Thursday, April 6, 2017

Dealing With Pain

I hate my feet. Both of them.

If it was just that I had a degenerative disease that could be easily fixed with surgery, that would be one thing. I might be able to cope with the short-term pain, as acute as it is, while I await my turn under the knife. With the operation complete, I'm hoping that handicap will be placed well behind me.

But I also have severe osteoarthritis, in both feet, and in this damp, cool spring, the inflammation and pain in my feet is incredible. I am in a continuous state of stiffness and soreness.

When I walk or stand, my bad foot, as DW and I call it because it's the one awaiting surgery, is sore in a targeted spot and clicks when I'm moving, like I'm snapping my fingers with each step.

When I start walking, the stiffness caused by the arthritis sends shock waves of agony that carry up my legs. I limp, moving like an ancient man, until the joints loosen up. It's a strong limp, at first, like I've just been hit by a bus, but then settles to a noticeable but light limp, like I'm walking with one leg shorter than the other.

I feel bad when I limp in the office, as I work with someone who does have a permanent condition with one of his legs that causes his foot to turn outward. When he walks, there's a clear indication as to why he's limping.

With me, my feet point in the direction I'm going. I always feel self-conscious of people noticing my limp. I don't want to explain to everyone why I'm limping. But what really makes me feel self-conscious is that if I'm going on one of my many cruises around the office is that someone may see me limping severely, as I start my walk, and then see me, a few minutes later, with a barely perceptible limp.

I really hate when I'm walking toward that co-worker with the permanent limp and I'm limping heavily, too. We nod a subtle greeting and it's obvious he's curious about my limp. Minutes later, I pass him again, and my limp has eased.

And he looks at my legs and then looks me in the eyes.

I'm not mocking you, dude. Honest.

In a few months, I'll have had the surgery to correct the disintegrating joint. I'll be on crutches, and at that point I hope that those colleagues who saw me limp will put two and two together. But while the surgery will fix my bad foot, it will do nothing for the osteoarthritis. In cool, damp weather, I'll still be stiff, will still hobble for the first few steps.

And because I've been adjusting the the bad foot for about a year, favouring the right leg and modifying my walk, the pain now extends up to my knees, adding a new spot of bother.

What I wish is that the surgeon would just cut my legs off at the knees and give me prosthetic legs. The springy ones, for when I'm in a hurry and need to run, and the sleek metal ones, for most of the day.

Four inches longer than my real legs would be nice.

I know: a lot of you are thinking, that's awful! How can you be so flippant about removing your legs?

First of all, you don't know my pain. I have learned to hold it in well but on the inside, I'm screaming in pain. I've been quiet, sitting at my desk in the office, and you didn't see those tears rolling over my cheeks. You don't hear me breathing heavily as I drive, alone, in my car.

Cutting off legs is a drastic measure, but to me it seems better than living the rest of my life with a chronic pain.

And besides, have you seen that commercial for The War Amps kids? The one about Jericho, who was born without lower legs? Do you see him run and play? Do you see the smile on that lucky bastard's face?

Yeah, I want that.

Maybe, then, I would stop cursing both feet every time I stood on them.

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