Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The prophetic ballerina

On the four week-iversary of my surgery (now nearly six weeks ago at this point), I went to Longwood with my mom. The weather was stunningly beautiful--far more like CA than PA.  That particular week had been a real turning point in terms of my mobility (many people had told me to expect this), so I figured I would pull out all the stops and wander, literally, a few miles and see what it felt like.  (I hope my surgeon isn't reading this.)

If you're familiar with Longwood, I managed to walk the eastern half of the gardens--from the front doors up to the big lake, to the Italian water garden, up through Peirce's Woods, to the DuPont House, and then up to the restaurant terrace to sit for awhile. I wanted to be super ambitious and walk down to the Idea Garden, but I had already reached my limits only doing half of everything.


I didn't doctor any of these colors--this is the actual shade of green when these leaves are back-lit by the sun.


Earlier that day, Erin had checked in with me to see how I was doing.  I don't know why I said this, but I commented, "I have no idea when I'll stand on my tippy toes again.  Just thinking about doing that makes me feel sick--no way is my foot ready for that.  But other than stuff like that, my foot feels great. Good thing I'm not a ballerina, right?  How would a ballerina recover from this??"  (If you're a short person--I'm 4'14"--think about not reaching for things on your tippy toes for six months.  Yeah: exactly.  Ron had to go find his grandfather's long grabber contraption at his parents' house so I could reach things in my own cabinets with less drama.)




The gardens were filling up pretty quickly with people since the weather was so great and they had a few different events going on throughout the grounds.  The wooded paths behind the Dupont House were totally empty, however, except for one person.



As I hobbled along one of these paths with my mom, who had to consciously think about walking s-l-o-w-l-y because my pace is so unnatural, we ran into one person.  She came up behind us quickly in her sneakers and work out clothes, clearly an athlete from head to toe: Not an ounce of fat on her middle-aged body with only the longest limbs of slim muscle.  Towering over me (who doesn't?) and speeding by us, she commented, "Ugh, I had to wear one of those awful shoes for weeks.  Good luck!"  Just as she was going to leave us in her dust, she thought better of it and turned around: "What did you do to your foot?"

Me [glumly]: "I had my bunion removed."

Her: "That's what I did! That's why I had to wear one of those shoes. How many weeks has it been?"

Me: "Today is four."

Her [visibly grimacing]: "Oh. Ok. You're almost there.  Trust me, in a few months you won't believe how easy everything is. You can do all the things you used to do.  All of it.  But, not right now.  Let me tell you something: When you go shoe shopping, I would recommend that you give up everything with a pointy toe.  Don't ever wear a pointy toe again. It's really not good for you.  You'll wear heels again, but you know: be careful.  Really think about whether it's worth it on any given day."

Me: "Oh, I know. I'm already used to wearing flats all the time.  I'm not addicted to heels."

Her: "Right, but if you want to wear them for a night out or a fancy event, you'll definitely be able to wear them, and all that worry that used to accompany wearing them ... it all just goes away. Trust me, you'll be so glad that you did this."



And then she says, "I'm even back to doing ballet, but I've given up pointe. I'll never do pointe again, but I don't worry doing ballet anymore."

OMG ARE YOU FREAKIN KIDDING ME????  I randomly ask the universe--via Erin--"How does a ballerina recover from this??" and the universe sent me a BALLERINA on the same day to ANSWER me??? NO FREAKIN WAY!!!

I'm totally agog at this point in the conversation, but managed to choke out, "You do BALLET???" [Ok, so that explains why *AH HA!* she's built like a professional ballerina!]

Her: "Oh yeah, sure.  But, I know my limits and I'm consistently pain free.  Trust me, anything you want to do, you'll get to do it again.  Good luck! Bye!"

And off she went.

I was so thrilled.  Something out there is listening to my random questions, and the gods were super generous and even gave me a clear, unmistakable answer this time.  The last time I remember that happening was January 2005, so it's been awhile.

Things got even better because we ran into this guy at the Dupont House.  We always look for him inside the house--there's one chair where you can usually find him sleeping.  Even he was outside on this particular day.

A volunteer nearby told us that children routinely ask, "Is he ... dead?" when he lays around like this.

We also found out that his name is Belin or Mr. Belin (named for Pierre DuPont's wife)--he was found in a dumpster on the premises thirteen years ago.


Between this excursion and another excursion the day prior, my ankle blew up like a balloon the following day.  Major downer.  My foot didn't hurt, and I wasn't worried that I had damaged anything, but when your ankle looks like it belongs on a ten-months-pregnant woman, it makes you upset.  I had to spend the rest of the weekend laying around.


I don't think I'm supposed to leave the house with my toes uncovered.  Oops.  That damn sock is so hot though.

Yesterday, all four pins were removed from my foot and then they immediately wrapped it back up: No showering without all of my duct-taped plastic bags, no swimming ... no anything.  BUT, I am allowed to drive now, so that's good.  I have to say, I missed the convenience of going wherever I wanted whenever I wanted this month, but I didn't miss driving.  I would totally hire a chauffeur on a routine basis if I had a ton of money.

Luckily, it didn't hurt to have the pins removed.  I had heard conflicting reports about this: Some people had told me it's totally painless, and others had told me (from second-hand experience) that it makes "people scream like they're having a baby."  I had no idea what to expect.  How can something (four things) driven down the center of your bone not hurt as they're removed?  I couldn't watch as they came out.  Ron watched and when I asked him what it looked like he just sorta shrugged: "I don't know. He grabbed some pliers and twisted the pins around while drawing them out. And *pop pop pop* they just came right out.  I totally could've done it."

Over my dead body.

Things should improve again this Thursday.  Apparently, they're going to soak my foot "in a whirlpool bath" to begin removing a six week accumulation of dead skin on my totally unwashed foot (yup, Laurie: it officially stinks).  And then I think the incisions are double-checked so I can get the ok for getting my foot wet (in the shower and the pool).  And then on Friday, I start physical therapy.  All of the muscles in my foot are totally withered and gone.  There's nothing there in comparison to what I had in June, so all of that has to be built back up. Plus, I haven't flexed my toes in over a month.  I have not flexed my toes in a month. Totally bizarre.

Really, Ballerina Lady? Anything I want?  I hope you're right.

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