Entering world of 'managing' injury pain

The Baltimore Sun

They say growing old is not for sissies.

Apparently, it isn't for the barefoot, either.

I broke my foot. Again.

Faithful readers of this column will remember that I broke my foot a year or so ago while moving the hose in the yard. I was barefoot that time, too, and I stepped in a hole. I told people it had happened during full-contact gardening.

This time, I was safe inside my kitchen, putting groceries away and making a pot of spaghetti sauce on a rainy Sunday night, when I slammed my baby toe into a chair leg and broke the same bone in the same foot.

(My friend Norine says I have to come up with a better story. She is right. So, I am telling people I did it while auditioning for Dancing with the Stars, which has morphed into some kind of celebration of The Older Woman featuring Jane and Marie.)

But, as you might imagine, I have started to think of shoes in a different way. Not as a fashion statement. Not even as something comfortable to wear during cold weather.

I have started to think of shoes as protective clothing. Something you have to wear -- apparently after a certain age -- to keep from breaking bones in your feet.

I feel the same about eyeglasses.

I don't use glasses to correct my vision. Nothing seems to work for that, least of all these incredibly expensive progressive lenses I wear. All they do is guarantee that I cannot see at any distance.

But they are good for protecting your eyes from sharp objects.

I managed to poke myself in the eye while not wearing my glasses and the result was a nasty purple bruise on my eyelid that required the purchase of eye shadow in a new color to match.

(The only good thing about these injuries -- all of which I attribute to the ravages of aging -- is the shopping. Right now, I am in the market for some cute new socks that will peek out nicely from the tip of my orthopedic boot.)

I suffered a puncture wound in my upper leg when the tip of the paring knife I packed in my lunch managed to find its way through the canvas bag and my pants.

And I have a series of terrible bruises on the shin of one leg, the result of a collapsing stadium seat.

During a football game, I attempted to step on a seat to reach my own in the row behind. Suddenly, the seat folded, painfully trapping my leg.

Get this -- I was trying to be nice to the old man in my row. I didn't want him to have to stand up again after painfully arranging himself and his walker in his seat.

I guess we old people are going to have to start playing rock, paper, scissors.

And those are just the injuries I can explain.

There are a number of bruises that have just sort of appeared. I am sure there is a perfectly good reason for the brownish blooms on my arm or my thigh. I just don't know them because I didn't take time to record them.

(I think these injuries are without a history because they happened to a woman. We just seem to keep barreling through life, stopping only for blood or serious auto-body damage.)

The treatment of our injuries changes, too, from doctors who no longer say something simple like, "Some ibuprofen should do it," and start talking about "pain management." Doctors who no longer say things like "You should be fine in a couple of days," and start saying things like, "four to six weeks."

As you can see by my example, aging requires clothing choices that go beyond modesty and decorum, all the way to safety. Pretty soon, I am going to have to tape my shoes to my ankles before I leave the house, the way pro football players do before they leave the locker room.

I am not far from hip pads, a flak jacket and a mouth guard.

"Welcome to the NFL," I tell the rookies in this aging game. "Not For Long."


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