Tuesday, February 12, 2019

(Un)Happy Feet

The offending appendage

I feel like an utter fraud.

This is the kind of injury dedicated runners get, or people who climb tons of stairs. It’s even known to be caused by shoes laced too tightly.

NONE of this applies to me. It is as if I got the bends from just washing my face, or carpal tunnel from waving bye bye once in a while.

On Saturday morning, walking to meet Rose at the Oreland train station, I noticed my right foot was aching. Didn’t think much of it—in fact, I proceeded to walk two more miles, to the Acme and back. That evening, a group of us went down to Delaware to see Steve in Guys and Dolls. By then, I was hobbling, and after the show I couldn’t traverse the path from theatre to car without assistance.

No sleep that night due to intense pain, even after taking 600 mg. of ibuprophen. I spent early Sunday morning divesting myself of my obligations for the day ahead—teaching Confirmation, delivering the children’s message. I was really looking forward to attending the opera that afternoon with my friend Mary Ellen, but the prospect of navigating Center City on foot was way too much for me. So I passed the day resting, elevating, and icing the offending appendage. By then it was pretty clear I had extensor tendonitis (an inflammation of the tendons of the foot). This is one of those delightful ailments for which time is the only real cure—and I don’t have time for this!!!

Ironically, we’d just covered St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians in Bible study (the one listing the various Fruits of the Spirit). I’d been feeling a bit smug as I checked off my Fruits. Yes, I am (often) kind! Yes, I exhibit self-control! Sometimes! Loving? Faithful? But of course! Ish!!  But then I got to…Patient. And I had to admit. I am not only impatient, I am IMPATIENT, especially when it comes to issues of health and wellness. In a world where so many of my brothers and sisters are living with genuine, long term disabilities, I am instantly infuriated by a slight, temporary limp.

My life circumstances can change on a dime—as can yours. This week, I walked a literal mile in the shoes of a disabled person. I hope to emerge from this miserable experience with more patience, and compassion. I am not getting any younger, and I anticipate more and more system failures going forward. And I’ll have a choice when confronted with the inevitable aches and pains ahead. Will I be grouchy? Or gracious?

A day as miserable as I am!
As it write this, it is a sleety Tuesday afternoon—not a day to be outside, even with fully functioning limbs. I can now put some weight on the foot without agony (though it isn’t loads of fun). Clearly I am on the road to recovery, and anticipate being back on the dance floor by next weekend.

Except I don’t dance.

But you get the idea.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Little Ms. Orchid

The little gal herself, in (slightly) better days

My friend Julie brought me a sweet birthday gift in December: a small orchid plant. Jaunty purple blossoms, glossy green leaves, in a tiny black and white striped ceramic pot—what a thoughtful present! And how motivating! I vowed I would surround my new orchid with beauty and peace! It would perch on a sleek new desk from IKEA, presiding over my leather sofa (which would be magically, and permanently, de-cluttered), my re-organized and sorted bookshelves, and the striking wall hanging I would create from my cross collection (which currently sprawled all across my work surface). Like the mustard seed of Scripture, this tiny little orchid gave me great big faith—I could build a Martha Stewart life! Wouldn’t the folks who pass through my office en route to the sacristy be amazed? It would be like walking through a Zen garden!

I had no time during the hectic holiday season to clean or rearrange anything, so Little Ms. Orchid remained the one tidy and beautiful thing in my office. I watered her carefully (one ice cube per week, as recommended) and promised that she would soon be the focal point of a lovely room. As the weeks went on, she began to shed her lavender flowers, slowly but surely. Oh dear! Were my ice cubes too cold? Was she getting enough light? My expectation that she would generate new blooms was quickly dashed—apparently, while orchid flowers last quite a while, once they die, the plant often doesn’t ever blossom again.

January was gray and blustery, but I remained hopeful. My friend Sally spent her day off helping me clean the closets, and I was briefly buoyed. But within two weeks, I was kicking my way through the mess on the floor left by the MLK Day of Service projects (boxes of stuffed plush bunnies, bags of homemade peppermint bark, piles of colorful fleece scarves—all bound for one charity or the other—eventually). I put in my request for new furniture and was approved. As soon as I knew that new stuff was coming, my current surroundings looked instantly 1000% shabbier. How had I lived 17 years with this ugly desk—which was a hand-me-down even back in 2002? Rusty metal file drawers that stood empty (I have everything on the computer and rarely keep paper files anymore), zero artwork on the walls…suddenly intolerable!

But it seems I CAN still tolerate it all, because nothing has changed. An echo of the sad state of things, Ms. Orchid is down to one solitary bloom (and that one ain’t looking too healthy). How to cheer my small symbol of hope? If Marie Kondo can chat with her belongings, I can as well! “Stay strong, my dear!” I whisper to my bedraggled little plant. “IKEA delivery is coming! Your home will soon be a showplace, and nothing will ever mar its perfection again!!”

And then, I get my reply. The final purple flower droops, about to flutter to the table.


Martha would be appalled...