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Monday, June 18, 2012

House Arrest: "So You Had A Bad Day"

A tempestuous weekend at work, combined with a fitful night, leaves me sitting in a haze on this Monday morn—in desperate need of a quiet place where I can curl up and hide away from people. I couldn't blog my way out of a wet paper bag right now due to what I can only describe as mind-fog... a veil so dense I lose sight of the ends of simple sentences before I get there. To worsen my matters, I can't get to my people-less hide-away because of a two week sentence to "bread and water;" a doctor's orders ban on anything resembling climbing/hiking/straining. 

Alas, it seems my ongoing plantar fascitis somehow morphed into a stress fracture. That mess is trickle-down from the lost use of a calf muscle—which is trickle-down from back surgery run amuck—which was trickle-down from a blown disc going on three years ago that also resulted in trickle-down numbness in my foot. 

Trying to stand, let alone, run/hike/climb/bike/balance—walk!— on a numb foot—without a functioning calf muscle—is like having a remote controlled leg that doesn't always do what it's told to do. I was told to get used to it—that it was "collateral damage" to nerves that got whacked when the disc dislocated and smushed up against my spinal cord. 

So I have been living with it, trying to go about the business of doing the things I need to do in order to make life worth living... which you pretty much know by now is/was running, hiking, climbing, biking... you've heard the list. I gave up on running first, as it's nearly impossible to do without a calf muscle, and focused on hiking, climbing and the occasional mountain bike adventure. But, seriously, I can't look at at a runner, especially an old fart like me, without tearing up a little. It's hard to explain the hole; if you're not a "runner" you wouldn't understand. Now I walk, but it's just not the same. It's like eating room temperature ice cream, warm foam with lots of sugar. Yeah, like that.

Of course I'm the only one in the world with such woes, right? the onliest one. Ha! Anyway, I go to the doc tomorrow for some miracle orthopedic inserts. Let's hope they live up to the billing so I can go back to doing the ever-shortening, new and dis-improved list of things I need in order to break into a smile big enough to show off my coffee stained teeth. 

But then "I heard the news today, oh boy," a story about soldiers returning from the Middle East, and it pretty much broke up my little pity party. I was reminded with a "tap" on my shoulder, one that felt like it was delivered with a tire iron, that I'm not the center of the Universe and haven't been since mom and dad spat me out of their house. Sometimes "TV wars," the one's we get to watch from our living rooms with popcorn, don't convey the wretched details. Maybe we are getting desensitized, like we're watching an old WWII movie. And why not, after all there's a coffee table and family dog between us and the war de jour... a nice little reality filter, so we can go to sleep at night and not have nightmares. Our TV wars have become "soft porn" versions of the real thing, akin to a fire cracker, whereas the real thing is an IED that packs the destructive, limb shredding impact of dynamite. 

That bullet-point was driven home last year at the Hot Springs Pool... as in "Full Metal Jacket" straight through the heart. A group of Marine Vets rolled into the pool; they came in wheelchairs and on crutches to soak and frolic in the shallower hot section. Heavily tattooed with "Semper Fi" and such, they were all missing limbs— from a single leg or arm, to both legs, to one guy with neither legs nor arms, just stumps which he managed to motor around on. 

It was all I could do to hold back a sudden reservoir of tears. I knew tears were the last thing these brave young men wanted or needed, so I bit down hard on my lip, took some mighty deep breaths and put on my sunglasses.  

If you ever want to get out of your own selfish little pea brained head—depart your highly unattended egocentric pity party—reorder your self indulgent priorities in life... all your fucking goals and ambitions and bucket lists and plans and so on and so on and so on... and do it in one split second, go have a conversation with a soldier who laid everything on the line for his country, his arms, his legs—His Life, and watch your difficulties go up in a useless trail of pitiful smoke. 

At least I have legs and arms and an unscarred body that, for the most part, works. Gee, I feel my "fog" lifting. I think being grounded for two weeks isn't such a big deal after all. I think my limp less important... my pain trivial... my sadness wasted... my "haze" self imposed... My Self, selfish... my ego, off-centered, off-mark, off-putting, offensive. Shame on me.

It's all "relative," folks... Everything is relative!  

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  1. Go read "Skinny Legs". Brilliant insanity doesn't always have sentences that end. "Skinny Legs and All" are one of the few hardback books I have kept, so I loved reading about your experience with "Jitterbug Perfume". Just found you recently so am checking you out and your words captured me. Thanks

  2. Sorry about your injury, Mark. I hope you recover, quickly. I'm facing back surgery, myself.

    As to thanking our service men and women for their sacrifices, I suggest donations to The Wounded Warrior Project.

