Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Joy of Seeing My Leg

Last Friday I went to a new orthopedist and he took off my old cast and gave me a new removable cast. He also said that I could now put weight on my ankle as long as I use the walker. It is great to be able to walk again. Every thing seems to work better -- digestion, circulation, and mind-- just because I can remain in an upright position for part of the day. I can also go up the two stairs to the kitchen, which means I won't starve to death if left alone for several hours.

But the best part of this transformation is getting reacquainted with my left leg. I missed seeing it. When the removable cast is taken off, there it is, like a long lost friend. My foot skin is pealing, but my incisions are closed and there is only a minor atrophy of the calf muscles. I am due to start physical therapy soon, but in the meantime, I love letting the sun shine on my leg and wiggling my toes. My ankle is really stiff and painful to move or rotate, but at least it is attached to my foot at a normal angle again, and I am hopeful that one day I will be on the track again without Comet II.

The happiness of seeing my leg has led me to consider, that for a fat person, I quite like my body. First of all, on a practical level, it seems to work. I have borne children, breast fed them, carried them on my back for long distances, and, more recently, camped and swam in ice cold rivers with my grandchildren. On the aesthetic level, I have pretty feet, fairly unwrinkled decolletage for a sixty year old, and thick wavy hair that shines in the sun. I don't sunburn. My skin turns a toasty warm color in the summer. I could list all the negative things about me, but I won't. I think that fat people, like all people, should be happy with the good physical attributes they are fortunate enough to receive.

But being in a wheelchair and now a walker is not as positive an experience. I have adapted reasonably well to the physical limitations ( I attribute this to an innate ability to spend hours on the couch engrossed in house shows and sports on the tube). But the emotional side has been tough. At first I tried being stoic and cheerful, but this lead to my family assuming I could be left alone for hours on end. Eventually feelings of not being able to express feelings overwhelmed me and I had a cry day. This alerted my family that I needed more TLC. Hence, I have a rotating schedule of family care with breaks filled in by a wonderful neighbor of Rose and Mario, who visits frequently bringing a burst of energy and optimism with her. She is someone who has overcome obstacles through perseverance, courage, and super organizational skills. Her personality is just what the doctor ordered.

So now I am off to the shower where I will wash my leg and rinse it for a long time with a stream of hot water. I never realized what joy a limb could bring.


  1. Martha,

    I haven't been keeping up, but just thought today "I wonder if she's still blogging?" So sorry to hear about your ankle, and I hope your recovery continues to go well. I definitely understand about the feeling of getting a cast off -- I had to go through that twice with full body casts when I had my scoliosis surgeries, after 6 months in a cast and not being able to get a hug, the feeling of even wrapping my own arms around my body was just amazing!

    I'm heading in for hip replacement surgery May 4. 'Will check back with you sometime to let you know how it went.

    Ann Carlson

  2. A: Yes, please let me know how the hip replacement goes. I hope it goes smoothly. I can't even imagine living with a body cast. Must have been terrible, M.