Granddaughters, Bunions, and Courage – KGUA prompt #9

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This week’s KGUA radio writing prompt comes from the repeated words in last week’s submissions.  The words that kept coming up again and again were: trust, passion, peace, end, love, give, life, free, youth, kindness, nature, faith, walk, time, courage, ammunition, people, conviction, black, drown, and potential.

Mark Gross, the KGUA writing leader, asked us to time our free write for ten minutes, limiting us to 200 words.  We were to edit just for spelling and grammar, and send in the draft.

His directions were similar to what I did with seventh and eighth graders in Kittery, Maine and while leading the Teaching of Writing courses at Eastern Connecticut State University and the University of New England.  I would have a discussion, read a passage, or come up with a group activity.  From those activities, I would have my students write for ten minutes to see if they found a topic to take through to a final draft in our writing workshop.  Head down and trusting they’d write, I wrote along with my students.

Mark has given me a taste of my own medicine this week, and for that I thank him.  I chose three words below to run with.  The Walk draft aired on the KGUA Monday Morning Writer’s Hour on June 28, 2020 .

Walk

For the first time in six weeks, Hannah walked with me at the beach in Ogunquit, Maine.  You see, six weeks ago to the day, Hannah had bunion surgery.  First she was on crutches, then two weeks in a walking boot, and then wrapping her foot with surgical gauze twice a day in a hiking shoe.wa

words - ogunquit beach

Ogunquit beach on the southern coast of Maine

Oh, she could move around the house, then our yard, but walking for more than twenty minutes…well she just didn’t want to risk screwing up the operation.  It turns out she was walking on the side of her foot to protect her big toe.  A no no.

But this morning, we woke at five, stretched, then a little after six drove to the wide sandy beach here on the Atlantic.  Being low tide, we walked where the waves were rolling softly to the shore.  She thought she’d go halfway, but then…distracted by the fog, stepping in and around the pools of salt water, we were thirty minutes down the beach before she knew it, nearly to Wells.

Pumped, she headed back into the wind full speed ahead.  I’ve been listening to podcasts as I walk alone during Hannah’s rehab, but this was much better.  Both the conversation and the silence.

 

Youth

Hannah and I are just back from Ithaca, New York where we met our granddaughters for the first time.  Yes, granddaughters!  Reese and Charlotte are our identical twins.  In this crazy Time of Corona, we didn’t know if we’d even see them for six months or even a year!  But when our son and his wife, a nurse no less, invited us to visit the girls three weeks after their births, we were all in to drive 400 miles to be with them.

CR girls nose to nose

Charlotte and Reese

When we arrived, mom and dad hugged us!  Do you know how long it’s been since we hugged anyone else!  Yeah, you do, it’s three months going on a year!

The girls mold together as they lie in their bassinet, just like they were in the womb.  As I sat on the couch knees folded together, I held Reese as she lay sleeping.  Yeah, they sleep a lot.  Then they cry, then mom feeds them, sometimes at the same time, and then the girls sleep some more.

But after three days, they were looking around more and more, checking out their new world.  I look forward to being a part of their lives for a long time.

 

Courage

I have to admit I never really got the white privilege stuff.  As a kid, I was just a kid.  What did I know?  We did live in Radburn, a privileged part of Fair Lawn I learned later as a young adult, a pretty much all white community in north Jersey.  We did take two family car trips to the West Coast.  I just figured lots of kids did that.

words - map of maine

In tiny print, York is on this map

My goodness, I played tennis!  Is that ever a white man’s sport, even though the Williams Sisters took charge of the women’s game for the last twenty years.

I was just going through life.  Living frugally on a teacher’s salary while Hannah stayed home with the kids.  But then we moved from multi-cultural Arizona to white bread Maine.  As such, there were not many families of color here that I knew.  Without a second thought, our kids went to college, had careers.

Of late, I am aware that my white comfort is compromising the lives of so many fellow Americans of color.  Now is the time to have the courage to admit my privileged status and do my part to even the playing field.

I’m listening.

 

Dan and Hannah’s Bunion Surgery – Part Deux

As driving partners in the Bunion 500 for Foot Health, Hannah and her surgeon Dr. Juris are, in the far turn, pulling away from her pathetic little right foot bunion.  Her bunion seems ready to wave the white flag.

Let’s back up, despite how much fun I’m having with the racing metaphor.

On May 13, 2020 Hannah had bunion surgery on her right foot at the Scarborough (Maine) Surgical Center as a day patient.  Both walker and crutches proved beneficial for her rehab.

Bunion2 Hannah with boot

During her first five days, the crutches were valuable in getting up and down the one step from our living room to our outside deck or maneuvering through the small doorway from our bed to the bathroom.  On the other hand, the walker was easier on her arms and wrists as she navigated around the dining room/kitchen area; though it was cumbersome in the hallway turns of our quirky home.  Though, for steadying herself in the shower, the walker takes the pole position!

