The ankle still feels pretty sore and stiff, and due to something called Carsel Tunnel Syndrome, my heel feels like I’m constantly walking on a pebble.
I’ll take it.
Being housebound and hobbled since Memorial Day has taken a toll on my mental status (if you don’t believe me, just ask my husband). My exposure to human companionship since Memorial Day has been limited to the people at drive through windows (seen from the passenger side), two family visits, doctor appointments and one wonderful lunch outing with a dear friend. Let’s just say I’ve been extra chatty at dinner - the exact time my husband needs time to decompress for the day.
So today’s outing to the doctor and an-honest-to-goodness sit down restaurant was a refreshing change. I never remembered to ask for the temporary handicap sticker, so my husband dropped me by the door and I inched my way up the sloping sidewalk and into the vestibule where they had benches.
Rough terrain has a brand new meaning when you are dealing with unsteady ankles and feet. A six-inch curb, cobblestones, gravel, loose dirt – all menacing obstacles just waiting to send me back to my cast. The benches just on the other side of the door were a welcome sight. In my normal state, I breeze by these little staging areas, usually filled with older women arranging shopping bags or new moms packing strollers, with hardly a glance. Today, I have a newfound appreciation.
Once hubby arrived and we started down the long hallway, he offered his arm to help me over the tiled floor. I couldn’t help but feel a bit self-conscious. Don’t we all want to be viewed as young, healthy and strong? Women my age always seem to be teetering on the edge of that black hole I call “middle aged invisibility”. That awful threshold when you graduate from turning heads as you walk by to people looking right through you as if you don’t exist.
I caught a glimpse of our reflection in the shop windows we passed. It was just a pale shadow, one very tall man helping along a short, shuffling woman. I sighed and looked up at Chuck.
“Oh my gosh – it’s happening. I’m suddenly that limping, slow, obstacle everyone has to go around. I’m becoming that old wom…”
We both veered a little at this point as we came face to face with an older woman coming around the bend in the hallway. She was hobbling slightly with a gimpy leg and carting several shopping bags on her right arm. And in her left hand, she had a cane.
But she wasn’t shuffling along. She was in a hurry and had her eyes firmly set on the door. We were in her way and we did that little bypass “dance” to pass in the hall. It stopped my words and I hoped she hadn’t heard my lament. My husband and I exchanged a quick glance as she passed and we waited until the vestibule doors slid shut before we let out a little giggle.
This woman? Hobbled like me (!), shorter, a little heavier, my senior by quite a few years. She wasn’t leaning on her husband’s arm. She wasn’t casting a worried glance in the shop window. She wasn’t even leaning on her cane. She was brandishing it like a baton – waving it in the air like a Jedi knight, carrying it like a scepter, not a burden. Not invisible. Strong. Fierce.
Thanks Karma. I needed that.