Not fancy, but it’s a foot

I was at a public hearing, in which the county commissioners were to consider some important new zoning regulations.

As I hooked up my video equipment and got ready to chronicle the whole thing, some familiar individuals greeted me from the growing crowd.

These individuals have been faithful attendees of such hearings and meetings for quite some time now – so we tend to spend periodic instances together.

They said hello and then exclaimed, “Oh my gosh! You have two shoes on! Congratulations!”

I beamed with pride as I showed them my boring old tennis shoes.

“Yes! Two shoes!” I exclaimed back.

“And oh my gosh, they match!” they responded.

“Yes, yes they do!” I agreed, as we all marveled at my footwear.

I never thought this pair of tennis shoes would be something to be excited about, but at this point of this summer, they are truly something to behold.

That public hearing marked the seventh day (in a row) that I’ve been able to wear an actual pair of shoes since June, after I broke my foot and ankle. And it was a momentous occasion.

In what I’ve termed “The Summer of the Foot,” I’ve learned to use crutches, carry a plate of food with just a finger, shimmy up and down stairs on my back side, coax a load of laundry from one room to another using the end of a stick, slide into a bath tub without breaking any more bones and more importantly hoist myself from a bathtub without breaking any more bones.

I’ve learned how to dislodge a giant medical boot from underneath the brake pedal of a van before hitting a stopped car, I’ve learned where there are places to sit down in a store when it becomes too much to keep crutching while keeping up with a shooting cart that I’ve already launched into action, and I’ve learned how many steps (or hops, or crutch moves) it takes to get up the handicapped ramp at the courthouse.

I’ve learned what businesses are the most helpful to pathetic individuals such as myself and which ones have employees who would probably ignore me if I fell unconscious right in front of their registers.

I learned how to space stools throughout the house so I could sit while doing dishes and have a stopping point to set a glass of water while moving to the table; how to water plants with no readily usable hands; how to use my pants’ waistband as a cup holder; and about the beauty of using old chair cushions as a pillow of heaven while elevating that giant mess.

I learned about the art of swelling – when to be concerned and when to look away; about the magic trick called mind over matter when the Ibuprofen no longer did the trick; and how to force ideas into my dreams so I wouldn’t just wake up and walk in the middle of the night.

And I’ve learned to live with the realization that my love for shoes is stupid. I spent part of my time in a temporary cast on one foot, a shoe on the other. Then I moved to the big boot on the left, a flat shoe on the right. Eventually, after the boot was taken away but the ankle was frozen, I gallivanted around town with just a sock and a shoe. Then I graduated to an open set of men’s strapped sandals that provided no support but did have the ability to wrap around an appendage that was four to five times the normal size.

The sandals – while a blessed and appreciated gift from a friend, who literally gave me the shoes off his feet – were wonderful at first, but after wearing them for weeks, they had taken a life of their own, were filthy and frankly just a sign that my life of wearing fun or interesting shoes has ended.

I am told my bone break “has calcified” and only time with usage will unravel the snake nest of tendons and other cables that make a foot work. So there is hope.

But for right now, the thought of ever being able to wear anything but this sad tennis shoe is unbelievable. I don’t think I’ll ever tap into that pile of footwear I’ve collected over the years. Lonely will be the wedges, the heels, the narrow leopard prints I always referred to as “my good day shoes.”

I’m now stuck with a big left foot, one that cracks, creaks and bangs when I walk. It’s certainly wider than before, puffier than the other and now sensitive to anything that touches it.

“It’s a shoe, though!” my friends from the hearing exclaimed. “It’s not leopard print, but it’s still a shoe! You are making progress!”

And yes, I am. As I look at my left side, I sigh with relief that the past few months are over and I am wearing an old, yucky tennis shoe. At last.

It’s not fancy. . . but heck, it’s a foot.



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