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Selected Podpieces


I have had occasion recently to practice being homebound. After a spot of surgery on my big toe, I was ordered to stay off my left foot for four weeks. I was supposed to keep my foot above my heart, which I was unable to do. It would have meant lying on a slant board, which I can’t do because it makes my vertigo start up. I tried lying flat on my back with my leg propped up on a pillow, but do you know how many things you can do lying flat on your back? Not many. Even when I tried to read, as I held my book up above my face the blood flowed out of my hands and they fell asleep, going all pins and needles and then numb.

Staying off one foot meant I was clumping around the house with a walker, plonking it down and then hopping after it on my good foot, plonk, hop, plonk, hop. I was unable to carry my morning coffee or my evening wine from kitchen to the sofa where I spent the day, or do the dishes, or even set the table. So my poor Companion was forced to traipse back and forth all day, fetching and carrying, assisting and serving me, as I lay on the sofa reading and knitting and eating bonbons and catching up on four seasons of Homeland.

All hilarity aside, I learned a few things during my weeks of incapacity. I discovered that it’s not fun being dependent on other people to do things for you; you feel a mixture of guilt at making them help you and annoyance that they don’t help you faster.

I learned that my walker had to be turned sideways to get through my bathroom door; in a wheelchair I’d have been out of luck.

It’s hard to get up or down steps with one leg, even just the two or three steps at the front door. Even with my walker planted firmly on the ground, and My Companion standing at the ready, I was afraid to hop down the step, so I sat and scooted down – and then had the dickens of a time standing up again, even with walker and Companion.

I learned the hard way that those warnings about throw rugs are true: you can trip on them, and fall, causing the Companion to gasp and the dogs to bark wildly. Once again, I had the dickens of a time getting to my feet – er, foot.

I had sore arms, and developed calluses on my palms, from swinging my not-so-ethereal body through the air after every step. I was glad I weigh no more than I do, and marveled at how really hefty people manage.

I thought of my dad, inching his Parkinsonian way through the house in the months before he moved to The Home; my mother, who could no longer come to dinner at my house because we couldn’t manage her wheelchair any more.

I thought of all the people who do not have the luxury, as I do, of looking forward to the day I can take off this funny shoe, toss my walker aside, and stride manfully down to the town landing with the dogs, enjoying the changing scene and appreciating every step. Once again, I am lucky, lucky, lucky.
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