Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Foot Follies week 4 Can I keep my wit about me?

It seems that I have been hobbling in a boot and wheeling around on a knee scooter,  FOREVER. And yet, it is only 4 weeks.  A time period in which not only my life, but the weather seems to be standing still. Today’s rain and chill are more suitable to April rather than May and plenty of things I should have done by now are still hanging over my head.  Things like spring housecleaning (am I the only one who still tries to do that?) garden planting and ramping up the outdoor exercise routine.

However, this weekend, after mumbling and complaining about how inconvenient a broken foot is, and my sneaky attempts to do stuff anyway, I was reminded that timeframes and seasonal planning and things we take for granted are all forgotten when someone is sick.

More than a week ago, my grandson developed an irritated eyelid that looked like we should have been asking him, “how bad does the other guy look?”  It looked more bruised than infected, but no injury had been sustained. He went on a round of oral antibiotics and that seemed to fix it.

Last Friday, the eye blossomed the same way again, and this time, his pediatrician was taking no prisoners. Being the queen of internet research that I am, I looked up the differential diagnosis for swollen eyelids and quickly realized it wasn’t an insect bite, it wasn’t dermatitis, it wasn’t a stye. All that seemed left was Orbital Cellulitis – a frightening infection that can quickly jeopardize eyesight.

The hospital room was ready, the ophthalmologist was there, and a course of ultra strong IV antibiotics was begun. All this was related to me by phone by my daughter. I had flashbacks of my own son’s horrific hospital trip on suspicion of leukemia and what, as a mother, I went through, watching what my son was going through. The blood draws, the testing. For my son, it was some demented form of mono, for my grandson it was Preseptal Cellulitis – in front of the eye but not in it.

A sigh of relief was breathed by all. Then suddenly, my grandson turned red and itchy from head to toe. It was a reaction to the antibiotic called Red Man Syndrome, which is not a true “allergic” reaction, but rather a result of too much antibiotic being pumped into the patient. The infusion was slowed down, and cool wet washcloths were applied to him. My daughter described it as “controlled panic.”

Then, when a washcloth was placed over his head, this struck my grandson as ridiculous and funny. He began laughing. His laughter was so pure, innocent and genuine that the atmosphere in the room relaxed immediately. He even posed for a picture for his mom, washcloth on his head, both eyes swollen shut, but a big smile on his face.

By the time I got to see him, wheeling with my knee scooter up a ridiculously steep hill from the hospital parking lot to the door, the reaction had subsided. Outside the door of his room, I put on my red nose (yes, Nanny always has a red nose handy) and I rolled into the room to be met with that wonderful sound of a child’s laughter. I sat on his bed with him and we compared his IV splint and my foot boot and declared ourselves “Boo-boo buddies.” We played and colored while a new infusion of antibiotic was started and he had no reaction. There were genuine smiles all around as nurses and doctors checked on him.

The next day he was released with oral antibiotics, just in time to attend his own birthday party, and true to the amazing healing power of children, he ran around, played and laughed all day.

Of course we are all thankful for the quick actions of the pediatrician, the wonders of modern medicine that were able to beat back the infection, and the ability of a healthy not-quite 3 year old to bounce back.

But, I also like to think that laughter played a small, but important part in helping everyone – that “keeping your wit about you” heals the spirit to allow medicine to do its job.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Death By Chocolate

Today I continue my salute to my friend Carol, who left us way too soon. This story is not autobiographical, but was inspired by the friendship and experiences we shared. It is included in my book "A Bouquet of Roses."

