The morning of the first Friday in March, I went to see a podiatrist. My foot had been hurting, and the next morning my son was returning from college for Spring Break, bringing with him a Japanese exchange student who was graduating and wanted to investigate possible graduate schools in my hometown of Washington DC. My plan was to pick them up Saturday morning at the train station and head to Williamsburg for an American historical experience before we spent several days in DC. Since touring an urban area requires a lot more walking than my usual suburban life, I wanted to make sure that my foot was OK.
Except it wasn’t. An X-ray revealed that I had arthritis in the middle of the top of my foot, which, combined with my horribly fallen arch had created a hairline fracture on the top of one of foot bones. He prescribed new shoes and orthotics, a boot, and only using my foot one hour a day. I told him the latter wasn’t going to happen, at least over the next week, because we were going to DC but I signed on to all the other requirements.
We had a lovely visit to DC until we got the email from the college telling the students that they couldn’t come back. Not a great ending to a what had been a wonderful Spring Break.
This week, I woke up to find my foot hurting. After giving it a day or so, I called to make an appointment, and the first available was this morning…the first Friday of March. I didn’t notice it at the time, but then I realized…it was exactly a year from my first visit to my foot doctor.
Sure enough, same diagnosis–arthritis had caused another fracture in my foot. The only long-term solution is foot surgery, but I don’t want to do that. However, when the doctor found out I hadn’t replaced my shoes since I got them last March, he thought maybe they had broken down and that caused the new problem. I usually use thing until they are totally worn out, but apparently that’s not going to work with my foot situation. So I’m back to the boot and limiting the use of my foot to one hour a day (which, honestly, is probably not going to happen, but I will stay off my foot as much as possible).
Fortunately, I had kept my boot from last year, which my talented artist son had decorated for me. So I strapped it on, ordered myself some new shoes, and prepared for at least three weeks off my feet.
It seems crazy that my doctor visits were exactly one year apart. It gives me that déjà vu feeling. In some ways that is good, because even with a week of tromping around DC, my foot healed within a month and hasn’t given me any problems since then…until this week. So I expect a quick return to health this time around.
What is funny, however, is how much things have changed since the me last first-of-March and this first-of-March. Back then, things were heating up about the dangers of coronavirus. But I still thought it was safe to take two young men to DC, although that area had much higher infection rates than those in North Carolina at the time. When we got the email about not coming back, it was supposed to be a delay of two weeks. But eventually, it led to the cancellation of all classes on campus for the year, as I did the same for my literature classes. THANK GOODNESS for Zoom, or WebX, or Google MeetUps, or whatever technology everyone used to keep not just education, bot life going under the circumstances of the pandemic.
But I look back, and realize I had no clue, even with the cancellation of college, of how things would be. I accepted the cancellation of the remainder of the Spring semester, but assumed everything would be OK by the fall. How wrong I was.
So today marks a year since my son has been at college and since I taught in face to face classes. To be clear, his college continued this past academic year. However, while online education can teach many things really well, one area it does not is studio arts, which is my son’s major (he was supposed to be doing printmaking this year, which is something you really can’t do at home or in the dorm).
I’ve learned a lot in the past year, as I believe my son has, even if he has been at home and doing online academic classes from the community college rather than the hands-on arts classes at his four-year college that he misses so much. I didn’t have a clue what the next year would bring. There is so much that I would never have predicted about how the time from last March to this March has unfolded.
This March, I’ve got the same foot problem. But I think I’ve got a much better idea of the reality of the coronavirus, of current politics, and of what I and my family and other families like ours can deal with. Most of all, being caught up on the science and the charts and the other data, I feel my optimism that things have turned a corner and things will be better is based on perhaps a sadder but wiser truth. I, like the country in general, wasn’t prepared for the worst of 2020. But I, hopefully like the country in general, am ready for a realistic and cautious expectation of better days soon.
So I’ll stay home and stay off my foot for a month. But I have a feeling that contrary to what Shakespeare say, April will be a wonderful month, both for me and for the country.