Staying in My Lane

track 3My first step on the track in months, the first time I ran on the track in more than four years. I used to be a runner but it was in my youth. In my middle years I am more of a walker. As a teenager I ran despite having asthma and breaking five minutes in the mile was a great achievement. Now, walking on the track with low pain is a celebration.

A stress test on the treadmill is difficult and dangerous. The wellness exam at work didn’t require it but the people providing the exam encourage it and almost shame you if you pass. I agreed and I have regretted it ever since. While this injury could have happened at any time, the stress test was a feat of stress: in my left foot. Long story short, a broken sesamoid bone that resulted in surgery and several years of therapy, treatments, medications, injections, corrective shoes and periods of depression. There are two pea-shaped sesamoid bones in the ball of each foot connected to the first metatarsal, and what purpose they serve, I don’t know.

There are much greater challenges than dealing with the painful effects of minor foot surgery. Cancer, diabetes, blindness, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, degenerative disc disease are all much worse than this little ailment of mine so no sympathy asked for or needed.

We live in a very health conscious society where the gap between those who are in physical health and the rest of us is growing wider each day. Granted, there are many physical activities than running or even long walks. I can name many of them but I tend to focus on what I can do with feet on pavement or the rubberized track surface. Why is that?

Since I can’t encourage any of you to guess, I’ll tell you. Call it stubbornness, refusal to age gracefully, or needing to find a way to just tolerate the pain. I am okay with wearing corrective shoes; what they provide in comfort is worth the sacrifice in style. Besides, lots of people I know run including colleagues and friends, like John Rinkenbaugh, who have weathered injuries and the march of time.

I have no illusions about being a regular or serious runner. Those days are over, but I’d like to find a tolerance, where I can walk longer distances and reconnect with the track even if it is short gallops mixed in with a brisk walking. I’d be okay with that, even if little old ladies pass me by.

I’d never even heard of a sesamoid bone before I broke one. Imagine a small, jagged piece of glass in your foot, and with each step irritating the tissue and nerves around it. To be honest, the pain of that is less than the resulting impact of the surgery where I gained scar tissue and permanently disturbed nerve bundles in my foot. Getting beyond it is not impossible, just one step at a time. And just for the record, I’ll never stay in my damn lane.

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