Death by Chocolate
Two weeks after her parrot flew away, Rose put the cage in the shed. Looking at it, a huge empty hulk of metal wire, plastic toys, and star shaped cookie treats, just became too sad. She had raised Yankee from a baby, hand feeding him with a special syringe full of baby bird food, carefully filling up his crop. For 7 years they shared morning cups of tea, evening bits of carrots and string beans, and the occasional midnight nightmare. Then, in a split second he was gone.
 She wiped up the bits of birdseed, feathers and empty shells. Now she would never have to do this chore again. She would never have to scrape bird poop off the side of the refrigerator, never have to check her shoulder for tell tale bird marks before leaving the house.
 After doing that, reading a romance novel probably wasn’t the best idea; every protagonist was consumed by desire and passion, weeping with longing or swearing undying devotion and loyalty. To Rose it all seemed foreign, as if she had never read a book before, never watched a romantic movie, never fell in love. It was a reaction that puzzled her, and she tried to explain it to her longtime friend, Alison.
 "That’s love by the book," said Alison. "You know, a fantasy, an escape, it bears no resemblance to real life." She took a long sip of her unsweetened iced tea and clunked the glass down emphatically. "If anyone knows, it’s you and me!"
Rose nodded silently. The two women were mall hopping and taking a dinner break at one of the overly-cheerful chain of bar and grill restaurants that populate suburban New Jersey malls. To others, they might have been mother and daughter, even though Alison looked at least ten years younger than 62. And if she was meticulous about covering her gray roots, Rose didn’t look her age either. But at 44, Rose was feeling the pangs of middle age - if not physically, but emotionally.
 "You and I, we know the truth about love," Alison was saying. "It’s just a way for them to get you. Get you in bed, get you in the kitchen, get you in the laundry room. I don’t even know why you read that stuff."
Rose smiled. The truth was, despite the age difference; the women had shared similar lives. They originally met each other because both their husbands were cops on the same force. As a young mother, Rose had looked up to Alison, who, years ahead of her had already run the gauntlet of being a cop’s wife. But it wasn’t long before the nasty little secret of Alison’s life was revealed. A secret, it turned out, that was pretty common knowledge.
 "Coffee? Dessert?" the overly cheerful server had returned from out of nowhere and was gesturing at the plates in from of Rose and Alison.
 "Let’s do it, what the hell," said Alison. The server disappeared into the crowded, dim room and returned with two cups of coffee and the dessert menu.
 "I’ll give you a few minutes to decide," he said.
Alison reached into her purse and took out a pack of cigarettes. It was Alison’s worst habit, an addiction that meant any time they went out they would be seated in the smoking section, forced to breathe in noxious smoke. Rose had forgotten how much she disliked the smell of cigarettes, how her eyes burned and her throat felt like sandpaper. It seemed to bother her more now, after spending ten smoke-free years with Sean. Ten whole years had passed since his heart spasm, his hospitalization and his doctor’s dire warning. Ten years that gave his lungs a chance to purge the toxins, ten years for the effects of second hand smoke to fade from nasal passages of their children. And now, he was smoking again, the idiot. The kids came home from visits with him reeking of it - sometimes they would jump into the shower right away to get the stench out of their hair. Their clothes, put in the laundry hamper, soon contaminated everything with the smell. A smell she had never noticed for the first ten years of their marriage - years in which Sean smoked upwards of 4 packs a day and the condensation in their bathroom would often run yellow down the wall from the accumulated layers of nicotine-laced smoke.
Rose realized that she had been staring so hard at Alison’s cigarette that she hadn’t heard a word.
"Look, I know you’re a writer and all that, but somebody ought to write about what men are really like," she was saying. No one was surprised that Alison was bitter, after all her husband, now her ex-husband, had carried on with numerous other women throughout their 24-year marriage. A friend to everyone, he was constantly out doing "favors" for others, while Alison sat home, washing diapers, ironing uniforms and cooking dinners that often were left uneaten.
In the small town where they lived, it was hard for the very visible police officer to hide his indiscretions, and after a few years he seemed to make no effort to do so. There were the casual women, those attracted to and fascinated by the uniform, who were all too willing to listen to his stories of a cold marriage and even colder bed. These were the women who knew theirs was a fleeting affair, some of them were married also, running away from their own chilly homes.
 But at least twice, there was talk of love, commitment, an ethereal "someday" when the miserable trapped cop would be free of his domestic obligations, and hand in hand with the love of his life, would start over. The usual plan was to move out of state, and there were many not-so-clandestine trips to Virginia to scope out the territory and dream big dreams. And all along, Alison quietly raised her three children, kept a clean house and walked around town as if nothing was wrong. For more than 20 years, until the day she found a lump in her breast.
 The doctors all congratulated her on finding it, reporting it, and taking care of it so quickly. The performed a lumpectomy, gave her a course of radiation, and told her they were very optimistic about her prognosis. Everyone, doctors, nurses, friends, family was encouraging and supportive. Everyone except John, who came from a family that ordered caskets the minute cancer was mentioned.
