Dad found some of his toes beginning to rise above the others, rubbing painfully against the tops of his shoes. The podiatrist promised simply, “I can fix that.” The next week he poked into the sides of Dad’s toes with a tiny scalpel and nicked the toe tendons, to release some of their tension so the toes would drop back into place. Dad felt great when he came home, and wanted to go to the gym and to the grocery store. I implored him to sit down and elevate his foot, and placed an ice pack on his foot hoping to prevent and reduce the swelling and pain I knew was coming. “Dad,” I remonstrated, “if you don’t take it easy today, you are going to pay for it tomorrow.” And he paid, in the coinage of pain. And Mom and I paid, too, because it was our job to take care of him. Our gentle Dad turned into a cantankerous papa bear. I barked back that I would be very unhappy if he did not take care of his toes and they became infected and had to be amputated. Perhaps I reacted too harshly, but I needed to get his attention so he would contribute to his own care and healing. He apologized later, and began following the doctor’s orders (that is, Mom’s and my orders). Actually, though, he healed quite well, despite diabetes, and I let go my fear of amputation and all it would mean for his mobility. Now, weeks later, the snow is deep and we are taking granddaughter Amy sledding.
When I awoke from foot surgery—removing neuromas in both feet, again—I heard a pump and felt a squeeze, first on one calf and then the other. Unbeknownst to me, the surgical center staff had strapped me in leg squeezers (aka air compression leg massagers), to assist blood circulation and minimize the risk of blood clots. I was surprised at the need for leg massagers, because the operation lasted only 45 minutes, and people sleep much longer every day without anything squeezing their legs. When Dad’s feet started to swell, I thought maybe my leg squeezers might help his circulation as he sits reading in his chair until 3:00 or so in the morning. But having one more thing to strap on to one’s hard-to-reach extremities and to keep track of and to not trip over is a hassle. When he permits, I strap on the compressors and push the blue start buttons, setting the devices to inflating and squeezing and deflating and starting again. He often straps them on without my aid, and says the leg squeezers help.
Curtains and Veils
Only a cloth curtain separated the little boy’s anticipation of surgery from my own. But he was only two and didn’t know what was coming and had two kind parents who spoke in cheerful optimistic soft voices and kind nurses and kind doctors who smiled and were soft and kind.
I am always very careful to say nothing when awaking Continue reading