"I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I write and I understand." - Chinese proverb

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


I have always championed the existence of unicorns.  I did not expect that I would one day become one.  It started with a little rough patch three or four inches up from my eyebrows.  I felt it a couple of months ago when I was moussing or gelling or spiking or doing some other unnecessary stuff to my hair; I figured I had hit my head on something but didn't remember (not an unlikely scenario).  The other day, though, it finally registered that this thing should be healed by now, not getting bigger.  Now, it's a hard little knob and feels like what I imagine deer feel after they shed their antlers, but still have nubs (well, maybe not quite that bad).  It's slightly off-center (that doesn't surprise me) but it sure does feel like I'm growin' a horn up there.  Now you'd think I'd be alarmed at this circumstance, and maybe I am a little, but what I really feel is damned.  Damned!!  Damned I say!  I am afflicted!!  Yet again!!  Because there is more than one big knot on my long rope of Weird And/Or Icky Stuff Happening Physically Speaking.

For instance, I never had even the slightest glimmer of a problem with my feet.  I like my feet, in fact.  The soles are tough ("animal" feet, I call them) from walking barefoot on all manner of surfaces and stepping in all manner of stuff, for the last 53 years (I figure I started walking at the age of one).  The toes are long and thin and agile and can grip stuff off the floor so that if I drop a tissue or some dry cat food or a pen, I can pick it up with my foot and not need to bend over.  Somewhat like Gollum in The Hobbit.  Kind of gross if you think of it that way, but cool, too.  You can also see every bone, of which I am inordinately proud; when the rest of me got fat, my feet stayed the same.  Skeletal.  (One day my father, who was sitting in his rocking chair shooting the breeze with my mother and me, suddenly exclaimed "Boy, you've got unromantic feet."  I was a little afraid to pursue this but deep down I think he is right.  Frankly, his own feet are nothing to write home about.  Whatever.)

Now, however, my feet have failed me.  I have these "uh" sounding things going on.  First is a bunion, which is the most ridiculous word I have ever heard.  Like a baked onion.  Doesn't it conjure up something like that in your mind?  It's on my right big toe.  Imagine walking around with a baked onion on your big toe.  There are probably people who can make this problem sound more acceptable.  I can't though.  Anyway, a bunion is a bony growth that may or may not hurt.  Mine hurt.  The outside of my toe joint would get red-hot and swollen and painful to walk on.  Women can easily get them from crunching their toes down into narrow little pumps.  I never wear anything remotely like that, however ("animal feet," remember?) so the deal in my case is simple arthritis.  It did finally get to a point where I asked my doctor what could be done.  He suggested shaving the bone ("cleaning out some of that arthritis") which I did have done (wicked painful), but it was not sufficient so I ended up last winter going for a fusion.
 The idea of a fusion is to immobilize the joint with screws and hardware.  If you cannot bend the body part, it can not hurt.  Also, if you have a fusion on your big toe, it takes a good half-inch or more off the length of that toe.  This I didn't know beforehand.  I've gotten used to walking with a toe that's stiff and immobile, and I fall less (the other toes are so much longer than the big toe that they trip me up) but my foot looks pretty sad to me now.   Pretty frigging sad.

Now, in the spirit of "writing without a condom" (a friend's great phrase) I do have one other thing to disclose about my feet.  That foot, in fact.  Okay, here goes: the middle toenail has a fungus.  Hateful, hateful, hateful thing.  It's sandal season for Pete's sake.  But this is the third time this has occurred in the last 8 or 10 years, so I have a suspicion.  Around 8 or 10 years ago my mother got it in her head to take me and my two nephews on a cruise.  It was way cool!!!  Food, including soft ice cream and frozen yogurt, 24 hours a day.  A large pool, of course, and a hot tub.  Island music always playing in the background.  The "Galleria" where you could get duty-free anything (for ridiculous prices).  Hysterically funny entertainment.  A stop-off in the Bahamas and a day on Coco Cay, the cruise line's "private" island.  Fireworks.  A beauty parlor with an international staff.  

When you're on a vacation like this you want to make the most of it, and you feel quite giddy and devil-may-care anyhow.  So, I got a pedicure in that salon.  Is that enough said?  Now I am on medication for three months and it is necessary to test my liver function while I'm on it.  You can't hear me, but I just sighed.

I certainly won't go into any of the stuff that's happening between my unicorn head and my fungal, fused, unromantic feet.  Suffice it to say that things just aren't what they used to be, and I am not proud.  I try to keep up with it, but at age fiftysomething (oh no, wait, I already gave my age away, didn't I), I do find myself finding myself very nervous about things such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels and fasting glucose, and that's the stuff I can't even see.  Wish me luck.

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