Thursday, July 14, 2005

My Bum Ankle

Yesterday I was out and around, and my bum ankle started acting up. Pain in the left ankle, stabbing pain on the outward side of the ankle joint. All I could do to walk without limping.

Over the years I've just learned to live with my bum ankle.

Back when I was 15 going on 16, I was out one evening in early June running with my dog. She came to a halt right in front of me all of a sudden with no warning, and I tripped over her and went flying. Landed on my left ankle, pain like fire. My dog was just standing there with her tongue hanging out, like nothing had happened. I got up with great difficulty and (God only knows how) managed to hop back home on my other foot.

The ankle felt like someone had skewered it with a red-hot poker. No, I didn't go to the doctor; this was 1972, and today's obsessive-compulsive hangup with "doctoring" over every last item hadn't yet taken hold of our culture. No blood, no bone fragments poking out through the skin? Fine, let it go.

To be honest, it was three or four days before I was able to set weight on my left foot again. A week later, I was still only just barely able to walk, and that only with great pain. In fact, I walked with a gradually diminishing limp the entire summer. The limp didn't subside, nor did I run again, until the last week of August, when I began cross-country practice.

For years after that, I didn't think much about my ankle. Oh, there was the perpetual tendency of the shoelaces on my left shoe to come spontaneously untied any time I walked any great distance. My friends used to joke with me about my telekinetic shoelaces. It was only years later that I realized this was probably due to walking unevenly: at some point, I switched to wearing leather boots, and when the soles on my boots went through, it was always the sole on the left boot that wore out first.

Then, when I got past 40, I began to notice the pain in my left ankle. Sometimes when I woke up in the morning, that ankle would be throbbing. Or if I did much walking, there would be an aching, stabbing pain in my left ankle. Sometimes not too bad, sometimes bad enough that it was all I could do to walk without a limp.

I have to watch my feet as I'm walking down steps: that left foot has a way of "landing stupid," which has sent me tumbling more than once. And you can forget skiing, or anything that requires that ankle to do anything very clever or complicated.

Yesterday it was, like I say, all I could do to walk without a limp. Still, I'm just thankful that the ankle basically works, and that I can walk. I don't trust doctors, or the health care industry (emphasis on the word "industry"), and I have no intention of turning myself into a cash cow for their unending financial benefit. I come from an older generation which doesn't think in terms of designer clothing for all, or eating out four times a week, or dozens of channels on cable TV, or two snowmobiles in every garage, or expensive and dubious medical procedures for minor physical complaints.


Blogger Grand Moff Trojan said...

Paul, go see an old-timer Dr. About the ankle. My mom-in-law had a "bad knee" that was messed up for a long time, so she FINALLY went to the Dr. She had torn ligaments and would now probably be in a wheel chair now, if they hadn't replaced the whole thing.

Sunday, July 24, 2005 12:08:00 AM  

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