    I give a monthly amount. In my opinion, EVERY American who can afford to eat out once a month should be donating. I believe it's OUR DUTY as we are the people for whom they sacrificed.

  3. I've had to put on my own sunshades to keep me from chocking up from your observations of the veterans of war. You have put things into perspective well.

    I hope you had a great Fathers Day.

  4. Mark, are you sure you can't reduce the nee.d for a calf muscle when cycling? how about putting a spacer on the bad leg's pedal, and then pushing down on the heel rather than the ball of the foot. It's seems like that would take the calf muscle out of the equations.

    At any rate I think you've done a great job of making the best of a bad situation.

  5. Walden Creek Rv steveJune 18, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    Damn-- Mark - I just cannot understand how you could have a STRESS fracture-- where oh where could you have put stress on your legs?????????????????????? I know this is like asking the Mississippi river to just please turn around and flow north-- but you need to rest!! take care buddie!

  6. Good luck, Mark. I'm at six weeks and counting, myself, and it may go into three months at this point. I do understand how you feel, and am about to go stir crazy myself. The days go so slow and it seems like the progress is even slower. But compared to the guys you mention, it's nothing. Hang in there, two weeks will pass and you'll hopefully be better.

  7. Ouch! I feel for you man. With stress fracture, best to take it easy for awhile. Good time to get into the water painting or finish that book we are waiting to read. Try to enjoy the new arch support shoes which should take some pressure off that heel.

  8. As the wife of one who could have been in that group at the pool... only Airborne, not Marines... I say Thank You! And especially since he's one of those Vietnam Vets who still carries that feeling of "no homecoming" in his heart.

    However, in my Hubster's case, he realizes how disgruntled any person can be if some physical thing is keeping them from doing something they love and enjoy as much as you obviously enjoy a good hike in the mountains! He would definitely wish you a speedy and full recovery ~ and I do too!!!

    And just btw, I did a blog and it oddly happens to be about the Hubs!


  9. Definitely stay off the foot if it's feeling numb as you could wind up doing more damage. I get cranky too when I can't exercise. Maybe you could swim or use a knee scooter to get around for awhile. Take it easy. McBe

  10. You've certainly put this into perspective and I thank you for the reminder. I've been whining about a bad shoulder for a while and need to remember others much worse off than myself. Yet we also earn our aches and pains by the lifestyle we've chosen. What young person really thinks that their injurious adventures will bite them in the butt later. Hope you can allow healing with a peaceful mind.

  11. Walden Creek RV steveJune 19, 2012 at 8:35 AM

    NOTE-- 47 flags

  12. Mark, good luck on getting your leg fixed up right. You sure put it in perspective though. Not hard to look around and see others worse off but it still doesn't take away from our own trials!
    Incredible shot of the buck in the doorway!

    Take care,

  13. Sue,
    Yes, I read Skinny Legs... a riot.
    And I appreciate your kind words :))
    Welcome to the Ever Changing, Photo Anchored, Sometimes Ridiculous-Sometimes Infectious Box Canyon Blog.

    Thanks for that link... I hope it is a prompt for a few readers.

    Walden Steve,
    I hear you... I'm not a very patient patient.

    Spotted Dog,
    Good luck with your recovery... I understand your situation completely, but I know that doesn't help much. Write you way through it )) you are good at that.

    John Q,
    Hopefully will be better by the time you show up... otherwise you'll be hiking with BJ.

    Thank you... I hope people take to time to read your post!!!

    Thanks, I will do my best... see how it goes. I don't want it to drag on and on.

    Thanks for commenting. I will try the "peace of mind" thing... acceptance of what we can't change as the saying goes.

    Thanks for Commenting... The buck shot was a luck shot. Squeeze my pal Benny for me... need to see you guys more often. and HI to mom.

  14. I started running almost 3 years ago now, about 10 miles a week at peak. Then my knee started acting up, did physical therapy and rested but it's just never been the same so I finally conceded semi-defeat and only run once a week now, 2-3 miles depending on how quickly the inflammation rears up. Arthritis is not a friend! Like you I hike and bike to fill the hole, but when I ran yesterday for the first time in 10 days it was exhilarating! For now I'm counting my blessings I can still run at all and trying to enjoy all physical activity as much as possible in case some day I'm not so lucky. I've developed some irritating allergy related asthma as well that sometimes slows me down and makes me appreciate breathing more, too! If we only knew when we were 25, right? Rest and take care of yourself! Recovery takes time!

  15. Pam and Wayne,
    Yeah, "if we only knew," or, in my case, listened to my Mother :))
    I think you are "on to it" with cross training to fill the holes. But cross training is a lot like "kissing your sister." It just doesn't cut it like running does... I know you know what I mean...
    thanks for your inspiration tho... always want to keep the glass half full.


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