Please don’t tell me any national security secrets. Pass along no military troop movement information and refrain from alerting me to where our nuclear weapons are stored. And don’t ever grant me top-secret clearance.

It’s not that I’m not a good American and a patriotic citizen. I am. I get all misty-eyed when they play the National Anthem and, possibly due to my impressive military training, I stand at attention when the flag is raised. I vote. And I would never do anything, knowingly, to jeopardize national security.

But if tortured, I’d spill my guts.

I’ve never been tortured, never had bamboo shoots stuck under my fingernails, never been flayed with a knotty wet rope or subjected to long hours of rap music, but I know my limits. Pain is one of them.

I’ve recently been reminded of just how little it would take for me to tell enemies of the state anything they wanted to know: name, rank and serial number and where the submarines are based, if I knew that.

Since back in the fall I’ve been subjected to physical therapy for degenerative disk disease. That sounds worse than it is, actually. It basically means arthritis in my neck, shoulders and back. Or, put another way, old age is not creeping but running full steam at me. Things ache that I used to take for granted.

Physical therapy is supposed to help. And it does. But as they used to say in Army basic training — no pain no gain.

I have a shoulder, fortunately not the one I use to cast a fly with, that pains me a bit, so I had a physical therapist work on it. I didn’t know it would bend back that far and I didn’t know that my shoulder joint was so closely associated with my tear ducts. And he held it there long past my tolerance zone. At that point he could have asked me for my ATM pass code and I would have screamed it out and given him directions to the nearest bank. He could have taken my car — anything, just so long as he turned my shoulder loose.

And another one, this time a nice, gentle, good-natured lady, stuck her sharp elbow into my left hip joint and proceeded to put all her weight on it. I think she spun around a time or two, added a few weights and invited her associates to pile on top to get the most benefit possible from the treatment.

Had she tempted me with easing up if I agreed to sign over the family farm she’d now be the proud owner of a rocky piece of land in South Carolina.

I always enter the physical therapist office with a can-do attitude, anxious to discover new techniques to allow me to stay on the river for another hour or two before back spasms send me to the truck. I leave in agony, rushing home to gulp down a few painkillers and soothe my aching joints with a heating pad and a cold pack.

I must admit, I have regained some range of motion. I can now cross my left leg over my right knee at an angle that allows me to put on a sock. And I can back out of the driveway without hitting the mailbox, most of the time. I’ll keep going.

But, please, in the meantime, don’t tell me any secrets. I’m not to be trusted.

email: rsmith@farmpress.com