Reading Rarasaur reminded me I can’t do much of anything anymore. Some things, I never could do and other things, I used to do but had to stop. What was a challenge 30 years ago is a showstopper now.
I got to thinking about my family. Garry is deaf. He’s always been hard of hearing, but over the years — and especially the past five — it’s gone from bad to much worse. He doesn’t want to go to parties because he can’t hear.
I’ve bought him wireless earphones so he can hear the television, but more often than not, he can’t hear me. He still managed to be a reporter for more than 40 years, covering long trials with mumbling judges and incoherent witnesses. And win three Emmys along the way. Even if he does have trouble buttoning his shirt properly.
My son can’t get numbers to stay put. Neither can my granddaughter. They stay put fine for me. They just don’t mean anything. I worked in high-tech for most of my life (not all of it … just the last 35 years) and when I needed numbers to work, I made them work, but I don’t know how.
My granddaughter knocked her spine out in gymnastics and karate and has a club foot. Bad club foot. Eighteen surgeries later, she can only walk painfully and has never been able to run. She was a whiz at karate, up to the brown belt when the doctors made her quit. Despite all of this, she wanted to join the Army. They wouldn’t take her because of her back. She’s still depressed about it.
I can’t back a car up without hitting something and can get lost between the kitchen and the bathroom. Put a paper bag over my head, spin me around twice, take the bag off and I’ll have no idea where I am. I drive only reluctantly. Out here in the country, we ain’t got no buses or trains. It’s feet or the car. My feet aren’t so good, so it’s the car. But I’d rather not.
The whole club foot thing is three generations strong. Owen’s dad was born with club feet, as was Owen, then Kaity. Turns out, it runs in my family too, but no one mentioned it until after my kid was born. The first things my doctor said to me after the birthing was: “He’s blue. And he has your husband’s feet.” The blue thing had implications about which we had no understanding. Lots of problems with school and learning disabilities. The feet — after surgery — he did okay for a long time, but now his Achilles tendon has calcified and walking is getting harder by the day.
What a bunch of losers, eh? Yet we have done what we could, done more than most — individually and collectively. Not without pain and certainly not without angst. I think between all of us, we’ve had every kind of surgery anyone can think of … except heart and mine’s coming up next year.
I remember being 15. It was the Kennedy era and they put his exercise program as a requirement in New York schools. They were easy exercises and none required good balance (lucky for me!). By the end of the school year, I was in the best shape of my entire life. An hour of dedicated exercise a day does work. Who’d have believed it?
The following year I wound up with a pin in my ankle when they took a tumor out. A benign tumor, but big. Then I went to college. And soon, I was married and went back to riding horses, even though it hurt. And there was the spine surgery, the infection, the chat with God, the months wrapped in plaster waiting for bones to knit.
They never knit properly. But I didn’t know it and went on as if everything was fine, refusing to get an X-ray for the next 35 years until following an auto accident, I couldn’t say no. What I didn’t know wouldn’t hurt me. Right and wrong. It did hurt me. It didn’t stop me. Despite the result being a phenomenal degree of osteoarthritis — such that experienced ortho docs get together and huddle over my pictures, oohing and aahing at how much calcification! Then the inevitable “How are you still walking around?” Duh. When I found a doctor who didn’t do that, I stuck with him. He’s the supreme court of spines and even though he has nothing to offer in the way of making it better, he at least doesn’t gasp in horror and look at me with pity.
Maybe we, the broken ones find each other by some kind of magnetic attraction. We understand what it is to be imperfect, to have to “find another way.” Finding other ways to get things done because the “right” way doesn’t work for us is normal in our world.
I’m always impressed by anyone who can wear regular shoes. In this house, only Garry has normal feet. His problems start somewhere mid-back and continue into the ears. Good feet. My problems start around midback and run down to include my feet. Ditto son and granddaughter. If they were going to emulate me, couldn’t they have found less painful ways?
But wait! Kaity writes. And takes pictures. So maybe some good stuff got passed along too.
We are all broken. I’m so proud of us.