A Radical Idea

So, I haven't updated you all about my foot in a few days and I know you're on the edge of your seats wondering WHAT IS GOING ON.


It's a miracle, as far as I am concerned.

My foot has been taped for almost two weeks now and I am almost entirely without pain. I've been racing around trying to get stuff done, just sure that the pain is out there lying in wait for me, ready to drop-kick my life back to hell. But it hasn't happened.

In fact, the taping has been so successful that my doctor has canceled the surgery to clean out the scar tissue and implant the little thimble-thingy until we see if a simple orthotic (a shoe insert custom-made to hold my foot in a position that prevents it from pronating and crunching bone-on-bone in my ankle area) might be all that is required. At any rate we're going to try it. We can always reschedule the surgery if the orthotic doesn't work.

But I just am... almost without words for the difference a little bit of tape has made to my life. First of all, I don't think it's coincidence that as soon as I confessed to you that I have been in tremendous chronic pain, an answer seemed to arrive. I don't know why I need to learn this lesson again and again but whenever I let myself reach out and admit I need help and comfort, I get miracles.

So, that's ONE lesson.

Another lesson is that I was so mad at my body and myself for daring to be fallible and mortal, I wasn't taking care of any part of myself. Not just eating right and exercising but not doing anything nice for myself at all. I wasn't even KNITTING. I wasn't putting on music and pretending to be Aretha Franklin. I wasn't planning my spring garden or working on my book or any of the things that might have brought me some pleasure even though I was mostly couch-bound.

(To be fair, part of this is that when my pain got so incredibly loud, it sort of drowned out the call of all of those other small pleasures. Y'all, chronic pain is... the big LIFE SUCKING DEATH SCOURGE.) (Not that I feel strongly about this or anything.)

This morning I was standing at my sink, snipping the bottoms off of the large bunch of tulips my husband and children gave me for Valentine's Day, and I felt so peaceful-- this quiet happiness, you know? And I got to thinking about how I never bring myself flowers anymore. It used to be part of my weekly routine that I would put some fresh flowers in my house somewhere and every time I looked at them, I got a little Joy Rush. My husband is the absolute best man on this planet--seriously, I have never heard of anyone better-- at bringing his sweetheart flowers. (That's me, for clarification's sake.) But I used to bring myself a little five dollar pot of something blooming once a week or so. Sometimes it was just basil but more often it was a gerbera daisy or a cheap bunch of sunflowers.

Anyway, I got to thinking about how often we forget to nurture OURSELVES in our daily routines and how important it is. And I had this idea that maybe this week, we could ALL, every last one of us, do some tiny thing for ourselves. I like the idea of a little bunch of flowers but if that doesn't float your boat, you could make yourself one perfect cup of coffee--you know, exactly how you REALLY like it and not settle for too little of this or that in the essence of expedience. And then drink it very consciously while watching the sunrise or set or doing some other type of sun activity.

Or maybe you find a really luscious piece of fruit at the grocery store and bring it home to enjoy, all by yourself, while reading the paper. Or you take one ten minute bath where all you do is soak in the water and feel how it touches your skin and you revel in that fully.

For once in your freaking life, make yourself stop making to-do lists and hurrying through everything.


(Well, okay, that's me. Sorry.)

It just sort of occurred to me how much of our lives are spent drowning out our own needs and desires because they don't seem like worthy uses of our energy and time. We punish ourselves for not measuring up to our own high standards and sometimes, in trying to meet the needs of those around us, we forget to be nice to ourselves.

In my case, it's almost like I feel that I have to get through this enormous to-do list before I can start the LIVING part of life. Like, "I'll enjoy this world when I've lost these 25 pounds, started exercising, gotten my kids through grad school, organize the basement..." and new things keep getting added to that list all the time. I think we, well, *I*, have to consciously take back a little space for myself. To take a few freaking posies and put them in a jar and look at them with pleasure every so often. I can wait to do that until we balance the budget or I can carve out a little priority for me. Just one.

So, some time in the next week, do one small thing just to indulge yourself. I'm not talking about remodeling your kitchen. I'm talking about one tiny thing that you wouldn't ordinarily do for yourself that brings you pleasure when you think about it. Do that thing consciously and with pleasure and setting aside all guilt and multi-tasking and any other distraction. Then report back --I'd really like to know if it recharged your batteries a little bit.

(Now, I have to confess that I really wanted to find some genderless examples of tiny indulgences because I sometimes forget that I have male readers and then I get an e-mail or a comment and I panic, wondering if I've discussed temporary water weight gain or something else that might make members of the male gender uncomfortable. But I couldn't really think of any. So, I'm sorry.)


Ei said…
Hey hon. I'm sooo glad you are feeling better and that you might not have to do the surgery. This ties in so well with my last several days. I actually DID buy myself flowers on Saturday, I loved them, and even though he was there when I bought them, I guess I was admiring them too much because Elyas gave me a suspicious "Who gave you these flowers, Mom?" Daisies...lots of Daisies.

And you know, I have a person in my life who has been going through something too, a man as it would happen. The big thing I noted is that he returned to his daily "constitutional" which he'd given up since not feeling so hot a while back. I knew that the doctors had done right by him when he was dissapearing for an hour a day at lunch time once more.

It really doesn't take a lot to press the reset button. :)
hokgardner said…
I am so glad to hear that your foot is reacting well to the taping and that you have been pain free. I hope that this is the solution for you.

