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Saturday, April 20, 2002

I'd like to say I'll never take pain-free normal walking for granted again, but I know I will. I will if I'm ever able to walk normally without pain again, that is. The improvement today was encouraging, but the pain is always lurking, ready to attack as soon as I forget. Sometimes I think that the next time I get up out of my chair and start walking, my toe won't hurt. Mostly I forget about the toe until I do stand up and the pain shoots up through my leg.

In the middle of the night when I got up and hobbled to the bathroom, I wouldn't have given a nickel for my chances of doing anything but sitting with my leg elevated all day today. I didn't wander around in the dark as I usually do. Every light on my path was on, to keep doors and chairs from jumping out at me and landing on my sore toe. It was the most painful walking I'd done yet, and I just assumed I was done for the day.

Imagine my shock and delight when I finally got the courage to get out of bed again, around ten this morning. I wanted nothing more than to lie there, not hurting, but I had to face the day some time. I gently put the sore left foot down on the carpet, and when the shock didn't shoot up through my leg to my hip, I was cheered a bit. I couldn't believe it, but I knew it was too good to last. The pain had to come back, because it couldn't possibly go away that quickly.

By noon I was feeling good about the world again. I was still sore, but I could get around well enough that I thought I'd chance a trip to the post office. I parked closer than usual, and I took my time, careful not to put any strain on the toe. I was still afraid my foot was about to explode in pain, so I didn't do much after I got back home.

Eventually I got restless. The wind had come up, so I had another good excuse to stay inside, but I kept looking out and seeing all the work that needs doing in the yard. If you'd seen me tottering around the garden at 2:30 this afternoon, you'd have said I should have been in traction, or maybe soaking in warm salt water. If you'd said that to me, I might have agreed with you.

To avoid the pain, I kept shifting my weight around, twisting into unnatural positions. I had to quit not because of the toe, but because all this extra effort was making my knee and hip sore. I'm not sure it was worth it, especially after I started sneezing like a maniac, but the bad pain, the kind I had last night and early this morning, never did return.

The pain, or the threat of it, affects me much more subtly today than it did yesterday. Then I was stopped from doing things I wanted to do, just because it hurt. Today, knowing that it's getting better, I went ahead and did what I had to. Knowing that it's just a bit of pain, and not anything permanent or even serious, lets me ignore it in a way I couldn't ignore the intestinal pain that got me to the doctor several times last year. It's easier to be dismissive of a problem you know will go away soon.

garden path

My garden path is a riot of pink and green right now.

As I was limping out the door this morning, I stopped and watched an oriole in the birdbath. This bird has been around for the last few days, but I've caught only fleeting glances until today. I didn't see it all last year, and I had to look it up in the field guide to make the identification. I didn't even realize we had orioles around here.

The goldfinches also seem to like the birdbath, and I'm seeing much more of them than I ever did in the past. They're cheerful little creatures, too, singing at full voice from the branches of the oak.

And of course the house finches are at the feeder on my back porch every day, all day. Every so often the sparrows will find the feeders, but the finches are always right there to chase them away. These birds made an appearance last year but didn't stick around. They must have found better accommodations somewhere else, but this year they like me. They really like me.

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