Making The Bones

Vitality on January 23, 2011

I am reminded every day how appreciative I am for my active life and not taking it for granted. One year ago, eight weeks post-surgery, I had just begun putting weight on my foot  and the story of it is here…..

I live on the Street of Dreams. La Jolla, California. My laboratory is located in the front right corner of the house, windows on the street, and I can see the runners, the cyclists and the folks walking their dogs from here. The laboratory has been assembled for the care and healing of my foot. It’s a sterile place, sans happy hour and friendly crowded barstools at Beaumont’s. The latest musical at La Jolla Playhouse has come and gone without me. The schedule at the gym, at Pilates, at yoga, at the aesthetician, at lunches and dinners has gaping openings where my name filled many slots. My travel schedule came to a screeching halt and my new sports car has been shut in the garage for 4 weeks.

As a child, the concern over my crooked feet was pronounced with a doctor’s order for corrective shoes. Those brown and white clunky saddle shoes would be a trend in years to come but for me as a little girl, it was humiliating.  It was all about the bunions. Mom had them, my grandma Alice too, and down through the branches of the family tree, my inheritance was this painful deformity.  In the Colorado summertime, the swimming pool was the cool hangout and it had a simulated beach, at the water’s edge. When I was 14 it was here that I hid my feet in the sand, hoping no boy would notice the smallish, pinkish bumps on the sides of my big toes. I feel sad now when I see that the legacy of the bunion has duplicated itself in my daughter and even my son. And I dread for them the eventual path that my feet have endured.

Now my feet have become my talismans. They have allowed my ego its heyday. High spiky sexy heels? Ouch. Strappy bare little summer sandals? Hideous. Walk for miles in Paris? Excruciating. Limp around in Gucci boots? Embarrassing.

Without doing my due diligence, I choose a doctor who promises a fix, does his surgical maneuver, I spend a month in pain and recovery, he tells me to walk on it as soon as it doesn’t hurt and life goes on. Until a year later. My right foot at this point had become grotesque. The bunion had reappeared in a new ghastly way and was hiding itself under my second toe until it pushed the poor digit crookedly and painfully upwards now towering over the big toe like David threatening Goliath. Shoes hurt. Movement hurt. Life hurt. But I hobbled on, up until the moment I met the newest orthopedic specialist, good Dr. Copp.  After x-raying my foot and pronouncing it nearly unfixable, surgery was not only immediately required but also he would part with no positive prognosis.

In the last 10 years while I’ve foraged for self worth among the ruins of an erupted malevolent divorce, the smallest things have become way-showers to my resurrection. The gardens outside my window are sanctuary to hummingbirds, white wisteria, orange and black Monarch butterflies, basil, thyme, foxgloves and palm trees. They continue to be the salve not only for healing my past but the genesis of my new love affair with life. This relationship took it’s sweet time, when I could finally climb out of the swamp of self pity and despair and see the moon and the sunset and the sea and the creatures who live there. I’m emotionally, outrageously, over the top in love with this blue-green marble I live upon, the Mothership we call Earth. I’m not kidding! I travel because I want to see her majesty, her mystery, her diversity and her critters. When I step on her skin, it’s a connection with reverence because to me, she’s a living, feeling organism.  This resonant exchange emboldens me as I daily seek grounding, that secure sense of being held and protected by gravity, every speck of me made here and to be left here when I’m gone.

My artistic interpretation!
My artistic interpretation!

I pray for those who mindlessly and sometimes deliberately rape this world for financial gain. For those who detonate bombs that penetrate deep into the earth, those who drop filth into the seas and destroy entire ecosystems. I pray for the wisdom beyond my understanding that will override these acts of horror. And finally, I pray for the patience to wait, to be still, to allow the miracle of making the new bones within my right foot in this very moment because my envisioned future includes every way I can think of to touch and experience our world first hand, up front and in person.

I had to fight Blue Cross for the right to spend the night in the hospital. Following 3 hours of surgery and lying there with my football sized bandaged little foot suspended on ice and pillows; I was in excruciating pain. There was a strange band of 2 inch long blood blisters around my thigh which I’m told was the result of a tourniquet applied to prohibit blood flow during surgery and now, the muscles in my quadriceps are in mutiny. They were in spasm and looked like the movie Alien as they were pulsing just under the skin, trying to find their equilibrium again. I called the nurse for the fifth time; the pain was intolerable. I’m a 3-time veteran of childbirth and never have I cried. Until then. Alone at 3 a.m. in a hospital begging for relief from pain, a nurse handed me a tissue while I sobbed. Within a half hour, Percocet began its nasty conquest and for two more hours, I talked myself through it. In the morning I’d be asked to leave, to somehow get up, get dressed and go home. I had no idea how I’ll be able to handle this, but that drug-informed elusive place deep in my soul assured me that I would.

The Surgeon's Handiwork
The Surgeon’s Handiwork

And now I’m still. Quiet. Confined. Incarcerated. This mutilated foot has now undergone massive trauma, bones sawed apart, screwed together in a new formation, doctors conferring as to how to re-establish the original blueprint of a highly functional foot designed by the Greatest Architect.  It has been a month of ascending and descending stairs one at a time, backwards on my bum. It’s been a month of figuring out how to navigate and I’ve discovered another use for the walker. I’ve learned humility in every form. I’ve crawled backwards on the floor into the shower with trash bags taped around my ankle and I’ve had the miracle of the people I know who have supported me in every way, unasked for but here nonetheless.

Giving for me has always been easy. It feels good, you are able to do it, and you appreciate the opportunity. Receiving is another animal entirely. My kids have been the beneficiaries of my good fortune and my generosity, also my friends, because I’ve felt both compelled and required to ‘pick up the check’ for those who have less than I do. Now, I simply can’t go get groceries. Can’t take Murphy to the vet.  Can’t make sure there’s candy for trick-or-treaters on Halloween.

All I can do is open my heart to receiving. And my little helpless, frightfully scary looking beautiful healing foot has been the portal to one of the most amazing times of my life.

I’ve always been ambitious, over-promise and under-deliver unto myself big dreams and goals. My neurons have created a nice little rut where I love to have intentions, write them down, get excited and ready for the result and then poof. It’s a dead end path to frustration and disappointment in myself. But something this time has been different. This little foot, which has undergone so much derision, abuse and overuse, even anger and embarrassment suddenly has transfigured into a miracle at the end of my leg. I’ve researched bone healing and just what the heck is going on in there, the effects of surgery and pain killers on my system and what to do to support myself. I’ve thought of creating an informational blog to tell people what they need to know that I’ve not been told. I’ve found great healing through acupuncture, chiropractic work and other bodywork and it’s been a wonderful, amazing opportunity to see this process in a completely different light. And this way of being becomes me. It’s who I am, not someone who is a victim, a whining idiot who forgets that she’s among the fortunate who will actually walk again, unlike many others.

Pain relief
Pain relief

I have made solitude my friend and fortress. For 20 years, I’ve been busy, living a life where there is no absolute focus but rather one where I’ve championed being a multitasker. Research now is proving that lack of focus is damaging our cognitive skills and I attest to that in my own experience. To sit still. To do what I intend. To write the book that had been a pariah for me. To breathe life into my heart and soul by the cloak of quietude. To embrace the knowledge that at this very moment, I’m making the bones and I honor this passage into a new more meaningful precious life of moments.

I’ve been literally stopped in my tracks. And time is shaping my future because I’ve left the past behind. The next step I take is the most important one of my life. I have no more enemies. I have no more reasons to not move forward into the vision of my responsible future. Grace is inscribed on the welcome mat of my life.


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