He refused to go to the doctor or hospital with her, ignored her discomfort, and left her lying in the bedroom alone the day she came home - by taxi - from the hospital. It was hurt more painful than all the years of infidelity. Alison swore to get a divorce as soon as she got stronger, and that was what she did.
 "Can you believe who knocked on my door this week?" said Alison. Jolted back to the present, Rose hoped she could pick up the thread of the conversation.
 "Umm, who?" she asked, hesitantly.
 "Who the hell have we been talking about?" Alison waved her cigarette impatiently. "John! And you are just not going to believe what he wanted."
 Rose looked around at the other diners sitting so closely. She wondered if they would all turn to stare if she blurted out the word "sex." But Alison was there before her.
 "Not, THAT," she said, pointing her finger at Rose. "Not exactly. He wanted to move back in with me. Apparently, things are not going so well with Miss Virginia Is for Lovers."
 Rose could hardly suppress the gasp. "Can you even believe it?" said Alison. "He said we could be partners - roommates or some kind of nonsense like that!"
 "Oh no, not that ‘partners’ crap!" said Rose. Alison nodded knowingly.
It was "partners" that Sean wanted to be. He saw no reason for a divorce, a displacement of the children, a public airing of their discord.
 "We could just live here, but live our own lives," he said to Rose. The idea infuriated her.
 "That means YOU live your own life, and I stay here as domestic help!" she shouted. "No, if living your own life is what you want, I want out!" Sean shrugged, not even caring enough to press his point.
 So, the divorce was over so quickly, that even the rumor mill in the small town had trouble keeping up. When the moving van showed up to take Rose and her children to their new home, it created quite a stir. For weeks afterward, as Rose slowly weaned herself off the town, returning library books, transferring prescriptions, she constantly ran into people who would bluntly ask her what the hell had happened. Some of them wanted verification that the rumor wasn’t true, others seemed to take a perverse delight in hearing it from Rose’s own lips. In a way she didn’t blame them, after all the years spent working in the town, she knew there were some who didn’t appreciate her community involvement. Some who thought she was way too involved with her husband’s work, some who envied the accomplishment of their children and some who were waiting to see the perfect couple fall on their faces.
Alison was intently examining the dessert menu, holding it out at arms length. "Why do they make the print so small," she grumbled. "Just to embarrass us?" Rose realized that the print on the menu was beginning to look smaller to her too. Another gentle reminder that she had crossed the border into middle age. Cashiers in the grocery store were calling her ma’am and she had begun examining her face for wrinkles and double chins. Thinking of the "baby weight" she still carried even though the baby was 12, she turned the menu face down.
"Just coffee for me," she said.
 Alison shot her a disgusted look. "Come on, we hardly ever go out, have yourself a treat." It was easy for Alison; she was still as slim as the day she got married.
 "Well, maybe we can split this Death by Chocolate thing," said Rose. Alison smiled triumphantly. "There you go," she said, reaching for another cigarette.
 "So, I’ve been monopolizing the conversation," said Alison as she lit up.
What’s been going on with you, any sign of the parrot?"
Rose shook her head, then answered. "I’ve been reading a lot, trying to take my mind off of it. You know Sean hated it when I read anything." Alison nodded.
 "How you ever got involved with him, I don’t know. You with your writing and all, we know the only thing he ever read was dirty magazines!" The two women laughed conspiratorially. It was true that Sean’s collection of "erotica" rivaled Rose’s shelves full of classics.
 "Yeah, out of all those magazines he probably read three words!" Alison laughed so hard she choked on the smoke she was inhaling.
Dessert arrived, a huge plate covered with chocolate confections of several types. The smiling waiter brandished two dessert forks and ceremoniously placed them, along with two cake plates, in front of the women. "Death by Chocolate, for two!" he declared.
 As he walked away, Alison stubbed out her cigarette and stifled another laugh. "What is he on?" she said, nodding her head in the direction the waiter had gone.
 "You know," said Rose, "I’ve had this really strange feeling that losing Yankee was bound to happen." Alison looked at her expectantly.
 "I mean, it seems as if all the males in my life have deserted me, I guess the dog is next."
 Alison burst out laughing. "The dog is the only one you did right with, you got him fixed."
Rose started to choke on a mouthful of Death by Chocolate. Dark crumbs flew everywhere, as she gasped for breath - tears running down her face. She pounded on the table unable to breath. The waiter came running over, yanked her out of the booth and clamped his arms around her stomach.
 "OK! OK!" panted Rose. "I’m OK!" The entire restaurant full of people was looking at them.
 "I saved your life!" the waiter shouted. His fellow servers crowded around and clapped him on the back. Rose picked her napkin up and tried to clean the chocolate mess off her clothes. Alison was also holding her napkin - up over her face. Finally she peeked over a corner and giggled.
 "Now that is what I call a dramatic exit!" she said. "And its time to make ours."
The two women walked out, leaving a generous tip and a chocolate mess. They hugged each other goodnight in the parking lot and drove home, smiling. Once you survive Death by Chocolate, you can survive anything.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Remembering Carol

