It's exactly a month since I broke my left fifth metatarsal - that startlingly long bone connecting your ankle to your smallest toe. Any number of friends and acquaintances have nodded wisely and declared there's no need to ask how I broke it, all assuming I plunged from my high heels while tangoing.
I've taken grim delight in informing them that, au contraire, I was wearing gumboots at the time.
After a day's gardening and with rain forecast, I was filling the wheelbarrow with a last load for the compost heap when I stepped backwards into a void and came down hard on my buckled foot.
If nothing else - and it would be difficult to identify any other benefits - this last month has been a miniature lesson in empathy for those suffering any kind of restricted mobility.
As described before, I was incapable of using crutches or a stick with any degree of reliability, let alone panache. In fact, the latter was a further health and safety hazard, having slipped on the path between house and road. And I simply don't have enough strength in my arms to support my body weight for more than a few steps at time. After I dispensed with these, I walked flat-footed, to avoid flexing the damn foot. It made for slow, awkward progress.
My confidence was shaken, too, especially after the orthopaedic chap said to beware of uneven ground and walking around at night. And I was nervous of steps and slippery surfaces. An intimation of old age, this - the way your world can steadily shrink around you.
The ortho also told me that if I was involved in a vehicle collision while driving within three weeks of the breakage, my insurance company would probably refuse to pay out.
All that I could have put up with with good grace - after all, friends kindly rallied round and drove me out every day for a latte and my mail. But what's really hurt is that the breakage has stopped me dancing and miserably restricted my footwear.
Heels have been out of the question. If I put a foot wrong, I risk displacing the bone, which would mean surgery and plaster. Anyway, they hurt - something to do with the pressure down through my foot. Even sandals have been no-go, because I feared slipping sideways.
Bad weather, of which there has been quite lot, is no problem because I can wear boots. But through those gorgeous hot days of Christmas, barbecuing and beaching, I was clomping about in sneakers. In a small way I was reminded of my childhood and the ever-present one-kid-per-class who spent his or her primary school years in a corrective boot, usually because of polio.
|A childhood polio|
You just can't dance or feel good - off your own property - in gumboots or sneakers. So I'm signing off for 2012 with this beautiful specimen - one of the last images from my 2011 shoe calendar (go here to order your own for the coming year). Thank you to everyone who read the blog and/or commented. And please stick around!