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A shade taller and a whole lot happier

A comment I’ve consistently received from family, friends and acquaintances following the September amputation of my right foot has been surprise at how well I’ve taken my new situation.


My response has typically been that, hey, I’m healthy. I have friends and family suffering life-threatening illnesses, afflictions that make them feel miserable on top of limiting their mobility every bit as much as mine -- and that actually threaten their lives. So how how can I complain?


Of course, the fact is the road from September to now hasn’t been easy. And it’s been especially difficult watching Laurie having to take on such a disproportionate amount of the physical work it takes just to run a house, even if the kids are long gone.


But I’ve always believed that the worst part of misfortune isn’t the misfortune itself, but rather the mental gloom and darkness that accompanies it. If I can just beat that, or better yet, not allow it in the door in the first place, I’m two touchdowns up before the opponent even gets the ball, right?


I do believe that to be true, in all seriousness. Whether I gleaned that from corporate skill-building seminars during my mid-life career, from on-field coaching and in-class learning from educators during my earlier years, from lessons of faith, or even from observing who I didn’t want to be, it has been a part of me that has proven valuable.


And as a result, the reward seems even greater when measurable progress is achieved and things seem more normalized.


That happened last week, when I was fitted with a shiny new prosthetic foot and lower leg and proceeded to walk right out of the medical office, across the parking lot and into our car for the trip home.


Yes, I pushed a walker, but the movements felt surprisingly natural. And when I got home, I tested slowly walking around the house without a walker or cane, holding onto furniture as I passed.


It was exhilarating!


The funny thing is, I actually feel about an inch taller than I had been previously. One can tell when the view is different, even after a few months of sitting in a wheelchair. Laurie noticed, too.


Our youngest cat looked at me like I must be an intruder, it had been so long since she had seen me move as a normal human. And our Great Pyrenees, Snow, was ready to play immediately, figuring I had finally gotten past this stupid new phase of laziness. Of course, the play wasn’t going to happen, but it wasn’t because I didn’t feel like it.


As the days have passed, the art of walking without limping or wobbling has begun to appear a reachable goal, and that’s even before I begin physical therapy later this week.


I do understand that therapists have a way of bringing into focus just how many skills I’ll need to sharpen to get back to the place I want to be.


But in the meantime, it’s always fun to see just how much better life feels when things start to slip into place – especially if you take care not to let the original misfortune take you down the wrong road.

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