I realized today that it’s been exactly eight* months since I had surgery on both my feet. The fact that I even noted this milestone has very little to do with my stellar significant date recall, and much more to do with the ongoing saga of confirming, communicating, consolidating, and paying off the medical bills with “date of service, 3-19-14” listed at the top of them all.
I’m not even sure that this warrants a post of its own, but I have been thinking about my feet a lot lately – sometimes with great impatience – and maybe it might be helpful for me to put a little more thought into where I was eight months ago, and where I am today.
This week the weather took a pretty serious nosedive towards a winter that’s still over a month away. That, coupled with the number daylight savings time did on my afternoon sunlight reserve, has forced me indoors for physical activity. In past years I’ve ramped down a bit in the winter, letting my body settle more fully into the seasonal changes – hibernating just a bit. But this year I’ve been more reluctant to do that – I spent all of spring unable to walk much at all, my summer was spent in physical therapy teaching my feet and toes to bend again enough to walk without pain, before running again, and my fall was spent chained to a desk full of study materials. So now when I should be settling into a good book and the couch, I just want to stretch and move and run.
We joined a nearby gym / rec center this fall, and for the first time in ten years I’ve had a place to go indoors to workout. I’m grateful for this option, but when I set out to run three miles last night, I quickly realized that was thirty-three laps around the track. Want to know how exciting thirty-three laps are? Slightly more exciting than running in place on a treadmill, but considerably less exciting than actually running on pavement in a park. Considerably less.
Three miles is comfortable to me now. I started running again – in tiny quarter mile stints at first – back in mid-July. It was slow, and I really had to concentrate on my form and do a lot of extra toe exercises to increase my mobility there. I’ve seen the x-rays of my feet – there’s some serious hardware from my big toes all the way down to the center of my feet. I’m sort of amazed that my toes can bend at all. By September I was comfortably doing four to four and a half miles, but after that point my toes would start to complain. And then in October I dropped a table on my right toe, and everything regressed yet again. I developed an infection and started a serious round of antibiotics. I’m also using this really expensive, non-insurance covered nail lacquer that might help save the toenail that changed from purple to black this week. At the very least, I’m trying to keep the toenail in place to act as splint so that a new nail will grow in correctly. The nail bed no longer hurts, which is great, so I’m back to running again. Inside, on a track, round and round and round again.
Eight months ago tonight, I was experiencing the worst physical pain of my life. I’m not excluding childbirth either. Or wisdom teeth extraction. Or the way my scalp feels when I let the little one fix my hair “like Elsa”. Tonight I soaked in the tub and looked at the scars on my feet. They are fading, but still very obvious to me. I remember the way it felt to not be able to walk on my own – even if it was for a short, finite amount of time. I remember what it felt like to not be able to take a shower or soak in the tub for seven straight weeks. I remember how it felt to put on real shoes again after two months, and slide behind the wheel of a car again, and slowly increase from a steady walk to a slow jog on a level path. I’m grateful for so many things this year. Especially these eight month old feet, bruised and battered as they are.
*Updated to correct my math – eight, not nine!