...since I've given a good, old-fashioned Foot Update. What's a Foot Update, you ask? It's a special kind of Eli James creation, a missive of little to no artistic value, which provides crucial medical information to Eli James's "Foot Buddies."
Not to be confused with a gay porn site for foot fetishists (just discovered this), Eli James's Foot Buddies are that rare breed of person who are interested in the details of the long and inconclusive recovery period involving Eli James's effed up metatarsophalangeal joint. (...interested enough, anyway, to read the blog entries involving the joint's many adventures over the past four months.)
Here's the scoop.
My metatarsophalangeal joint is still a mess of insecurities. (Partially inherited from daddy, no doubt.) I still have to use crutches to get down the sidewalk on most days; my armpits are a nice solid black and blue. However, and here's the kicker, there is a modicum of hope on the horizon. It seems the idea of a future that includes walking has shifted from outside chance to remote possibility. I was recently given a reluctant thumbs-up by my surgeon, who was amazed at how the far the toe was able to bend upon last examination. His amazement was, as usual, countered by a few choice words of pessimism: "I really didn't think you'd be doing this well."
Yes, well, thanks doc. From you I shall take this as high praise. This is the man who when I first walked into his office looking for answers declared, "It's ominous."
When I asked, "What are my options?" he replied, "You play the hand you're dealt."
It's been a fun 12 months of medical exploration.
But, okay, my big toe is proving more resilient than expected - so that's reason to rejoice. Its newly bendy qualities are largely due to the work I have been doing under the tutelage of my physical therapist, a Kiwi ex-rugby player and boxer so tough he's basically intimidated my big toe into doing whatever he says.
My toe's resilience was put to the test last weekend, when I fell off my new bicycle. That's right, I recently shelled out some hard earned cash on a machine pretty much designed to destroy me.
I had a great first half-day with the bike, a Schwinn Le Tour IV from the 80's, purchased with some difficulty at Brooklyn Vintage Bicycles in Sheepshead Bay.
Why did I get a bike? Good question. I'll rephrase it in a way that's probably closer to what you'd actually say: "Why in God's name would you buy a freaking bicycle, you jackass? Do you have damaged cartilage in your brain too?"
No, not that I know of. But I understand your question. I got a bicycle for three reasons: 1) it would allow me to exercise using my legs. Since my former pastime, running, is still out of the question, this seemed the next best thing. The big toe doesn't have to factor in while pedaling. 2) a bicycle would allow me to be outside and enjoy the open air. Please remember that I did not leave my apartment for almost two months following the surgery, as per doctor's orders. 3) All my doctors and my physical therapist said it'd be a good idea to get a bike, and in fact encouraged it. The only warning from each of them was: don't fall off. And each time, it was said with a laugh.
So that's why. I was given no reason to believe it was too soon, or too stupid. I was given every reason to go ahead and do it.
Thank God for friends with cars. It's the only way I could have gotten the bike. I've been collecting them carefully (friends with cars, not bikes) since the operation took place, and have proved myself willing to do anything to keep them around. I'm not above lowering a great many principles to have access to free motorized transportation. For someone who never had a friend with a car in New York City before, I can now pinpoint a car-owner at 30 yards, and can have my lips pursed and ready for ass-kissing in a matter of seconds.
So a very nice car-owner, fooled by my state of infirmity, drove me down to this remote area of Brooklyn named after a sheep's head, where a guy with a hundred bikes in various states of disrepair took about four hours to unearth a vintage two-wheeler and gouge me for 240 bucks.
That night I came to an emergency stop behind a livery cab on Franklin Avenue, a cab which was unloading a bunch of hipster girls in Rubik's cube shaped jewelry. As one does, I put my foot down to stop myself falling over. You guessed it - that foot was the right foot, also known as the wrong foot.
I screamed. I nearly cried. I hadn't bent my toe back that far in over a year, and certainly not since the surgery. I somehow managed to limp out of the street and onto the sidewalk, clutching my bicycle and a nearby mailbox for support. My head was in my hands. The toe was throbbing. My eyes were closed and my entire face was clenched. The extreme physical pain was made worse by the psychological stress: "Dear God, what have I done? In an instant, I've ripped through all of the paper-thin patchwork covering the hole in my cartilage.”
Perhaps the most distressing thing was that nobody stopped to ask me if I was okay. I was on my own. No one stopped to say, "Hey, you okay?" certainly not any of the Rubik's Cube girls who had to have seen it all happen. One good thing that shall certainly come of this whole experience is an increase in my own outward compassion.
It was three days of hell. The joint was on fire around the clock. I even went to my improv class the day after the incident, in an effort not to continue to let my foot make me miss things. I taped up my foot before leaving the house. I tried to copy the way my physical therapist had taped it up several weeks before. I must have done it wrong, because the pain got worse.
I stayed in class anyway. All for art.
It took a steady, unbroken day-and-a-half of immobilization, elevation, and basic cryotherapy to get the foot back to stasis. It took two more sleepless nights. Somewhere around mid-Monday, the joint went back to its non-emergency level of stiffness and soreness. The fire had gone away.
A visit to my doctor two days later confirmed that I hadn't broken anything. But whether or not any kind of monkey business took place with the cartilage remains to be seen.
In two weeks I will have the long-awaited MRI that will map how well or not well enough the fibrocartilage is covering over the damage. T2 mapping, it's called. Hopefully then I'll get the official, and not the partial, thumbs up. Maybe even the crutches I've been lugging down the street will begin to disappear. What we're hoping not to see is evidence that another surgery is required.
Needless to say, my bike has been sitting in my apartment untouched since the day I brought it home. I'm sure I could get on it and try to be more careful. But I'm also sure there's no fighting gravity, and that New York is a hotbed of unexpected turns and complete general chaos. The last thing I need is another foot foul.
And yet I yearn. I see him each day leaning dormant against my wall and say, one day, Mr. Schwinn Le Tour IV, if indeed that is your real name - you will get rode hard.
I say a somewhat similar thing to the squash racquet I have hanging inside my linen closet.
Thanks for reading, Eli James's Foot Buddies (and not the other kind of foot buddies... I mean, I don't know, you could be both, but I just don't want to invite confusion on this.) You have my heartfelt gratitude.