AND YER POINTE IS...?
12 April 2002
The On Display collab topic
for this month is "a body part." It's up to us how to interpret that prompt.
I'm very aware of my body parts--all of them--these days. After plopping my body and
all of its parts in chairs, either in front of the television, behind a desk, or in front
of a computer monitor for most of my adult life, suddenly my body parts are starting to
move. My body parts (some of them, at least) are getting smaller.
When you go from inactivity to activity after 30 or more years, the first thing you
find is that in the interim, your body parts have forgotten how to work together. You kind
of have to get your body parts to at least talk to each other if you plan to operate some
of the machines in a gym or propel yourself around the block on a bike, with cars
approaching on your left side.
When you start using machines in a gym, you realize how long some of your body parts
have remained dormant.
I actually thought all my body parts would be hurting once I started going to the gym,
but apparently I don't push hard enough, because they've all been treating me very kindly.
Maybe they had a body conference and decided that since it had been 59 years since I'd
done any real exercise, that they should cooperate or I'd never stick with it. All the
major body parts have cooperated, but there are a few renegades.
Who would think that exercise would hurt your toes? Not arms. Not legs. Not back. Not
any big muscles. Toes. Specifically big toes.
When I was a kid I desperately wanted to dance ballet, but I was told I
was too fat and that nobody would let me into a class. I was devastated, but I always
dreamed of dancing on pointe. Up on those toes, leaping into the air, flying across the
stage. I didn't realize at the time how hard ballet was on the feet, and what a difficult
time toes had in ballet slippers. My toes were spared that torture.
There was a time when I grew up and stuffed them into tight pointed shoes, and then
compounded the assault by tottering around on high heels, which jammed them even tighter
into the pointy-toed shoes.
But there came a day when I discovered the comfort of shoes which gave my toes room to
breathe, to stretch out, to have little toe conversations without feeling they were
crammed into a subway at rush hour. These shoes were not subways at rush hour; they were
elesian fields, they were running through the grass and laughing at the sun.
So why did the toes turn on me?
First there was the gout. Well, I thought it was gout. There I was peacefully snoring
away in front of the television and suddenly my right toe demanded attention. Now. On a
scale of 1-10, the pain was a 9. The weight of even a light blanket was painful
Trying to actually get up pushed the pain up to a 10. I hobbled about using a cane
and wondering what I'd done to make the toe act up.
It acted like all the symptoms I'd read of gout and I thought--how
unfair! Here gout is a disease of the affluent, who gorge themselves on...well...on
the kind of food I'd been living on. But I'd repented and promised to sin no more.
Now, on a diet of broccoli and lettuce, I was suddenly having gout.
The doctor did x-rays and came back with the encouraging news that
while there is a touch of arthritis in the toes, it doesn't look bad, and he feels that
with continued exercise (isn't that the medical community's cure for everything?
Fortunately, I was already DOING it) the pain will improve.
But in addition to the sudden attacks of non-gout, the toes hurt
when I walk. The pain radiates back to the top of the foot. I've always
assumed that it's because these babies weren't designed to carry all this weight, and
hoped that as the weight came off, the pain would disappear. I'm probably just
carried away by the flush of excitement at having lost nearly 40 lbs and want it all to
change now, but it's taking its sweet time.
The disappointment in this is that it pretty much eliminates
significant walking as another source of exercise. The treadmill is rather forgiving
and its bouncy surface isn't too bad, but if you get me on concrete for any length of time
walking becomes an activity that's Not Fun.
Fortunately, you use different muscles for biking, so it's a good
thing that I have already taken up that sport.
In the meantime, I continue to lose the weight. I continue to
exercise the offending digits. And I hope that some day I'll really be able to enjoy
walking. (I'd say "enjoy walking again, but since I never did it on
any grand scale, I suppose that's not quite accurate.)
I'm also treating the toes by taking my glucosamine with
chondroitin, and my SloMag and being ever so gentle to my feet and hoping that if I'm nice
to them they will eventually...uh..."toe the line."
By the way, I've had another email from another friend who wants to join
our biking group. This may end up being a women's biking society before long.
Also, just to prove how obsessive I get about new projects, I went out and bought books
today on bike trails in No. California, and more specifically the SF Bay Area. The
books offer some flat trails. (I can hear Terri chuckling already).
So if you look out your window and see a group of wild and crazy women
wobbling by on their bikes, huffing and puffing, some weekend in the next few months, give a wave, it's probably