When your feet hurt, you walk less.
You sit more. (and okay, yes, sitting sometimes equals snacking)
You do less.
You grow and grow until you feel not at home in your body anymore.
You put stuff off.
The apartment gets messy. The floor seems a million miles away. The bathroom is in another galaxy. The laundry – well, it may as well not exist for how far away you have to go to hang it up.
You have a birthday and suddenly feel not just one number but a dozen numbers older.
You stop asking your sister when she’s coming to Israel because you don’t know if you’ll be able to walk around with her anyway.
You try not to plan more than one thing in a day, and then realize that’s exactly how your grandparents were before they died.
Sometimes, you wake up feeling okay and push yourself.
The next day, it hurts more. The next day, you do less.
You sit. And grow. This is not the good kind of growing, but the kind that makes you die sooner.
You order online because that way, you don’t have to shlep to the store. (Okay, this part, I kind of like!)
You avoid going places the same way you did when you had a newborn, but this time, you are the excuse, and not the baby.
You sit. And sit. And sit.
You look down. You ask yourself, “Is this really me?” The me so restless she can barely stop moving for a second?
This is not me. At least, not yet.
And this is not a kvetch, believe it or not. This is the Plan for the rest of my life. Maybe yours, too, if you know what I’m talking about and have some kind of pain that maybe not everybody knows about… but which has started to dominate your life.
The pain doesn’t have to be in charge. You don’t just have to sit.
I’ve started doing exercise classes again, for the first time since we moved to Israel. Pilates is ideal, because it’s zero-impact, and also two blocks away from my house; no excuses. And while I’m waiting for the physio appointment I finally booked, I found a neat exercise routine specifically for PTTI / PTTD, my specific foot problem. (Plus one with pictures, and another one – rename the downloaded file as a PDF, not sure why it’s weird.)
I do try to walk seriously once a week, so my joints don’t turn to carbon and fossilize. It’s hard to tell if this helps or not, because everything I’ve read says the affected foot shouldn’t bear any weight until it’s less painful… and by now, both feet are now pretty much living, breathing, walking knives of pain, almost all the time.
Some websites recommend complete immobilization. See above: when you don’t move, you grow. You turn to stone.
The doctor recommended against orthotics, and I agree, but I ordered an unsightly foot brace that Amazon reviewers assure me will only fit inside the ugliest of sandals and will wear out inside of six months. They also say it’s what kept them walking when all else failed, and I feel like I need to keep walking.
If you lose your mobility, you lose everything. Okay, no, that’s not true. Many people have mobility problems and still lead very active, wonderful, meaningful lives. But while I’ve got it (at least some, even if it hurts), I plan to do all I can to hang onto it.
Can you hear the panic in my voice?
When my feet hurt, I blog more. As if keeping my fingers nimble and my word count over 1000 per hour means I’m still alive, still around, still active in the world.
I used to think that if something happened to my body, I’d be okay as long as I could still type, still connect to the internet, still be a brain in a jar interacting with the virtual world. But it turns out pain is very, very distracting. I’m still interacting with the world, but some days, it’s not exactly the same me. And the people around me know: I’m grouchy, I’m lazy, more tired and more irritable than ever before.
Is it because of the pain? Or because I don’t know what the rest of my life will look like as long as these current feet continue to dominate my world?
The good news is that this thing for sure won’t kill me. The bad news is that it doesn’t get better. Most of the exercise thingies say the goal is to try to stop it from getting worse. That you need to keep working it, every day, forever. That you lose any ground you gain almost instantly if you stop.
Okay, I may be reading between the lines. Those exercise thingies are all written by perky therapists in their 20s, and are far from hopeless.
I am far from hopeless. A day I can’t get out of bed may well be followed by a day in which I hike across Tel Aviv. How many people can say that? On Sunday, I was in Jerusalem, hobbling up a hill to the impossibly far-away bus station so I could crawl home, and I thought, that bridge, that weird wing-shaped bridge, is so, so beautiful.
And then I thought… “ouch, my feet really, really hurt.” Life is up and down that way, these days. But that’s life, at least when your feet hurt.