Freedom for my Foot!

Wednesday I went back to the hospital to get my splint cut off and the sutures taken out.  What struck me as interesting as I crutched out to the car in the driveway was how it seemed like I had just done that same thing yesterday, even though I had last gone out front two weeks ago.

After a two hour drive, I finally arrived at the orthopedic clinic at the hospital.  The doctor that brought me back cut the splint off, and I gingerly lifted my foot out of the warm protective shell of the cast. At first it felt great, but very soon after I was aware of how vulnerable and injured my foot really was.  I tried moving it a little and was met with pain in almost every direction.  Then the surgeon came out and examined it and said it looked great, that the swelling had gone down significantly, and that the incisions were healing up perfectly.  I asked about putting weight on it, and he basically scared me into waiting the six weeks necessary for the bone to completely heal, saying that if I mess anything up by putting early weight on it my ankle will turn into a salvage operation and may have to fuse the joint.  As the pain level of my ankle is high, I am content for now to restore its full mobility before I try to bear weight.

foot surgery

Next, we went to take x-rays, and so I crutched down the hall with my exposed foot to the x-ray room. I took the opportunity while waiting, to touch the floor with my foot to see what it felt like.  It was the strangest feeling: the cold floor felt alien, like nothing I’ve ever touched before.  It felt like something was attached to the bottom of my foot, but there was nothing.  The experience was alien and frightening, and after resenting the cast for almost a month, I desperately wanted to be back in its safety.  They gave me a hard boot with a soft interior lining that velcros onto my leg, which instantly made my foot more comfortable.  Back at home, I began the work of restoring mobility, but it was difficult.  Spreading my toes, and rocking them up and down is the only thing I can do without pain.  I started massaging my foot, and moving it up to the point of pain, and down to the point of pain, and repeating that process.  I got the splint off on Wednesday, and now it is friday and I have probably increased my range of motion by about .5 inches.  In order to get over the alien floor feeling, I have also been resting my foot on the floor, and making an attempt to move my toes around and feel the texture.  This is somewhat difficult because as I lower my foot, my ankle swells up and I lose mobility, and attempting to move it initiates an uncomfortable tight feeling, as if everything is being stretched to its limit.

The doctor tells me they had a lot of work to do during the surgery, so no doubt a lot of the
pain is from the operation itself.  But there are definite effects from simply having my leg encased in a warm soft protective shell for a month.  The largest visible effect is the size of my calf muscle.   After only a month of non-use, it has become soft and small, and barely useable.  I can contract it halfway, but only with great focus and difficulty.  This speaks well of exercise and strength training, but more importantly, it speaks well of shunning a lifestyle of comfort in general.  What happens to our bodies, and our minds when we are surrounded by constant protective comfort?

It is only through the work of bearing and balancing my entire body weight that my right calf has managed to maintain something of its former size. Through difficulty and challenge.   Without use, what happens to your body also happens to your mind, and your will in general.  This experience has taught me the importance of providing my life with challenges and difficulties. That without them, I will shrivel up and become soft.

The exciting thing about having an injured ankle and a weak calf muscle is the challenge of building them back up again.  I finally have a difficult goal that I need to overcome.  Over these next few weeks I will restore mobility to my ankle. Once I am able to walk on it and regain my strength, I will continue to improve it until it is stronger and more flexible than it ever was before.



Fear vs. Fear

I always hesitate to define things, because circumstances are always more complicated than the definitions we apply to them. The best way to use definitions is to understand that they are only one way of looking at things out of an infinite number of possible ways.

Here I define fear in two ways. Instinctual fear, and surface fear. Instinctual fear does not use the logical brain, but a combination of our biology, experience, and connectedness to the Universe. It is vastly more intelligent than surface fear, which uses the logical brain.  Surface fear keeps people in jobs that hurt their careers and mental health. Surface fear is responsible for societal pressure to do things that aren’t good for you, like taking 10 shots on your birthday because people are buying you drinks.  Or pulling three all-nighters because your tyrannical boss asks you to.  You might be afraid to not do it out of surface fear of losing your job. Deep down however, your instinctual fear lets you know that this isserveimage-4 wrong, and bad for you in the long-term.  Some people may use their surface fear to try to rationalize the choice to work on no sleep. I have a family to support.  I have great benefits here.  Without providing any logical arguments against these thoughts, your Instinctual fear tells you through gut feeling alone that those reasons are irrelevant, and that doing so is wrong.

Have you ever given your self a list of great reasons to do something, but then you don’t do it anyway? Or you do it, and then instantly regret it without a logical reason why?  This is a result of your deeper intelligence. By the time you are 30 years old, you have over 262,000 hours of memories stored in your brain. Your logical brain can’t possibly recall many of them simultaneously, but your Instinct can.  If you’ve ever gone sky diving for the first time, your logical mind can give you a whole list of reasons why what you are doing is safe. You can recall the statistical improbability of something bad happening. You can go over and over the safety equipment and back up measures that are in place, but when you take that step off the plane for the first time, your Instinctual fear recoils in horror.  It recalls watching what happens to objects falling off of high places. It recalls a fall you may have taken from not so great a height that caused an injury, and it provides this information to you in the form of an almost physical barrier to stepping off the plane.

skydiving-fantasticYou may feel this same barrier when considering accepting a high paying job with great benefits that you know will provide security for your family, but deep down you know will crush your soul.  Your surface fear tells you to take the sure thing, but your instinctual fear strongly grabs hold of you and asks you to reconsider.

The next time you have an important decision to make, recognize the forces working within you, and trust your instinctual fear.