Tonight the name of an old friend came up; we lived through some difficult and dark days together. At some point our lives turned in different directions, we each ended up dealing with other difficult times without each other's support. When she passed away, I didn't know, and when I found out I was devastated. Just like the situation with my mother, I didn't have the chance to talk, express love and gratitude, or to say good-bye. Her name was Carol, and she was the inspiration for a chapter in my book, and also a short story called "Death by Chocolate." Tonight, in her memory, I reprint the chapter from my book, "Treading Water," and hope that, somewhere over the rainbow, Carol will look down on me and smile.

Finding Oz

My friend, Carol, insists that at her funeral I will sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I’ve tried to back out of it, first by refusing to discuss the possibility of death – Carol’s, mine or anyone else’s; then by declaring that I would be much too upset to sing anything. “You can do it for me,” Carol insists.

For Carol, getting over the rainbow has meant fighting back from a devastating disease and surgery, followed by the end of a 22-year marriage. At 59, she found herself facing the world alone and unprepared. We spent many summer nights on my back porch, swatting mosquitoes, drinking countless cups of coffee and discussing her career possibilities and financial strategies. We swapped medical stories, comparing her spinal surgery to my thyroid disease and found out that both of us had lost our night vision.

We've even seen the rainbow, arching high over the yard, and we couldn’t decide if it was beckoning us or mocking us.

For me, getting over the rainbow is less tangible. Younger than Carol, but also recently divorced, it is the weight of time that leans on me. Time for my children, time to start over, time to write. For at least 20 years time has been my ally, my guardian, my temptation and my foe. Surely, over the rainbow, time stands still.

The rain fell sporadically in Syracuse. From a drizzle in the city it graduated to a downpour at Chittenango Falls. I sat with the other press trip writers underneath a log canopy, savoring a boxed lunch and the sound of the falls, a few yards away. On cue, the sun broke through just as we were finishing, bathing the waterfall's gorge in light. I stood at the top of the waterfall and looked down into the chasm below. Higher than Niagara, Chittenango Falls is a spectacle at any angle. I longed to hike down the trail, to the bridge way down at the bottom. “Sorry,” said our hosts, “Not enough time for that.”   
So, we piled back into the cars to continue our whirlwind tour of the area, the Erie Canal Museum, the Salt Museum, the reconstructed Jesuit mission, the archaeological dig at Chittenango landing, the Oneida Mansion House built by the religious sect called perfectionists, the Boukville-Madison Antique show – all the interesting and important sites of the area – sites interesting and important enough for us to write about when we got home. Yet, there was something that the publicists had failed to mention.

“Stop the car!” I yelled. My driver slammed on his brakes, almost giving the rest of the writers in the car whiplash. “I have to get a picture!” We were driving through the town of Chittenango Falls and it had started raining again. I shielded my camera lens as I knelt down in the street to photograph the aging, yellow building. Was it the “For Sale" sign that drew me, or perhaps the aging classic cars covered with dust in the big display windows? I stepped back so I could get the entire building in the frame, far enough to see the word painted on the side of the building and the big yellow arrow - “Oz.” Inside the window was a historical road marker, surrounded by potted plants. “Near here,” it read, “L. Frank Baum, author of the Wizard of Oz was born.” I could hardly believe that I was standing on the same ground that L. Frank Baum may have walked on. The writers in the car looked at me with the same strange expression I had seen on the faces of my children when I visited Poe’s grave in Baltimore.

