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What You Can't See

Original post made by Simply Sterling, San Ramon, on May 6, 2013

I adopted Holly (a female bichon-frise/shih tsu) several years ago. She arrived a few days before Christmas. She came with her crate, collar, bed, bowl, leash, toys and treats. Her elderly owner could no longer care for her so a friend put Holly on Craigslist. I was lucky enough to find her.

Holly hadn't been with us a week when disaster happened.

I woke up one night about 4 a.m. and not wanting to wake my husband or Holly, I didn't turn on a light before heading for the bathroom. Having lived several years in this house I felt at ease in the dark. It was then that I stepped on a rawhide bone. My left foot came down on it at my arch causing my tendons and ligaments to stretch and tear. The pain was excruciating. I stifled my cries, grabbed an icepack from the freezer, and limped to the living room sofa. I was in agony. The ice did not help and by 7 a.m. I could no longer wait. I woke my husband and he drove me to the hospital.

While I didn't break any bones, I did do a lot of damage and had to wear a knee to ankle walking cast for the next three months. Stay off my feet as much as possible was the advice. That was not easy as my job involved a lot of standing and walking. The pain continued for months so I popped pills when it got really bad and slept in my cast.

After the fourth month I received a shorter cast which was much easier to get on and off. In the year following my accident I never once put a shoe or slipper on my left foot. By summer I no longer slept in my cast. By fall I could survive without the cast for short periods. Any flexing of my foot was torture. I walked funny but was glad I could walk at all. There were times I thought I would never walk normally.

I went to physical therapy. No improvement. Time seemed to be the best medicine. When it was obvious my foot would not be a quick fix, I applied for a handicapped placard for my car and was grateful for it. If I had to walk to the milk coolers in the back of the supermarket I limped by the time I got back to my car. My husband took over our grocery shopping. I dreaded running errands.

It was during this time that I realized how important handicapped parking locations were.
In some cases they were at the front door of the store and in other cases they were far from the entrance. I couldn't figure out why this was but I soon stopped shopping at those stores. I also learned that people scrutinize you. Without a cane, walker or wheelchair, I looked like a healthy human being. No one could ever know how much pain I was experiencing. You can't see pain. If I had a cast on or limped as I did in the beginning, I was accepted as handicapped. Later I was not.

More than five years since my accident, the pain continues intermittently depending on how much I use my foot. There is nothing the medical world can do except offer me pain pills which I refuse. I look at it this way. Pain is the messenger. It tells me when I am doing something wrong. So I stop. I have also stopped judging others because I can't see their pain.

Holly gave up her large rawhide bones. We found other things to keep her happy and insure my safety. I keep my casts in the closet in case the pain gets too severe. I have my handicapped placard and am grateful for it. It allows me to cut down my walking and makes life easier. I am more observant of things in my path and there are nightlights everywhere in my house. It could be worse…..

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