I am learning to walk again.
Physical therapy has begun in earnest and I am in the second month of a string of months. The original goal, like so many other goals before it, has been moved back another month. I have missed all the hiking I had hoped to in my beloved deserts before the summer rages in and scorches the canyons. I cannot go swing dancing and lose myself to Django Reinhardt on the floor.
At this moment, after 102 days, I cannot stand to have my left foot in a shoe for more than an hour.
I don’t know the precise moment when I realized I had to learn to walk again. It crept up on me, easy prey that I am. It may have happened after a particularly painful but necessary PT session where my Achilles tendon was forcibly loosened. Pain that meant I couldn’t sleep; that I was wishing I had taken the prescription morphine I was offered when I first injured my foot.
I take my victories where I find them. When I started physical therapy, I couldn’t point my toes. Two weeks ago I wiggled my big toe – and the entire PT practice cheered. Pointing my left foot is almost at the level of where it was pre-injury, a point of pride for my dancer’s feet.
While I was in far less pain this week, my prognosis was not as good as I’d hoped. It was the first time that the PT wasn’t happy with the level of swelling, and ordered that I take the next day off from my exercises. Walking the ten feet between one therapy table to another was less of a challenge, but my ankle bows noticably inward. Because of the additional strain on my arch, until – and if – it’s corrected, any long walk is off the table.
From the time I injured my foot, I’ve been mostly patient with it. I skipped to acceptance as fast as I could because I knew that dwelling on what could have been was the path to more pain. I chose to bend like a reed in the wind instead of resisting my situation. I directed my focus to what I could control. I made my suffering as optional as I’ve been able.
Healing hurts. Putting yourself back together, in any sense, is brutal. You’ll feel better later, but not now. Not for a while. Some things can’t be put back together.
Some things are put back together with scar tissue and sinew, and blood and bone.