I have a high tolerance for pain.
Years ago while running up the basement stairs in too long flannel pants, I caught the big toe of my left foot under the hem, propelling me forward. Limped and bitched into the kitchen to stop the bleeding then casually went back to cooking dinner. I began to fade a little, felt oddly warm and sank to the kitchen floor for a quick sit. Awoke a few minutes later flat on my back, the banana clip holding up my hair broken in two pieces under me. It was the first (and only) time I’d ever fainted and it was weird. I wondered if that’s what dying instantly is like, one minute your sauteing and the next, not so much.
Found the cat sleeping happily in the next room, oblivious to my antics. So much for pet heroics and dialing 911 with a paw (at least she didn’t try to eat my eyeballs while I was out.)
I stumped around on a growing-ever-more-purple toe for the rest of the weekend. Family came to visit, my then sister-in-law pampering me with a super gentle pedicure complete with gold leafing over polish to boost my gimpy mood. The other ran by with the Advil (I had only Bayer circa early 90’s in the house) and I recall her look of horror as I emphatically stated, “No, no! It can’t be broken. Look I’m wiggling it. See?” She smiled and nodded, then I caught her sideways glance and mouthing, “I don’t see it.”
So 72 hours later, and unable to fit into any shoe cute or not, I acquiesced and headed to the doctor. I’d fractured my big toe nearly stem to stern, one continuous horizontal break, holding on by a thread. Such an impenetrable shield can be good. The tiny tattoo buzzed and pricked over my ankle bone two decades ago felt mostly like an annoyance.
And bad. Today I met with an orthopedic doctor. He tapped my knee with the Fred Flintstone hammer, bent me this way and that, laid me down flat to push my legs over my head and watched as I walked on tip toes then heels. X-rays taken last week showed an old avulsion fracture to my hip and the primary care clinic insisted a specialist follow up. He asked a lot of questions, pulled and pretzeled my lower limbs into interesting origami shapes. He confirmed the X-ray showed “past trauma” (his words). We looked over the images on his laptop (my bones, btw, thin and gorgeous) and he pointed out a tiny area where muscle had pulled away a bit of bone, a smooth tiny thing like a polished fresh water pearl. It was old, he said, and shouldn’t be the cause of pain now. He suggested PT, just a few sessions and guidance on alternative yoga poses and stretches. Possibly an MRI down the road. We chatted as he wrote the prescription then stopped suddenly.
“That’s odd.” Something in the X-ray caught his attention and he squinted in closer. “Let me look at this again. Huh!” He looked at me puzzled and asked, “Do you have any hamstring pain?" No, no pain I said, just tend to be a little tight.
“This here,” he said, bringing my focus to what looked like a tiny, thin worm inching up my pelvic bone. “I didn’t see this until we zoomed in, but compare the left and right.” He swept his pen side to side over the portrait of my lovely bones, then stopped over the worm. “This is another avulsion.”
Two hip fractures, both old trauma and I have no idea when or where or how or why. Told the manfriend he’s welcome to upper arm punch the guy pals and claim a sexual injury at his hands (“I hit that so hard, I cracked her!”)
I do feel things. I'm absolutely timid to resume physical activity. That makes me feel sad. I’m on self-imposed cowgirl straddling lock down. That makes me feel frustrated (however alternative positions are doing wonders for his abs). I'm feeling apprehensive about what lies ahead since there remains the possibility (given the age of the avulsions) the pain in my hip is “referred,” or pain felt elsewhere than at its true site. Like in my spine. It makes me feel worried.
Do I exalt in the strong bitch or fear the girl who can burn herself with matches and not feel much of anything?