This post was supposed to be about how frustrated I get every time I hear people say “Never gonna happen.” I was all ready to write about it. I’d been listening to this great new book on my drive to work, a book that reminded me how very many times throughout history people have said “No way, never gonna happen,” but of course, whatever they said wouldn’t happen, did happen. Anyway, that’s was I was going to write about.
But it didn’t happen.
Why? Because my little toe took over my life. I know I’m referring to my little toe like it’s a separate thing, as if it had its own tiny will and mini attitude and all. I do realize it’s a part of me, but that little toe, the second to last one on the left, is small, it shouldn’t really be monopolizing my life.
How much of my time does a little toe deserve, you ask?
Ten minutes. Per month. No, I haven’t done the math (hmmm, let’s see, the ratio of the weight of my little toe to that of my entire body…), no. Other than the ten seconds it takes to clean my feet in the shower, my toes, altogether, only get about ten minutes a month. Just enough time to buff and color them. I do enjoy a snippet of peace and quiet while I slap some paint on them. It’s relaxing, the way an adult coloring book should be, but it only takes about ten minutes. If that. And only in the summer months.
But noooOOOOOoooo. So far my little toe’s taken up more than 24 hours of my week. As you might imagine, I’m pretty annoyed. There I was, about to sit on the sofa with my trusty laptop, when I stubbed my toe on the ottoman.
There was a crack. And pain. Much pain.
Of course that’s not the first time I stubbed my toe. Heck, I bump into things all the time. I will be forever spouting the awesome science behind laser eye surgery, but it didn’t cure my klutziness. As an audiologist, I’ve diagnosed many a dizzy patient, but, don’t they say, “Audiologist diagnose thyself?” Yeah, I’m sure the saying goes something like that. Anyhow, I’m regularly bumping into things.
I was in tank tops last month, panting in the summer heat, when my husband noticed a decent-sized bruise near my shoulder. Where did I get it? Who knows? I usually just bump into things and move on. Whatever, right?
Not this time.
Ohhhh, the pain. It not only hurt to walk, it hurt to even lift my foot. Seriously.
But, seriously? On a Sunday afternoon? What was I going to do? Husband out of town, I was supposed to attend a college function with our older son. Instead I ended up in the E.R.
What? No way, you say. The E.R. for a stubbed toe?
Okay, I did call Urgent Care first, but their x-ray tech was out, so the E.R. it was. I know, I know, “That’s what’s wrong with the state of modern medicine,” they say. “People go to the E.R. every time they stub their little toe…” Heck, I wouldn’t put it past myself to say the same thing. But, I swear on the sinful mini s’mores cupcakes sitting atop my fridge, it really hurt. Really.
So there went my day. Our day. I was in the E.R. with my younger son, while the older one headed to his college function without me. What kind of a mother am I? A few x-rays later and I learn that it’s not broken, but should be set and elevated for 24 hours, iced every two hours.
What? 24 hours for a friggin toe?
One of my favorite Shel Silverstein poems, “Sick,” comes to mind:
“I cannot go to school today,”
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
“I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash, and purple bumps…
Or just a really, really sprained toe.
So I spent Monday not at work, but on the sofa.
Of course I know so many people deal with so much worse. Just a year ago I was so ill I could barely function. Eating and breathing were difficult, I lost a scary amount of weight and my hair began falling out. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t stay awake for more than a couple of hours. It took months of appointments, meds, procedures, and lots of help from family, before I put myself together again. And now, despite the altered diet, ongoing meds and appointments, my life feels pretty much normal again. I’ve found a new normal, anyway.
But then all it takes is a toe, doesn’t it? A little stub on a tiny toe. It reminds me how the slightest ding or dent in a system can throw everything out of whack.
I finally peeled myself off of the sofa this evening and unwrapped my foot for a shower. Standing in the water, recounting my day, I realized a few things:
Rest is good. Because life is hectic. It snatches us up like a tornado, spins us so high we lose sight of the ground, of the foundation we’ve built. Until a wise little toe goes and stubs itself, forcing relief from the storm, if only for a few hours.
Kids can do. While I followed the E.R.’s orders, stuffing pillows under my feet, our older son dropped off and picked up his little brother from camp. They did the dishes and folded laundry. They gave the cat a treat every time he used the litter box (yes, elderly cats require tasty motivators to use the box). Sometimes I get so caught up in taking care of our kids, I lose sight of how much they can do for themselves.
Attend to your needs. Even the needs of the second to last toe on your left foot. These bodies are the only ones we have. Like a car or a bike or a computer, they require attention, care and maintenance.
Will I remember these lessons tomorrow, after the tornado of life snatches me up at 5am? (Okay, 5:30… maybe 5:45… gotta love the snooze button.) I hope so. And I hope to step thoughtfully the next time I pass the ottoman. Can I promise I’ll never end up on the sofa again with a wrapped toe packed in ice? I’m still me, and life is still life, so I’m not going to say it’s never gonna happen.