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THE WOODS: Part 4

In The 70's on August 10, 2012 at 10:49 pm

I certainly had a lot of other things going on-or hoped to. It was the beginning of summer, and now my foot injury was taking precedence over everything else. At first, the random change of plans had seemed kind of exciting- like when a big storm is heading your way-until it actually gets there, and the power goes off, the food goes bad, and you realize the magnitude of things we take for granted (electricity, fresh food, water, manners, civility) and that we are  (pathetically) ill-equipped to deal with life in ‘survival-mode’. That’s when it hits you, this isn’t ‘fun’ at all. The same could be said about my the ability to freely walk without thinking about it.

“This is going to be so fun!’

This was my summer, so far: Kicking back in my canopy bed, propped up on pillows, flipping through Sixteen ,reading Jacqueline Susann’s “Once Is Not Enough’ (written, by the way, on her deathbed), listening to “Smoke On The Water’ and ‘Angie’ ad nauseum on the FM radio-because getting up to change an 8 track after it ran its course was a pain, and there was almost always a song I didn’t like creeping up. At least the radio might surprise me. I was occasionally making complicated forays into the living room as well to watch daytime t.v.,  desperately trying to avoid the boring Watergate hearings. My new ‘routine’  got old quick. 

My doctor’s appointment was three days after my Emergency room visit, but felt like weeks. Of course, I talked on the phone for seven or eight hours a day, which kept me busy, and up-to-date on all of my friend’s comings and goings. It was mostly routine stuff: Trey fighting, or wanting to fight, or having fought someone, Toni in love with, thinking of breaking up with, or planning to marry John, and Cheryl’s updates on what the crew in her neck of the woods (technically four streets over, but another country as far as neighborhoods went) was up to. Compelling stuff. But at least I could enjoy this form of socializing from my bed. Because moving about was no easy deal.

“I’m not a crook! Yet I’ve stolen every channel for coverage!”

But it was trying to sleep that was the worst! I was a side-sleeper, and though I propped my foot up on several pillows, letting it dangle off, clear of obstruction, I would twist and turn in my sleep and be startled awake- shrieking in pain as my toe touched down on the mattress, feeling as though I’d been struck by the Hammer of the Gods. 

Keeping clean was a major problem as well. There was no way I could submerge my foot into a bathtub full of water, and the thought of a shower-with the water pelting down onto my open toe, was unbearable. So I had to take bird baths, and wash my long hair in the kitchen sink, which took forever. It brought a whole new meaning to my least favorite description of my hair color as well: dishwater blonde.

As I leaned into the sink, and clumsily tried to wet my hair under the faucet, I couldn’t shake the vision of my long locks being pulled down deep into the drain, where god knows what black-hole, skeeviness lived. I couldn’t use the stopper either, as my hair would immediately become entangled in it, like an octopus about to spray ink. In fact on day one, with my Mom safely at work, I spent several minutes lurching about the kitchen, head soaking wet and upside down, searching for my towel, the captive metal strainer swaying to and fro like a pendulum. I dealt with all of this while trying to avoid hitting my wounded toe on any hard surface, such as the kitchen cabinets, against which I had to stand to reach the sink in the first place. It was a long, exhausting production. And I had to do it three whole times. It was murder on my thirteen year old psyche. (Not washing my hair was out of the question. What if someone saw me?)

Birdbaths: A barrel of fun….like to see you try it, peckerneck!

 ‘D’ (-as in ‘doctor’) Day eventually came, and after I went through my bird bath/ shampoo drama, which proved especially heart-stopping with my mother- who was off from work to take me to my appointment, continually  cutting it way too close to my exposed foot, fetching her coffee and flitting about unpredictably, as if we were all sporting ‘regular’ toes. I was becoming very resentful of the ‘foot freedom’ everyone else took for granted. A commercial or print ad for shoes, socks, nail polish, even corn remover, left a bitter taste in my mouth. I wanted to, once again, walk amongst the healthy and not have to think about my every move.

It occurred to me that I would never be one of those inspiring handicapped people, who never let their physical limitations hold them back. Like the legless man who won marathons, or the paralyzed woman who climbed the highest mountains. Instead, I would be overflowing with self-pity and complaints, and probably drive everyone close to me away, if this minor foot injury was in any way an indication. Chances are, it would end when I was mysteriously served arsenic in my tea.  There would be no investigation. 

