygen, deadening the nerve. Once the student gave up the pose, he improved rapidly. More troubling reports followed. In a prominent Oxford neurophysiologist, W. Ritchie Russell, published an article in The British Medical Journal arguing that, while rare, some yoga postures threatened to cause strokes even in relatively young, healthy people.

Russell found that brain injuries arose not only from direct trauma to the head but also from quick movements or excessive extensions of the neck, such as occur in whiplash — or certain yoga poses. Normally, the neck can stretch backward 75 degrees, forward 40 degrees and sideways 45 degrees, and it can rotate on its axis about 50 degrees. Yoga practitioners typically move the vertebrae much farther. An intermediate student can easily turn his or her neck 90 degrees — nearly twice the normal rotation.

Hyperflexion of the neck was encouraged by experienced practitioners. Extreme motions of the head and neck, Russell warned, could wound the vertebral arteries, producing clots, swelling and constriction, and eventually wreak havoc in the brain. The basilar artery, which arises from the union of the two vertebral arteries and forms a wide conduit at the base of the brain, was of particular concern. It feeds such structures as the pons which plays a role in respiration , the cerebellum which coordinates the muscles , the occipital lobe of the outer brain which turns eye impulses into images and the thalamus which relays sensory messages to the outer brain.

Reductions in blood flow to the basilar artery are known to produce a variety of strokes. The majority of patients suffering such a stroke do recover most functions. But in some cases headaches, imbalance, dizziness and difficulty in making fine movements persist for years. Russell also worried that when strokes hit yoga practitioners, doctors might fail to trace their cause. A healthy woman of 28 suffered a stroke while doing a yoga position known as the wheel or upward bow, in which the practitioner lies on her back, then lifts her body into a semicircular arc, balancing on hands and feet.

An intermediate stage often involves raising the trunk and resting the crown of the head on the floor. The woman was rushed to the hospital. She had no sensation on the right side of her body; her left arm and leg responded poorly to her commands. Her eyes kept glancing involuntarily to the left. Nagler reported that the woman also had a tendency to fall to the left.

Why might I need a laminectomy?

View all New York Times newsletters. Given the lack of advanced imaging technologies at the time, an exploratory operation was conducted to get a clearer sense of her injuries. The surgeons who opened her skull found that the left hemisphere of her cerebellum suffered a major failure of blood supply that resulted in much dead tissue and that the site was seeped in secondary hemorrhages.

The patient began an intensive program of rehabilitation.


A few years later, a year-old man was rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, in Chicago, complaining of blurred vision, difficulty swallowing and controlling the left side of his body. Steven H. Hanus, a medical student at the time, became interested in the case and worked with the chairman of the neurology department to determine the cause he later published the results with several colleagues. The patient had been in excellent health, practicing yoga every morning for a year and a half.

His routine included spinal twists in which he rotated his head far to the left and far to the right. Two months after his attack, and after much physical therapy, the man was able to walk with a cane.

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WE WERE MEANT TO BEND  Avoid the Perils of Back Surgery WE WERE MEANT TO BEND Avoid the Perils of Back Surgery
WE WERE MEANT TO BEND  Avoid the Perils of Back Surgery WE WERE MEANT TO BEND Avoid the Perils of Back Surgery
WE WERE MEANT TO BEND  Avoid the Perils of Back Surgery WE WERE MEANT TO BEND Avoid the Perils of Back Surgery
WE WERE MEANT TO BEND  Avoid the Perils of Back Surgery WE WERE MEANT TO BEND Avoid the Perils of Back Surgery
WE WERE MEANT TO BEND  Avoid the Perils of Back Surgery WE WERE MEANT TO BEND Avoid the Perils of Back Surgery
WE WERE MEANT TO BEND  Avoid the Perils of Back Surgery WE WERE MEANT TO BEND Avoid the Perils of Back Surgery

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