ALL OVER BUT THE WHINING

Faye and her orthopedic boot. This boot is not made for walking.

My latest book, HALLEY,
Awarded 2015 Jefferson Cup Honor for Historical Fiction.
Awarded 2015 Moonbeam Silver Medal for Young Adult Fiction.
Awarded 2016 Frank Yerby Award.
Available at: NewSouth Books: www.newsouthbooks.com/halley and Amazon

Back in the Eighties I had hammertoe surgery, which I assumed would take care of all my foot problems forever.  No, the doctor didn’t actually promise that, but there are some things you just assume.  So when my left little toe began to fold under the toe next door, I refused to acknowledge it until it felt like walking on a rock. Anyway, I told myself, someone who had put up with the misery of three inch heels and dangerously pointed toes back in the Sixties could live with a mere straying toe. I wasn’t going to whine.  I despised whiners. I could take this.

But, no, apparently not.  Since I can’t even bear a tight belt now, why did I think I could bear walking on my own toe all day long, every day?  So two months ago I went to the orthopedic surgeon.  “I can fix that toe,” he said.  Then he said, “You have a bunion on this same foot.”

Really?

He grabbed the toe and moved it.   “Doesn’t that hurt?”

“No,” I yelped, jerking my foot back.  “Not much.  Not enough for surgery. Not now, anyway.”

“It soon will,” he said.  “Why not take care of it at the same time?”

“Sounds like a good idea to me,” my husband said.  I had made the mistake of having him accompany me.  

I glared at them both.  

“Same recovery time,” the doctor said.

“I guess I will,” I said.

The doctor’s assistant gave me pages of information about surgery and recovery and I vaguely recall the mention of a scooter for six weeks.  But I’m sure there was not a word about how difficult it would be to lift the wheels up and over the high thresholds of our century-old house.  No hint of having to back the blamed thing up to make it around tight corners.  No warning about slamming the “good foot” into the bedpost and breaking the right little toe.  And there definitely wasn’t one word about having to do this at two-o’clock AM when I was still half asleep and desperately trying to make it to the bathroom before my bladder exploded.

Thoughtful wife that I am, I did not risk waking my husband by turning on the light and thereby actually being able to see the threshold, which I believe had risen an extra inch with nightfall.  When I slammed into it, I discovered I didn’t have a tight grip on the handlebars. And when I lifted the scooter up a foot and a half over the threshold and turned a sharp right to go into the bathroom, all hell broke loose.  I went airborne and landed rear-end-first on the tile floor.  Then my head crashed into my husband’s desk.

To heck with thoughtfulness. I called, “Benjamin!”

Lulled by the hum of his sleep apnea machine, my husband snored on. (Contrary to popular opinion, it is possible to snore while using these machines.  In fact I think it increases the volume.)  So, unaided, I pulled myself up by clutching the desk.  I found the scooter and managed to roll to the commode. There I had to figure out how to transfer one-legged to the pot while at the same time pulling my gown up and my drawers down.  It can be done, but forget dignity and grace.

Turning on the light, I examined my injuries.  There was no blood, but my right little toe was purple and throbbing.  My tailbone was screaming.  My head was pounding and sported a knot the size of a lemon. And the return trip was yet to come.

Turning out the light was my first mistake.  The bedroom was now dark as a dungeon.  I didn’t see those slits of light around the slats of the bedroom window, so I took it slow.  I bumped into what I knew had to be the chest of drawers, and wasn’t that the bench at the foot of our bed?  It didn’t feel like our furniture.   It didn’t feel like our room.  It didn’t feel like any place I’d ever been. I was too far from a light switch to verify anything. So I kept rolling—past the foot of our bed, or was it the reading chair?  I think I must have rolled into my closet and then right on into the Twilight Zone.  In fact, wasn’t that the familiar Ta-da-da-da, Ta-da-da-da theme  

Time passed, and finally I ran into what I was almost sure was a table.  I reached out and clutched the arm of a chair and fell off the scooter again. 

Suddenly I saw a glow in the darkness.  Yes!  It was the luminous hands of my bedside clock.  I was sure of it.  I was back in our solar system.  Crawling to the bed, I managed to get in without falling again.

Benjamin rolled over and mumbled, “You need me to help you to the bathroom, honey?”

“No,” I whined.  “I don’t need to go.” 

The doctor took me off the scooter after that and put me into a knee high orthopedic boot.  My husband put a night light in our bedroom.

I’m back in our universe, and I’m almost through whining!

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