And dude, you are speaking to the choir today on this. I have not been doing well the last few months, and the big thing that's missing is taking a little time each day for ME. I'm working at getting better at taking my time, even if it's just for a walk around the block or knitting for 10 minutes.
Ann in NJ said…
While I'm sure men do this too, as a whole it is women who feel they have to be everything for everyone - else. All the time. It seems to be a societal thing as much as anything else, we're not allowed to say "no" because then we are a bad _____ (fill in the blank, mom, wife, employee, etc.).

I am a firm believer in "me" time, although not always a good practioner. And I'm learning to find rewards (maybe reinforcments?) for myself that are not food-related. But it's an ongoing process.

So glad to hear you are having good results and a smart doctor! Looking outside at the uber-yucky day this has become, I'm thinking a cheap bouquet of flowers might be just the thing.
Miri said…

Sorry for the yelling there. It's just this kind of motivational boost that's your gift... Even when you're realizing something for yourself, you've given me a lift in my spirit. And some good hints on how to be nicer to me.

I'm so glad your foot is better. Be sure to tell me when your talk show appearances start... prolly a good idea to coincide them with your new book's publishing!
Anonymous said…
I am SO happy for you - truly happy. I was feeling so sad thinking that nothing could be done about this situation. I'm so happy that this doctor had an epiphany that saved the day. I love your idea, and I would hate to think that one has to feel chronic pain to appreciate the little things, the goodness in life. So, I shall take your advice and do something nice for me. I'm just not sure what yet... Oh, and just in case tomorrow gets really crazy like today was... HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!
Unknown said…
yay on the foot, simply yay. Last night I let the dogs sleep on my bed all night (an indulgence for both them and me) and tonight I plan to go home for a bath...a lovely, warm, bubby, jetted tub of goodness. I'll let you know how it goes.
Mary Ellen said…
That's awesome news - if the orthotic could replace surgery? Whether or not it does, this tape experiment has shown you a way to be pain free, and that's so wonderful.

I love your idea. I have trouble with personal indulgences - but - for you - I'll try.
Susan said…
Great post! I linked it to my blog post today where you can see a picture of my indulgence. You can check it out and enter the blogiversary contest while you're there.

I'm so glad to hear that things are improving with your foot pain!
Karen said…
Thank You for writing this. I know all to well about getting so wrapped up in finishing everything that I don't take the time for myself. Why is it that we make time for yucky stuff but never for the things that make us happy? I have been thinking a lot lately about just doing what makes me happy and not worrying so much about the rest. I needed a little push today, so thanks.

And I am so happy about your foot. I hope whatever you end up doing works wonders for you, you deserve it.
Lynn said…
I totally agree with this! HOwever it's hard to get time for myself when the kids or IO are home. However there was a time last week where the IO had to go into the office (he works a lot from home) and the kids were back in school from being home sick for a week. After I dropped them off and came home to do laundry and clean up the kitchen, at 11am I stopped, went into the bedroom and watched one of my shows WITHOUT INTERUPTION!! While I have DVR on my Dish and I can pause tv, after awhile you completely lose track of what the show was after you've paused it a million times and it takes you almost 2 hours to get thru an episode of NCIS. Having that uninterupted time for myself was WONDERFUL!
Susan said…
I was just thinking about your foot today - so glad it is being resolved in such a simple fashion.

I totally agree with the little indulgences. I get a pedicure every couple of months - turn off the phone and enjoy it completely. I also love bringing home flowers. Today I bought myself a pretty new binder for my work desk - just because...
Great news about the foot taping and the possible avoidance of surgery. I'll keep my fingers crossed. The lesson I take away is: find the kind of doctor who can't sleep until s/he has a bead on your problem.

I'm afraid I'm one of those people who makes too much time for herself already! Now where did I put that list?
Unknown said…
Well. My bath last night was lovely.


While I was soaking, a bad dog who shall remain un-named (Ferguson) stole a Costco-size bag of Chex mix off the counter and ate THE WHOLE THING!!!!!!!
Beautiful idea! I wonder if that half a box of Trefoils yesterday counts? Naaah - I'll do something else. Something pretty...right after I finally make myself the time to sit down at the computer and order some more size 2 DPN's from Knitpicks and stop berating myself for only being able to find 2 of the ones I already own. Enough already! They're just knitting needles.
Mokihana said…
What a wonderful idea, and I'm so happy about your foot!! I'm grateful you didn't have to go through surgery, too.

One tiny nice thing just for me? Wow. Usually I just do exactly what you write about, let the "me things" just slide by.

Gonna give it some thought and then I'm gonna do it! Thanks Barb!
Anonymous said…
I'm giddy for you!! I've seen those feet up close remember? I hope all your days are pain free.
ps...high 70's in austin today...blue skies. smiles
Ann Marie Hart
STQ said…
Hooray for you!! And happy birthday...late? Looks like it may have been in the last couple of days. And since you didn't blog about it (that I read, anyway), it must not have been a BIG birthday! :) So happy to hear about your foot - I have a friend who has chronic foot pain and it makes everything hard, I know. I have trouble making time for my favorite hobby, because it's quilting, and it's so time and space consuming, it takes too long to get it all out if I don't have several hours to spend. But, my boys are going golfing tomorrow. Might be just the time. Thanks for reminding us - you're the best, Barb!
BC Cook said…
I too have a FULF. Fusion surgery last October. A cast for nine weeks!
I'm kind of depressed that I still can't walk any distance and can't seem to find a shoe that doesn't make the foot hurt and not thrilled about having to revert to the walking boot much of the time -- but your blog is encouraging.
Thanks for the good spirits.