“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” is a quote from William Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet.” Although roses bring joy to many and are beautiful in countless ways, a rose by any other name can also be very dangerous. I recently learned this the hard way.
In the spring of 2011, I planted six knockout rosebushes in my back yard, and, in no time, they were growing and becoming more beautiful with each passing day. This was my first attempt at gardening, so I was proud of this, perhaps minor, accomplishment.
By the spring of 2012, they were almost six feet tall. In fact, they grew faster than Shaquille O’Neal in the spring of ’84. Unbeknownst to me, I was supposed to have cut them back in the winter. We live and we learn.
On February 4, I decided to cut them back. The timing was perfect to trim these overgrown beauties. It was a gorgeous day.
It was like going into a beautiful jungle, sans the monkeys and malaria, of course, although I have been surprised by an emerging cat a time or two.
Because of my military background, I am a stickler for safety; therefore, I ensured I was equipped with my personal protective equipment before embarking upon this important mission. There I stood gazing into the jungle with gloves, eye protection, and long pants with pruning shears in hand. I was ready for the task at hand. Bring it.
Initially, cutting them back proved to be a difficult task, but that turned out to be operator error. Once I figured out how to properly utilize the shears, it was a seamless process.
At one point, as I was hauling the clippings to the wood line “something jumped up and bit me.” One of the thorns had found its way into my knee. I simply said “ouch” and moved on. For the record, “ouch” is a substitute word for this article.
Ten days later, it was the size of my knee that had grown faster than Shaquille O’Neal in the spring of ’84. The swelling was unmistakable but the pain was mild at worst, so I wasn’t overly concerned. I don’t go to the doctor. I’m a man. What can I say?
However, I did find it odd that such a minor incident would cause such trauma to the human body, so I posted a picture of both knees on Facebook so people could compare and contrast, not to mention feel sorry for me. I’m a man. What can I say?
Thank God I did. Within minutes, I had comments, messages, texts, pigeons and and phone calls from doctors, nurses and friends telling me to get to the doctor as soon as possible.
It turns out that a simple prick from a rosebush can be very dangerous and lead to serious infection.
Later that afternoon, I did mosey on up to my local urgent care facility to get checked out by a physician. He confirmed everyone’s suspicions. I was given a tetanus shot and a prescription for antibiotics and steroids and then was sent on my merry way.
I was lying in bed that night catastrophizing about the future of my leg. Surely I had waited way too long to see a doctor. I was going to have to have my leg amputated, above the knee at that.
I couldn’t help but think about the fact that I had three tours in Iraq, totaling 34 months, yet came back unscathed.
The good Lord protected me as I routinely rolled up and down the Iraqi highways on two of my three tours. There were dozens of Soldiers that I knew who’d been seriously injured or worse, and here I was about to lose my leg at the hands of a thorn.
Their injuries were combat related, whereas mine was garden related. It was different.
Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that when I lost my leg, I would still be ok. I’ve seen what some of my Army buddies have been able to accomplish in spite of their missing limb. Their drive would inspire me to adapt and overcome as I’ve tried to do all of my life.
I woke up the next morning and the swelling was down a bit. I was well on my way to a full recovery. My leg had been saved. Thank you, Lord.
The thorn from the rosebush almost lived up to its name by knocking me out, so I’m very thankful for those who cared enough about me to let me know about the severity of a thorn prick and the dangers of gardening.
We live and we learn.
By the way, I just found instructions on how to properly cut back my rosebushes. I think I did it wrong. I’m a man. What can I say?
Jody Fuller is a comic, a speaker, and a soldier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com.