My enthusiasm, however, was infectious. “This is nothing, said my guide. “You have to be here in May when they have the Oz Fest. There’s a parade, and panel discussions; we’ve even had some of the actors who played Munchkins as guests of honor.” It was quickly decided that a side trip to see the old Baum homestead wouldn’t take up too much time.

The house was a big, gray, Victorian flanked by two huge weeping willow trees. An iron gate ran around the property, keeping us firmly on the sidewalk. The giant trees obscured most of the house and I peeked around, trying to figure out which room would have belonged to young Frank. The house was situated directly across the street from an old graveyard and I wondered how this constant view influenced the writer in Baum. I snapped picture after picture as the rain began to comedown again. Wait ‘til Carol sees this, I thought.

We arrived at our next destination, the Americana Village, only slightly late. The village is a collection of buildings saved from the wrecking ball and moved to that spot. I could appreciate the good intent of the project, and the usefulness of the site for weddings and such, but I couldn’t keep my mind off Dorothy, the wizard, and the man who invented them all. That’s real history, I thought.

As we were preparing to leave, the rain slowed, and suddenly, arched over the village’s windmill was a huge rainbow. It seemed to stretch from one mountain to another. This is a sign, I thought as my camera clicked away. I couldn’t wait to tell Carol.

My fascination with Baum and the appearance of the rainbow provided plenty of conversation at dinner that night. The seasoned travel writers teased me a bit, but after all, I explained, I’m a family writer and I love children’s books.

Back in New Jersey, I took my six rolls of film to the closest one-hour developer and paced around my house until I could pick them up. I called Carol. “Its a sign,” I babbled. Maybe I was supposed to move to Syracuse and become the curator of the yet-to-be-built Oz Museum. Perhaps it would be I who returned the Baum house to all its Victorian splendor. And of course, there would be plenty of room for close friends, like Carol; and most of all, plenty of time to spend drinking in the magic of the area. It had to be fate.

I leafed through the pictures nervously, afraid they didn’t come out. There was the marker commemorating Baum’s birth, the dilapidated building proclaiming the way to Oz, the cemetery, and finally the House. The rainbow, however, was barely a hint of its brilliance; I hadn’t had time to set the exposure right. A bad omen, I thought.

Sure enough, several days later, one of the publicists who had conducted the Press Tour called me. “I don’t know how to tell you this,” she said. “I’m so embarrassed.” What followed was a long explanation leading to one point – the Victorian house in my pictures wasn’t Baum’s house after all, it wasn’t even close. Apparently, we had passed the location of the Baum house sometime earlier in the tour. All that was left was the land, the house was long gone. Well-meaning townspeople had purchased the land with the intention of building a museum, but all they had built was a sign that said that the land was now under the care of the cowardly Lion. I felt like someone had just dropped a house on me. I breathed a sigh of relief, glad that I hadn’t yet written any articles for publication about the famous Baum birthplace.

So, I didn’t get over the rainbow after all. But Carol calls me every few days. “Don’t forget,” she reminds me, “You are still going to sing that song at my funeral, even if you don‘t end up running things in the ‘soon to be built museum‘.” I nod silently, knowing that I am probably meant to stay put right here in Jersey. After all, there’s no place like home.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Foot Follies - Day 17

Only two weeks into this, and the mobility issues are driving me crazy. So much that I have done too much, hurt myself, and run back to the doctor for x-rays. Well, that was a scary experience. The podiatrist took much clearer x-rays than the hospital, and the break was very obvious, looking like a yawning chasm that my body is somehow supposed to superglue back together. He gave me 3 weeks to show some healing, otherwise he will order a bone stimulator, which just by name, gave me anxiety. However, it looks to be a machine similar to the TENS unit I have for my hip and shoulder. Not painful, just another reason to remain in one spot.

I speed around on the knee scooter, which is quite a bit of fun. Getting it in and out of the car at the office is not so fun. Until I get it on the ground I have to balance as much as possible on my good leg and one crutch. In the house I am allowed some careful steps to bathroom and kitchen, but use a crutch for any more than that. When I remember.

Thankfully, the boot can come off to sleep and shower. However, getting up to go to the bathroom at night means either crawling there, or putting the boot back on. Then, taking it off when I get back to bed. Just try to undo all those "hook and loop" straps at 3 AM in a quick, quiet way.

