Tuesday, 3 January 2012

My right foot

Over the years, I've developed an appreciation for God and her mystical sense of humor.

God likes to play parlour games, to test the limits of human endurance and suffering.

She's sort of passive-aggressive in that way.

It's as if God were writing a sitcom and we were the buffoons playing the parts. Sheldon and Leonard. Laverne and Shirley.

God likes to give us stuff, then take it away just to see what would happen.

So the person who loves sweets gets diabetes. The runner gets bad knees. The wine lover gets cirrhosis. The reader loses her eye sight.

The writer loses her mind.

My own mother loved nothing more than a brisk walk. Unfortunately for her, by her mid-life, Vera had developed deteriorated discs and she was unable to walk more than a few feet without experiencing excruciating pain. By the end of her life, she couldn't walk at all.

I've seen many other people who are denied life's great pleasures.

The New York Times food writer Craig Claiborne discovered in middle age that his cholesterol was through-the-roof; as a result, he could no longer enjoy a plate of buttered pastries or a bottle of Claret.

The comedian Rick Moranis, of Second City fame, developed a severe case of agoraphobia and anxiety disorder which left him unable to leave his house, thereby ruining his career.

Olympic athlete Mike Nemisvary, who stunt-doubled Roger Moore as James Bond, performing death defying aerial ski acrobatics on film, was just fooling around on the trampoline when he broke his neck, changing his life trajectory forever.

All of them found new ways to define themselves. Craig began to develop heart healthy recipes. Mike, a quadraplegic, drove around the world in a specially-equipped car to raise money for spinal research. And Rick became a writer.

The test for most people is to find new ways to channel their creativity and energy. Alas, some surrender to depression and regret and never make the leap to the next level.

Most of us are not world class athletes or performers; we're like Vera, simply living our lives when some small calamity causes us to change direction, habit or obsession.

As John Lennon famously observed: Life is what happens when you're making other plans.

My problem appears to be my right foot.

It has failed me on numerous occasions, and forced me to rethink most of my activities. Its troubles began on the tennis court when I developed plantar fasciitis, a condition which made it nearly impossible for me to walk for years.

It's a Groundhog Day condition which gets better over a day but blows up again the next morning or after a period of rest. In non-technical jargon, the tissue heals overnight then is reinjured at first light of day. Not much to be done other than a few exercises and orthotics.

My right foot left me discouraged. It took away the pleasure of wearing a finely crafted high heeled shoe. Plantar fasciitis instead favors jackboots.

My right foot robbed me of a nice day on the tennis court, a lovely walk in the woods, a wonderful stroll with the dogs.

My right foot was responsible for my slow slide into obesity.

But it's also challenged me to find creative ways to exercise. It might even have saved me from developing skin cancer from over-exposure to the tennis court or golf course.

When I joined the gym last year, I found a number of machines that helped rehabilitate my grossly overweight person. The rowing machine did what the treadmill could not. Weight bearing exercises helped me start to sculpt a new body.

The gym provided me with new strategies to take back my health and to recommit to activity.

It helped me find new respect for my body for the things it could do.

And it cured my plantar fasciitis once and for all. Yay!

But then the unthinkable happened.

On New Year's Day, I slipped on the stairs and felt something tear in my right foot. The fall has left me unable to stand or walk.

Nothing broken, fortunately, and it's not that painful.

Until I put weight on it. Then I feel pain in my right earlobe.

Deja vu all over again.

So it's back to square. I'll rest this club that's attached to my ankle for few days then try to go back to the gym in search of a new challenge, to find different activities that will achieve the same results as the rowing machine and elliptical -- both of which might be out of my bread basket for many months.

Maybe aquafit.

At 55, I might finally learn to swim.

One thing is sure.

I'm not going to let God get the better of me this time.

I'm going to find other ways to put Rose back together again.

I won't be deterred.

I will shake my fist at the Almighty.

I'll just have to put down the crutches to do it.

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