An Unplanned Absence: I Blame the Walnut

wood chip LK

I love trail running. If you’re not familiar with this activity, it’s exactly what it sounds like. I run on a trail through parks and woods rather than a formal track, treadmill, or other similar surface. We have excellent running and biking trails in the Chicago area, over 200 miles of interconnected paths, and I’m lucky enough to live right near several. I have my pick of trails to run on, including the wood chip trail pictured above. It’s one of my favorite ways to clear my head and burn off some excess energy.

In mid-October, I was running on a cool afternoon and enjoying every breath of the autumn air.  I’d just returned from Florida the day before, and after running in their heat and sunshine, the crisp fall weather was refreshing. Everything was perfect until I came to a patch of trail that was littered with autumn debris. There was a walnut tree nearby, and my left foot caught a walnut, and I fell hard.


Have you seen walnuts right off a tree before? They don’t look like the bagged items in a grocery store! These are not the walnuts that clobbered me, but they are from the same tree. As I ran, I was picking my footsteps pretty carefully, but a walnut was hiding under some leaves and I didn’t see it. Wah!

Long story short, my right arm and hand were out of commission for several weeks, and I’m now the proud owner of several new first aid items, including a lightweight arm sling, a wrist brace, and several finger braces. Here’s hoping I never have to use them again.

It turns out that, in addition to being rather clumsy in the presence of walnuts, I am far more right-handed than I ever realized. Here’s a short list of things my left hand hated doing:

  • Getting the soup from the bowl into my mouth without dribbling half of it all over everything (tomato soup leaves stains, who knew)
  • Turning keys in door locks (which led to me being stuck outside my own home after I went out to get the mail, which in turn led me to install a new punch-pad based entry system — which I *love*, so it’s not all bad)
  • Dialing phones (which made it tricky to order the pizzas that kept me going when I couldn’t use cutlery)
  • Applying makeup (OMG, just forget it unless you want to look like a 3-yo scribbled on your face)

Oh, well. It’s mostly better now, and I’m out of the sling and able to hold a pen again. Still some healing to do, but I’m starting to ease back into my work and pick up the dropped reins. It’s good to be back!

Kayla Drake

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