The boot itself is becoming furry, as it accumulates more and more dog hair on it. Of course, this had to happen to me in Spring, the time of year when Zelda is at Shed-Level 4, Preparing for Hot Weather. The only level of shedding worse than that is Shed-Level 5 - Earth is Falling Into the Sun. So currently, it looks like I am wearing some mangy apres-ski boot made from the hide of a balding Yeti.

I try to remember to lean on one crutch as much as possible while hobbling around the house or my desk at work. I imagine I am quite a sight as I roll through the parking lot on the scooter, tote bag over one shoulder, and crutch hitched up on the other like a rifle. I imagine a new Olympic Summer sport in which instead of cross country skiing and shooting, competitors knee scooter the trail and then target shoot while balancing on one foot and a crutch.

Sometimes I am tempted to revert back to my old Riflettes days and break out into a killer Queen Anne's Salute with the crutch. But I don't think my bad foot could take throwing the crutch into the air and catching it as I go down on one knee. Not yet anyway.  But extreme knee scootering or a military-style crutch color guard may be in my future. After all, I have previously described my life like this:

"Riding a unicycle on a tightrope while juggling flaming chainsaws. Blindfolded." 

I should be setting some world records soon.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Foot Follies - Day 3

I've been "booted" for three days, and doing my best to adjust and follow doctor's orders. Only minor weight-bearing for getting to the bathroom or the kitchen, and elevating as much as possible. The Love of My Life is taking on the lion's share of household responsibilities, including most of the care taking of the elderly Miss Zelda. During the day, I do get up and let her outside and give her some food and water when she wants. I just slowly hobble into the kitchen and do what I can.

Today was no different. I hobble into the kitchen to give the dog water. I notice how the water is only dribbling out of the faucet. It has been getting worse day by day. It is a new sink, and a new fancy aerator hose faucet. I am annoyed. So, being home and feeling useless, I decide today is the day to fix it.

 I unscrew the aerator at the end of the faucet, and sure enough it is clogged full of I don't want to know what. I clean it, give the dog her water dish, and screw it back on. And screw. And screw. Righty tighty, lefty loosey. Ok, maybe it is upside down. Lefty lefty lefty. No attachment. So I stick my finger in the faucet to feel where the threads are, and they are not at the end of the faucet, but waaaay up it, almost where I can't reach. As I am touching it, it moves. I have never had a faucet where the threads were not carved right into the end of the pipe. I touch it again, and something sails UP the faucet, over the curve and clunks down somewhere near the handle. I turn on the water, thinking the pressure will push it back down. Nope. No water comes out. Not from the faucet anyway. But I hear water flowing somewhere. Under the sink, and onto the floor.

Now I have to contort myself somehow to get my body, complete with booted foot, down to the floor, to open the cabinet and begin scooping the contents out. I reach to the back of the cabinet, and turn off the water. The hot water, anyway. The cold water shut off needs to be replaced and can only be turned by superhumans. I mop up the puddle in the cabinet and the floor and am satisfied that nothing is leaking. But what to do? Call a plumber? Call a friend? Who is home in the middle of the day and doesn't have a broken foot or the flu?

I admit that there is a long history of people getting calls for help from me. Not every day, not every month, but often enough — well — memorable enough, that it is kind of a joke among my family and friends. A great story for my brother-in-law and nephew who had to rescue me when I was stuck in the bathroom window. One for my neighbor who witnessed the famous "boiling paint" phenomena on my kitchen ceiling when he was helping me paint. The time my other brother-in-law had to go to my house to find a spare key to my car because I was locked out in front of my daughter's school. And the car was running. The day another friend came over because I had discovered a cavernous hole to who knows where under my kitchen cabinets. That friend's wife and the police officer who assisted in the "dead" rooster incident. And the granddaddy of all the rescue stories, the night my sister and her neighbors came to rescue me from a bat. In fact, the critter stories are such family lore that I have given them their own chapter in Treading Water.

I ended up calling Jimmy, a recently retired friend who had taken me to the podiatrist to get my broken foot examined. His parting words to me were, "call me if you need anything." 

