My left foot is propped up on a pillow, and getting better after surgery last week to repair my hammertoe and that nasty tendon attached to it.
It’s my fourth foot surgery. I’ve had two other hammertoes and I had the bunions done on both feet eighteen years ago.
Hammertoe surgery is not a “glamorous” one. No new unlined face, lifted eyelids or smooth neck. But, this is the kind that liberates me back into a choice of footwear.
More important, no more pain and no more stash of Dr. Scholl’s toe pads in my handbag.
It wasn’t the ordeal of the surgery that plagued me. I was adverse to the downtime of healing. Six weeks? In that Velcro shoe-thing?!
“It’s the torn tendon,” the doctor told me. “It’s added to the recovery.”
I thrive on dashing about. It fuels me. Relax? What’s that? The days leading up to the surgery you’d think I was going to the gallows. I took spinning class, yoga, you name it. I bought enough food for an army. Bought outdoor plants. And, when it wasn’t raining, planted them and fed the garden. Met with my mother’s tax accountant…
High anxiety. I knew what I was in for – a lot of lying around. I’m not good with lying around.
I’m a real sight since the surgery. I lost a front tooth – that veneer in front that they couldn’t straighten when I had Invisalign five years ago. It chipped on the breathing tube during surgery. Pay attention when the anesthesiologist asks if you have any loose teeth or implants. How did I forget I had a veneer front and center?
I look like Lucille Ball in a comedy bit. But, a visit to the dentist and an hour with the drill to remove what remained of the chipped veneer (no problem, foot was up on the chair) and viola, a new “tooth” in just 14 days. The cost? Don’t ask.
None of my pants fit over the bandage so I am living in workout clothes in that stretchy fabric that attracts all things lint. Tucker, our dog, keeps close but his fawn-colored hair grabs onto these legging things. I try to keep it at bay with a lint roller, but I’m a hairy mess.
Without the crutches, I hobble when I move using only the heel of my left foot. Somehow, I can’t find the right shoe in my closet that is compatible to the height of the boot, and my gait is just short of a prisoner with a ball and chain.
Hank aired me out, taking me to the movies several days after surgery. I washed my hair in the sink and found a pair of pants to fit over the bandage and threw on some bronzer and nude lipstick - didn’t want to draw attention to the missing tooth, you know…
I was feeling pretty snazzy. That feeling didn’t last long, though, as soon as we were on the street. Tentatively moving forward on my crutches, Hank beside me, cautious not to walk ahead of me on the sidewalk, I could sense the hold up behind us. We stepped aside, the couples whizzing by on this Saturday night.
Unaware, a woman in high-heeled boots, feeling “all that” grazed my crutch with the chic yellow handbag swinging carelessly off her shoulder.
My boring, sensible cross body bag fell forward as I gripped the crutch to steady myself. I felt feeble.
The theatre was below ground. No escalators for me. “Where’s the elevator?” Hank asked. I silently thanked all those modern building codes for wheelchair access.
The theatre was an I Pic with reclining seats. “Look, Heath,” Hank said. “I got us the back row." Foot up. All good.
“Want a drink?” He asked.
“I’m terrified I’ll never get up if I do!” I laughed. “Oh, to have a martini and swing my legs on a barstool…”
I’d felt vulnerable out there on the street. What an easy prey for someone to snatch my handbag, or worse, accidentally step on my open-toed boot with my line-up of stitches yet to heal.
I’ve heard people say to have gratitude. To be thankful that you can walk, ride a bike, even run.
My first night after surgery, I eyed the walker and the set of crutches in my bedroom…
“Be thankful,” my friend, David, had said during a Soul class. “That you are here. On a bike that you can pedal.”
“It’s a bitch,” my mother, confined to a wheelchair, has said. “I miss being able to just hop up and move things around in my room. Adjust a painting. Water a plant.” Adding: “It feels as if everyone is on the jet plane and I’m on the bus.”
In the scheme of things, this is baby business, my foot. But, something happens to you when you’re lying around.
And, what you think about, sinks in.