I don’t know when it started. I don’t know if it started and I never knew it.
But Friday night, I was in the emergency room. My foot was throbbing in pain. I could barely walk on it.
And all the times I thought it might be something else – a blood clot, an infection, me getting old – I didn’t know.
But when I tried to walk, I felt shooting, stabbing pain with every step. It was almost as if I had fallen from twenty stories and tried to land on the ground like I was Iron Man.
Okay, Iron Man wears an exoskeletal suit, but still…
I had no choice. I could no longer ignore the stabbing, wincing pain.
Hello, emergency room…
Next thing I know, I’m wired up with antibiotics and IV drips. The emergency room triage doctor looks at my foot. “Looks like an infection,” he says.
“It feels like I broke it,” I replied. “I can barely walk.”
“Looks more like an infection,” he said.
After much insistence, I was finally carted into radiology and given the X-ray treatment.
An hour later, the emergency doctor returned to my bedside.
“You have a lisfranc fracture in your left foot,” he said, with a tone that implied that his diagnosis was shown up by a person who never went to medical school and who only studied under the internship of Drs. Pierce, Hunnicutt and Winchester.
“How did I get that?” I asked.
“You tell me,” he said, as he and a technician wrapped my leg and foot in a white fiberglass cast. “The kind of fracture you have is the kind that big, burly football players get after years of tackles.”
I don’t understand.
And then it dawned on me. What if, somewhere along the line, I had a stress fracture in my foot – and never knew it? And what if, not knowing I had a stress fracture – I mean, not even realizing what a stress fracture could feel like – I kept on walking and performing my regular daily routines without question? And what if my body, not realizing that my brain is totally clueless about this fracture, continued to compensate for it until it could compensate no more?
Yeah. I somehow broke two metatarsal bones in my foot. So I’m looking at surgery in the near future. And the first person who says, “Chuck, you really stepped in it this time,” you’re gonna get such an ass-kicking when my foot heals.
Saturday morning. I’m in a hospital bed. Doctors and nurses and technicians and dieticians and other -icians are visiting me on a regular basis. New adjustments to my daily medications. New discussions about taking better care of myself.
And this is how screwed up my mind was. I was more concerned Saturday about getting to a charity auction to help get my artworks sold to the highest bidder, so that the charity could make more money and continue its endeavors. Yeah. I’m more concerned about other people than I was about my own health.
Another person visits me. He brings along a big, black boot – almost looks like it was last worn by Frankenstein. “Until you get your surgery,” he said to me, “You’ll need to wear this. It’s a cam-rocker boot, and it will take the pressure off the broken bones in your foot.”
Great. This thing makes me feel like I’m a life-size replica of the SuperToe kicking game.
Friends came to visit me. Other friends called. One person was super-nice and brought me the most important thing I could use at that moment – she brought a cell phone charger for my BlackBerry PRIV. Which was great, because my phone was down to about 3% of total charge at that instant.
As Saturday drifted into Saturday night, I started to drift into a deep sadness. I spent the night watching footage from the C.A.R.E. Channel, one of the hospital’s TV stations. All I saw were peaceful, meditative locations. And all I could think of was … what did I do to cause all this pain to my foot? Did it happen when I visited the Boreas Ponds? Did it happen when I was photographing the meteor shower in Corinth? Did it happen during one of my travels? Did it happen six months ago in that car crash? Why are those clouds so beautiful? Why can’t I find that waterfall and photograph it…
This isn’t fair. This hurts too much.
Sunday morning. An extra hour of sleep. Or in my case, an extra hour of regret.
I realize that this blog is arguably one of the most emotionally open reads in the Times Union platform, so please understand where I am. Sunday morning, I’m talking to a hospital chaplain. I’m scared and I’m emotional and I’m crying. I couldn’t think about anything other than every single onslaught of pain that’s gone through my life.
The chaplain listened. He talked with me. He explained that my journey is not complete. There are more things I will accomplish. There are still strong moments ahead. I must never lose faith and I must never lose confidence. We talked some more. I’m going to be okay. I really needed someone to talk to in that moment.
Later that afternoon, I was discharged from the hospital. I have new medical regimens for my life. And not the least of which is to prepare for some foot surgery and all that that will entail.
This is not fun. It isn’t. I was so hyper-focused on everything else, that I ignored what was happening in my own body.
So yeah, I have a new journey to travel.
And new goals to achieve.
And I’ve got a Frankenboot.
I have to remember that I’ve been through worse and I’ve survived.
This is how things work.
Maybe the Chaplain’s words were true. I can’t give up yet.
Maybe by this time in 2017 … I’ll be able to say I triumphed.
I certainly hope that is the case.