Tiny misstep brings a heap of pain and grief


Recently, I wrote about the frustrations of caring for an English cottage garden in the not-very-English Maryland weather.

I would like to add "stepping in a hole and breaking your foot" to my list.

I was moving the sprinkler that helps me create my fake English humidity, stepped badly on my bare foot and snapped a bone.

I don't mean to sound like a martyr, but I am so used to pain that I didn't realize how much damage I had done until I woke up the next morning and found an eggplant where my foot used to be.

I had the sense to go to the doctor, but not before I cleaned up the kitchen, put in a load of wash and went into the office to take care of some phone calls and paperwork.

That's why women die of heart attacks. We have to cross everything off our "to do" list before we mention the chest pains to someone.

Anyway, I made a visit to my long-suffering primary care physician, who has seen me through more than my share of hysterical cancer scares. I am one of those women who made a bargain with God to let me live until my children were launched, and now that they are both out of high school, I am certain he is ready to call in my marker.

She took one look at the X-rays and said, "You're going to be waking up in a pool."

It was the first in a series of Barbaro jokes to come my way. The Kentucky Derby winner, who, like me, took a bad step, woke up from surgery on his broken leg to find himself in a swimming pool so that he would not thrash about and injure himself further.

"I don't have time for this!" I howled, tears of pain and frustration burning my eyes. But she was candid with me.

"Do you have any idea how many times a day I hear that?" she asked, exasperated. "Especially during flu season. What do you want me to do?"

Chagrined, I admitted that there were worse diagnoses and, indeed, I had imagined most of them.

My son was the first family member I was able to reach, and he pledged his services as chauffeur. "I'm home for a month. I will drive you everywhere you need to go. This is not a problem," he said.

And it certainly wasn't. For him, anyway. He left for Six Flags amusement park while I languished at home with my new friend, the massive Velcro boot.

My husband, who was already in the dog house for scoring three big zeroes this young calendar year - he missed Valentine's Day, our anniversary and my birthday - was MIA for this mishap as well. But he tried to make up for it by telling me I had suffered a thoroughbred's injury.

"You are, of course, referring to my regal bloodlines and my majestic carriage," I said.

Actually, he said, he was referring to the fact that I was such a galloping multitasker that I was more likely to perish than to survive restraint and incapacity.

"That's why they woke Barbaro up in a swimming pool," he said. "So he wouldn't thrash himself to death."

"I heard," I said.


To hear audio clips of selected Susan Reimer columns, go to baltimoresun.com/reimer.

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