old (2008), Uncategorized

twenty years later

“How squeamish are you?” asks the nurse as she prepares to change the week-old blood-soaked bandages on my feet.

“Not at all,” I say. It’s been twenty years since I’d seen my mother’s finger dangling from her hand after my father had crushed it beyond recognition while I watched, and I’ve seen even more of the same since then: compound fractures, friends beaten by lovers, stabbings and shootings and plain old violence.

“I can tell you’ve been icing yourself,” she says. “Most people come in all bruised, confused that not following directions has a negative affect.”

“I follow directions well,” I say. “Especially when pain medication is involved.”

And I watch the unraveling, feeling a bit as though I am on Extreme Makeover: Podiatric Edition, though I am surprised when I am left alone, feet exposed, in the room, waiting for the doctor, and I almost faint from the dizziness and nausea.

“It’s normal to take pain medication for up to three weeks,” the doctor tells me when he sees I am distressed. “I can give you more if you want.”

“That won’t be necessary,” I say, because I still have 60 Vicodin and 20 Percocet, enough to do whatever it is will need to be done. If he can just cover my feet, so I don’t have to look at the stitches and wonder why my toes feel as though they are attached to someone else’s limbs, that will be enough.

The pain increases exponentially after my toes are manipulated and rewrapped — What color bandages do you want? the handsome doctor asks. Pink, I say — and driving home brings even more discomfort, mostly physical, with each depression of the clutch, but also mental, images of my mother’s finger flashing back as I think of how foreign my toes looked. I wonder how she recovered from that sort of pain, and for a moment I wish I could ask her.