It wasn’t like I had huge plans for how I was going to accomplish March this year. Anyone who lives in a grey city in the Midwest knows better than to plan too hard or too big in March.
Do your job. Get to the places you need to get. Laugh with your friends. Maybe drink some wine. That was the plan.
Then, as I have mentioned before, my ingrown toenail in-grew further. So I pulled up my big girl pants and called a podiatrist and went to her office and she did what they do. Not unremittingly awful. What I didn’t expect was how long it would take to “get back to normal”.
I spent one entire week inside my house in sweats and sandals. Other people go back to work the next day; about a hundred years ago Len got a life-threatening blood infection from a tiny toe abrasion, so I guess I was extra vigilant.
It’s been a month and I am finally starting to take long walks again. My toe still looks, well, not like a medical tent at Gettysburg, but certainly as if it has a story of its own.
Then last Friday evening while friends were here and we were enjoying dessert and above-average conversation and that wine I mentioned – I suddenly didn’t feel well. I went to the bathroom and, more or less, didn’t come back out until the next day. It’s been decades since I was that sick. I think it was food poisoning, though I hear there is a nasty virus going around.
It is five days later and I am definitely over the worst, though still kind of dicey about what I eat. My scoured out insides need to regain their equilibrium; not craving anything rich or meaty, that’s for sure.
I have been lucky most of my life; I don’t get very sick very often. And even through this past month, I’ve obviously been here and there.
But it’s been odd.
I keep reminding myself there isn’t a right or wrong, good or bad to this. I am a retired person with things to do but very few of them need to be done today. It’s okay to just lean back and fall asleep in the middle of another podcast. Snooze away.
Healing is a job -- and patience is a weird virtue. All my toe needed and still needs is water (I’ve done enough foot baths to start a new religion), antibiotic cream, a clean band-aid, and time.
All my innards needed were to get rid of whatever amazingly terrible thing I must have ingested along the way. So they did that. Now all they need to time, nothing too rich to eat, more time, lots of water, rest, and more time.
Boy is this easier when one doesn’t have kids or a job! This was a day on a sunny beach compared to a hard cold while minding toddlers, or stomach flu while driving preteens to soccer, or hosting a birthday party with a sprained ankle.
Have I mentioned water? Soak, soak, and soak the foot. Wash, wash, and wash the hands. Wash the towels. Wash the counters and sinks. Wash the sheets (because if you eat toast in bed all day, you sleep in crumbs all night). Then drink the water; drink seltzer water; drink tea. Healing seems to be about living in a state of baptism!
Like I say, I’ve mostly been lucky. I’m not often sick or hurt. Many of you have and are living through much more than an impaired toe and one long sick weekend. (I’ve seen those calendars packed with medical appointments!)
I’ve been too uncomfortably aware this month that we think we are what we think.
But get hurt or sick and we remember we all ride around in lovely old sacks of soft skin, a precarious architecture of joints and muscles, and tangled innards.
Pretending we are not vulnerable human animals doesn’t heal anything.