After I broke my toe, we headed to LA on a July 4th getaway. There were 4 of us so we drove. (Not by camel, by the way, they come in later.) For perspective, our drive was about 9 hours in the car without traffic and 12 (as we experienced coming back) with traffic. Lots of time for toe swelling.
I was determined not to let this itsy bitsy digit bully me. I mustered my mental power. It seemed silly for a toe to slow down the rest of me. I tried to keep it elevated on the dashboard in the pretzel position (tweaking my knee in the process) so I wouldn’t smash the teen in back of me.
When we arrived at Cousin Sharon’s house in LA, I discovered the next morning we’d be walking about five blocks to the infamous Pacific Palisades parade fully decked with its camels and skydivers…and two bands all the way from Minnesota oddly enough. I knew I could make it there eventually, but could potentially miss the parade due to my slow gait. Sharon had a wheelchair we could use. (She’s so handy.) I had no ego issues. It seemed like a good solution.
The next day off we went to the parade, me in the wheelchair, my husband pushing. He was a great pusher especially considering the very non-ADA friendly Palisades sidewalks. They were not easy to navigate. Feeling dependent on Independence Day was not lost on me, but something even bigger happened. A revelation. While in said chair, I noticed people passing avert their eyes–heads, actually. Now this isn’t entirely unusual in LA. (It’s like some of the people think you’ll get a piece of their soul if they look at you in the eyes.) But in this case, people actually seemed to intentionally look the other way with their whole heads.
That dynamic didn’t even occur to me until I sat in that chair. And then I started thinking: do I do that? When people go by in wheelchairs, do I pretend to see a really interesting bird across the street up on a roof instead of making a human connection? I hope not. I’ll have to make an all out effort to NOT do that because I saw how shallow it was from my spot in the rolling chair.
That evening we went out with friends to the very delicious Tar & Roses in Santa Monica. Awesome place and so fun to sit with our friends on the back patio as many small plates dropped in, dishes like fiddle ferns, inked linguine, bruschetta, roasted peppers with bonita chips dancing on top–you get the idea. These were all back-up dancers to the main act, a scored snapper that appeared on a pedestal. Behold. The snapper at Tar & Roses…
Between all that, pink bubbly rose and a few bottles of Nebiolo, I’d completely forgotten about my toe. That amnesia continued through our after-dinner drinks and dancing, although I did manage to have the mind presence to lift my toe up during the dancing part. I would suggest NOT doing that unless you want to mess up your knee and get blisters on your feet. In this case, though, those 3 hours of dancing were TOTALLY worth it.
When we got back to reality the next week, I headed out to the accupuncturist in hopes that he may be able to bring the swelling in my knee down. (I’d been icing it at the advice of the chiropractor.) NO ICE, he said. The Chinese have studied ice vs. heat for thousands of years and have found, by watching nature, that heat heals and ice makes problems worse. He put the needles in, stuck me under a heat lamp, and voila: just like new in 30 minutes! He then loaded me down with some Chinese herbs and topicals that seemed to help because today I’m back on the treadmill, in the pool, and in the weight room.
I’m not picking sides on ice vs. heat for everybody. What I think, though, is each injury gifts us the opportunity to try different healing philosophies, using our bodies as a lab. If one system isn’t working, why not try another? And if a little dancing along the way makes it worse, oh well. It’s totally worth it.