I got dressed in a denim halter top and bell bottom jeans (one bell rolled up past my knee to prevent contact) and one hot pink Bradlees brand rubber thong for my foot. We drove  downtown, parked behind the movie theater, and proceeded to walk ( and hobble, respectively) to my foot doctor’s office, which was located above a barber shop, and ironically, required navigating a steep staircase to get to. Like a doctor having bad handwriting, this could be thought of as funny, but really wasn’t at all. By the time we made it to the waiting room, I felt as if I’d climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, and I was less than pleased.

My mother filled out the paperwork given to her by the perky, red-headed medical assistant at the front desk, while I stared at the wall, occasionally glancing around. There was only one other person in the waiting room, a man with a cast, crutches leaning up against the wall near where he sat, reading Field and Stream. He must have had a ball walking up the steps! I wondered if I would end up with crutches and/or a cast. I liked the idea of a cast because it would protect my wound like a shell, plus: cool autographs. But I really hoped that somehow I could just be back to my normal, sock and shoe-wearing self by the time I left the office. 

I hoped my foot would look like this, by the time I left the Doctor’s office…..

After a good 20 minute wait, a nurse holding a clipboard finally opened the door to the waiting room and called my name. My mother escorted me into the back to meet the doctor, and discuss the treatment plan. If I could have left my body like a ghost, floated away and returned when it was over, I would have been thrilled. The thought of anybody anywhere near my foot made me cringe!

Before we got into the examining room, a huge man, sweating profusely, came barreling down  the hallway, his girth spanning it’s entire width. He was heading towards us at a fast clip, and I moved as best I could towards the right side, hoping to use my mother as a shield should we collide. I’d never played ‘chicken’ on foot, but like the car-version, I wasn’t enjoying it in the least. Luckily, the nurse led us into a room off to the right, before our paths crossed.

I was eased into a brown leather chair that looked similar to a dentist’s. I climbed in, and the nurse then began hitting buttons for different lights and gadgets- one of which raised my leg up vertically, until my mangled toenail was framed in fluorescent light, in a dramatic, circle- of- life, lion-cub- over-a-cliff kind of way, center stage. It looked especially disgusting at this point, like a pool of blood with glass shards jutting out.

The larger-than-life guy then entered the room, smiling and shaking my mom’s hand, while I focused in on the nurse, who was gathering up dangerous looking picks and scalpels that I assumed would be used on me. It made me sick to my stomach, and I had the urge to somehow call the whole thing off, but it was too late. I was jarred out of my trance by the big man himself- who extended his hand for me to shake (back in the seventies, you could shake hands in a medical setting without fear of a medical plague, or a bottle of anti- bacterial gel) and it suddenly hit me: this was not an orderly, or an office assistant, this was my actual doctor!

He was a giant man- six-three, or so, and I estimated his weight at about 350. He had long brown, somewhat stringy hair, reaching  halfway to his elbows. It wasn’t even tied back. He had a pleasant face, green eyes and a friendly smile, but certainly did not fit the image of any doctor, anywhere, ever. (The singer, Meatloaf, maybe) As soon as he was done introducing himself (“Dr. Granger, but you can call me Dr. Rick”) I began urgently trying to communicate telepathically with my mother, to convey to her silently “What in God’s name is this?” along with the much more important: ” Help! Get me out of here!!” She steadfastly refused to meet my glare, and yet I could tell she was just as freaked out as I was. The guy looked crazy. It was shocking to realize she wasn’t going to abort the plan, and I knew that’s why she couldn’t look me in the eye! I promised myself that later on I would go off on her- if of course, I survived, after going under the knife with this-this person- at the helm.

The next thing I knew, my mother was blowing me an air- kiss, though still not meeting my gaze- and saying “Lee-lee- I’ll be back in an hour or so, I’m going to just run a few errands while the doctor treats you”…and off she went, yapping to deflect concern, my imaginary hands gripped around her neck. Perhaps she was heading off to the five-and-ten (as she still called any store with a counter) for a slice of custard pie and some coffee, maybe to peruse some magazines, have a smoke, pick up some doo-dads. How nice for her. 

I imagined a scenario wherein I would actually die while she was gone. Would she look back at these last moments and wish she’d called the whole thing off? ‘I should have gone with my instincts’ she’d say. Or: ‘I knew something was off, and poor LeeLee- trying to signal me with those puppy-dog eyes! Why, oh why!-didn’t I listen?’ Or, would she be so guilt filled that her brain would block it all out as she went forward with a substantial lawsuit that would afford her an early retirement and a chance to travel the world in style?

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