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September 15, 2003


One little mis-step, one chance encounter of plaster with phalange, and I have my first broken bone in three decades. We have a 90-degree turn in our hallway: I clipped the corner with my left foot Saturday night, and was astonished at the loudness of the crack that resulted.

My toe doesn't actually hurt all that much, compared to my other fracture experiences. I could run out of the house were it on fire. I walked the dog this morning - albeit slowly enough to make Zeke look back along the leash to see whether I had died.

But there's something distinct from pain, a sense of bodily wrongness or violation, that I find interesting. Every time I've broken a bone - three arms and a toe, as of this week - I've known it immediately. It wasn't hard to tell a couple times, like back when I was ten and riding a bike and I fell and my left arm suddenly was able to bend between the elbow and shoulder. But my stubbed toe Saturday didn't hurt any more than a few others I've lived through, and yet my first words to Becky when she asked about my yelp were "I just broke my toe."

18 hours later, the ER nurse commiserated. "All the toes on one of my feet point in different directions." She was seven years old when they were broken: there was a large, subsequently apologetic horse involved. A much better story than "I walked into a wall."

Before we went to the ER, I tried to finish painting the new trim on the south side of our house, a few dozen feet of two by six the roofers nailed up. Climbing a thirty-foot ladder with a broken toe may not be an inherently bad idea, but squeezing the foot into a steel-toed work boot was.

So instead of painting the trim, and instead of putting myself through the hour-long commute to my job, I'm elevating my foot and watching the Nuttall's woodpeckers as they swoop back and forth across our street. The fog that swept in to cool our part of the county has burned off. I may hobble out to the garden to see if any other plants have joined the sticky monkey flower as heat wave casualties. Or perhaps I'll take another vicodin and snooze.

Posted by Chris Clarke at September 15, 2003 12:20 PM TrackBack URL for this entry:

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Damn, Chris! So sorry to hear about your accident, but I admire your perception. J. broke his shoulder a couple years ago, skiing, and it took him two weeks to get to the hospital because he was convinced it wasn't broken - he'd never broken a bone before and thought it wasn't possible. Hope you heal up fast.

Posted by: beth at September 16, 2003 02:08 AM
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Chris: when I tore my Achilles 5 weeks ago, I knew exactly what I had done too--but then had this moronic moment of "if I stand perfectly still, maybe it will fix itself." Really. Once I realized that wasn't going to happen, I felt pretty faint.

Hope you heal well. Watching Nuttall's woodpeckers is a fine way to pass the time, speaking from experience. So are crossword puzzles, not quite as hard as the NYT (Vicodin definitely slows things down).

Take care, heal well.

Posted by: Pica at September 16, 2003 07:23 AM
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Sorry, Chris. I'm the kind of person who routinely throws body parts into walls. I've been lucky, so far, I guess, not to have broken any bones.

How I used to envy kids at school with casts, though. Collecting signatures: evidence of attention and friends.

Posted by: Lisa Thompson at September 18, 2003 07:47 AM
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