At first he didn't understand exactly what was wrong with my sink. He, in turn, called his friend who does plumbing work and the mystery began to unravel. It seems that these new fancy sinks, with their pull out sprayers in the faucets don't have aerators that screw back to the end of the faucet. They screw back on to the end of the hose, which threads up through the faucet and has a weight on one end. (Why? I don't know. Probably some Neil DeGrasse Tyson physics explanation*) Unscrew the aerator and not hold on to the hose means it will snap back into the faucet and down the pipe.

The proper understanding of the problem took about 20 minutes of text messaging and pictures. Since I was unable to get myself and my booted foot under the sink to try and re-thread the hose on my own, Jimmy drove over. It took about 3 minutes for him to snake the hose up and for me to grab the end and screw the aerator back on. It is probably going to take a half hour to get all that stuff back under the sink in order. But I am saving that for later, as my foot is killing me.

By the way, the water coming out of the aerator now could probably power wash my deck.

*Magnitudes are in equilibrium at distances reciprocally proportional to their weights.  - Archimedes

Monday, May 1, 2017

Foot Follies – Day 1

Today is not the actual first day of the Smile Side of Life Foot Follies. It is actually day number four of an adventure that started on the evening of Friday, April 28, 2017. Following a busy three-day business trip to a conference in Atlantic City, I arrived home, tired and looking forward to a quiet date night with the Love of My Life (LOML).

 I made a couple of trips back and forth to the car to retrieve my suitcase and other various bags and parcels, and deposited them in my kitchen. I flipped through the accumulation of mail on the table and saw that a package had arrived. Inside was my new garden flag, a lovely drawing of a little orange house surrounded by flowers. Kind of a comic version of my own. I took the flag out of the package and headed toward the front door to go outside and hang it.

 I opened the door. I stepped outside. I attempted to navigate the one step down from my house. It felt like someone grabbed my left leg and yanked it out from under me. In slow motion, as these things usually happen, I felt myself pitch forward, my leg rolling under me, from the thigh down. As the rolling reached my ankle, it turned inward so much that my foot seemed to turn upside down. As I threw my hands out to stop myself from landing on my face, I was aware of the sound of something snapping and cracking under me.

 “That’s odd,” I thought. I came to a stop, on my right knee, with my left leg curled strangely under me. The muscles from my hips to my toes felt overstretched, and I slowly stood up. My left foot didn’t want to support me because it was strangely numb.  “That feels weird,” I thought.

 I proceeded to step over to the garden flagpole, and put the new flag on, all the while noticing a kind of swishing and buzzing in my foot. As I started to go back into the house via the same step I had just tumbled off of, the symphony of pain began.

 It struck so fast and hard that I was instantly nauseous and breathless. Sweat began pouring down my face and I threw myself down on the couch just as I thought I might pass out.

 Dramatic, huh? I am now fully qualified to audition for any production auditioning for “the woman with the broken foot.” If I had thought to snap a continuous run of pictures of my foot, I am sure they would have qualified for medical school study. Suffice to say that the swelling was prominent and quick, looking very much like a hot dog had some how gotten under my skin. A trip to the ER seemed prudent.

 They gave me the “fast track” treatment, wheelchair, icepack, X ray and splint. “Fifth Metatarsal,” they said. “The so-called Dancer’s break.” But, apparently, these days, you don’t get any permanent setting of your broken bones. Just a splint, an ace bandage, and instructions to see a doctor for verification of the break and a permanent cast. Not a great date night for the LOML and myself.

 In keeping with the way these things always happen, it was late Friday night before I was finished in the ER. Thus, immobilization for the weekend and today’s visit to the podiatrist. I was lucky that a recently retired friend was available to drive me to the doctor:

  • Who verified the break.
  • Who congratulated me in not breaking all the way through the bone, because that would have required screws.
  • Who expressed regret that it was the Fifth Metatarsal, a notoriously bad healer.
  • Who expressed more regret that it could up to 12 weeks to heal.
  • Who booted me instead of casting me (yay for sleeping without it and yay for showering without it!) with the caveat that weight bearing, other than a few steps in the house, would be very, very bad.Who expressed more regret on hearing that I drive a stick shift car. Well, not for weeks, now.
For the rest of the day I’ll be on the couch, boot elevated, distracting myself with the Presidential Follies on TV. That show is going to beat my Foot Follies show in the ratings.