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The Spur

{mosimage}It began slowly, a small patch of weed on the edge of the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea. Able to double its mass within a few days, the plant, called salvinia molesta, spread rapidly. Villagers along the river began to notice. The weed formed into a thick mat. Within a short time it had clogged access to swamp land where the villagers harvested their staple food. Soon the weed mat was up to a metre thick and they were not able to navigate the river, preventing them from fishing as well as traveling to their markets, schools and medical clinics.

The twinge of pain shot through my hip and down my left leg. "Hmm," I thought, "Where did that come from?" It went away fairly quickly, so I forgot about it. A while later it happened again. Again, I ignored it. Within a few days the pain had become regular. Still, I kept thinking it would go away. Then I felt a twinge in my right knee. A few days later, the twinge stayed there. I told myself it would go away. One day, after walking only a short distance, my knee swelled up so much I was limping. A friend noticed and I admitted I wasn't sure what I'd done, but that knee wasn't working properly. She mentioned that when her knee swelled it was because her hip was out of joint. I acknowledged I was having some pain in my hip, but it was on the other side. "Exactly," she said. "Hmm," I thought, and finally made an appointment to have it checked. Sure enough, the problem with the left hip caused my body to try to compensate, damaging the right knee. The pain was obvious, but I had ignored the source of the problem.

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