Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Feet and Freedom

July 4, 2017

Hobbling around like an old man is not how I envisioned spending the Fourth of July. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining. I may be hobbling, but I am still getting around. Just not as easily as I did a week ago. Two years ago, it was my right foot. “Plantar Fasciitis” was the diagnosis, commonly but inappropriately called a heel spur. There is no spur, and the problem isn’t the heel, but the tendons that spread across the bottom of the foot. For whatever reason, they get inflamed, and the pain is felt primarily in the heel.

Last time, I went to a podiatrist who prescribed arch supports in my shoes. When that didn’t work, he resorted to cortisone shots in my heel. Twice. Lots of fun, that was! Finally, I was able to arrange for physical therapy. Twice a week for six weeks, I showed up, limped my way through the waiting room and into the therapy room littered with tables, weights, machines, and therapists. I was instructed in a series of exercises which I did faithfully, after which one of the therapists would massage my foot before icing it.

Apparently my left foot felt left out (Get it?). It was missing out on all the fun, especially the tender massages by some very nice women. So, a few days ago, it started complaining. “Hey you up there; when do I get to see a little action?” I tried to ignore it. You know, as in, “ignore it, and it will go away.” It didn’t. 

Work still needs to be done, so after taking my son to look at some antique Harley Davidsons for sale, I climbed a ladder to remove an old telephone wire from the house, then another one to sweep the leaves and detritus from the garage roof. After yesterday’s work on my motorcycle and truck, my foot had had enough. By the time we headed to son Matt’s for dinner, it was throbbing. So I hobbled. 

Everyone today is talking about freedom. I haven’t checked social media, but I know it will be filled with posts urging me to ‘like’ or ‘share’ dozens of posts as a sign of my patriotism. I’m not sure how doing so makes me patriotic, but I understand the sentiment. Even though we live in an increasingly bureaucratic state that daily nibbles away at our freedom to live as we choose without interference, we value the concept of freedom. 

My foot reminds me with each painful step what freedom is all about. It’s not freedom to do anything we want; that can quickly become a moral and spiritual bondage to those who choose such a course of action. True freedom is the ability to do what we ought, in the way we ought. There were things I needed to do today, and I did them, but not easily, and not without pain. I didn’t have the freedom to do all the good I would have chosen. Our kids and grandkids went to the beach after dinner. They were going to swim, kayak, and watch the fireworks. Normally, I would have chosen to join them, but after a day’s worth of limping, just going home sounded pretty good to me. 

Linda has been researching plantar fasciitis, and learned that it is caused by small tears in the plantar that if not adequately rested, can worsen and cause permanent damage. Nice. I guess I’ll need to take things a bit easier for awhile so it can heal. Anyway, this Fourth of July, I am grateful for the freedoms we have, and to be reminded by a sore foot that there are many ways freedom can be lost, but only one way for it to be maintained: by paying attention to the little injuries that over time add up, limiting our capacity to live fully and serve well.

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