In time, the crutches threw a piston and crashed into the far wall as they hurt her hands.  Fortunately, five days after surgery, she was put in a walking boot.

Scooting around effortlessly, Hannah regularly rocks seven to eight thousand steps on her Fitbit.  You just can’t keep a good woman down for a long pitstop.

Bunion2 the walking boot

Even so, she is revving her engine in neutral ready to walk with me on the beaches of York and Ogunquit as well as bike our country roads to Mount Agamenticus together.

Hannah did take the recommended Naproxen every twelve hours for the first two and a half days.  But what about the narcotic, Oxycodone, the calling card of opiate abuse?  Hannah was advised to keep ahead of the pain.  So she took a half tablet the first night, then the next morning another half to stay ahead of the pain, even though she felt no pain.

Wondering, then calling the good Dr. Juris, she learned from him to take only the Oxy if she needed it.  She didn’t need it; it wasn’t that she toughed it out, she just didn’t have the pain.

A little later the following week she was slacking by not elevating her foot often enough. She paid the price of some throbbing briefly in the night that went away with her return to elevating, elevating, elevating.

Bunion2 Portland Foot and Ankle

Just two days ago (May 28, 2020) at her second post op appointment at Portland Foot and Ankle, Hannah had the surgical sutures removed (yes, they were painful to even our kids’ tough mother).  For the first time, she saw the five inch surgical scar from the bunionectomy.  Still, she has four to six more weeks of rehab of circling the damn track.

With the warmth of the May sun, friends have stopped by for coffee or tea on our front deck.  People who stayed for an hour or so helped beat the tediousness of being basically quarantined times two!  (Both bunion rehab and Covid-19.)  Others dropped off dinner knowing my culinary skills are limited to take-out chicken burritos from Loco Coco’s Tacos in nearby Kittery.

She’s doing well, ready to take the checkered flag and cruise down victory lane.

Metaphor complete!

Dan and Hannah’s Bunion Surgery

Bunion 1 H at FPC

Early morning at the 1830 First Parish Church Cemetery

Waking early on this Wednesday, May 13, 2020, Hannah and I walk the trails in the woods behind the First Parish Church in town.  It will be Hannah’s last walk for a good while.  As we walk among the beeches and oaks still not leafed out in mid-May, Hannah is subdued.  It’s not the bunion surgery, but the two months of rehab that mellows her mood.

She’s been through long rehabs before with her busted leg from a water skiing accident and another time when her leg was punctured to the bone after falling into a California ravine.  She knows what’s ahead.  There’s no sugar coating this recovery from serious surgery.

Though the others were emergency surgeries, the bunion surgery is “elective,” but oh so necessary; you see, the bunion is compressing the toes on her right foot in a damaging way.

After showering as required before we leave for the Scarborough Surgery Center, Hannah’s spirits lift.  She comments that she’s so lucky to even have the surgery since it’s been postponed before and could have been delayed until the late summer or fall because of the coronavirus.

Bunion 1A H with mask

The 45-minute ride from home in York to the Surgery Center goes smoothly as fewer cars are on the Maine Turnpike due to the Stay at Home order by Governor Janet Mills.  Originally, I was told that I couldn’t come into the building to be with Hannah, but just yesterday we learned that I can be with her as well as during her pre- and post-op.

Though we come with our homemade masks, the Surgery Center expects us to wear their paper masks.  In no time, we are whisked to pre-op.  The words warm, professional, and personable describe each of the nurses and doctors that prepare her for surgery.  Hannah is at ease, and so is her Uber driver.

Bunion 1B Dr J

Dr. J in the pre-op room

Highly recommended, Dr. Juris of Portland Foot and Ankle comes in to mark her right foot with a sharpie and then initials it as well.  Hannah is hooked up to a bag of electrolytes; to this IV will be added the anesthesia.  We are told that she will be in a fog throughout the operation and not remember a single thing from her hour on the operating table.

Bunion 1C marks on foot

Dr. J puts his John Hancock on her right foot

As they wheel Hannah to the OR, I return to the waiting room to take on my role as the Town Crier texting pictures of the dancing lady of my life to family and friends across the country.

Bunion 1E post op Hannah

Post-op Hannah with her protective sandal

Just as they said, Hannah remembers nothing of the hour long surgery.  When I see her in the post-op room, she is her usual sunny self.  In a protective hospital sandal, she will use both crutches and a walker for the time being.  In five days, we return to see Dr. J, when it is likely she will be fitted for a walking boot.

Bunion 1F H with walker

Home sweet home

The numbing medicine in her foot and the general sedative through IV fluid have not worn off by dinner time.  She’ll take Naproxen to reduce the pain over the next few days.  To deal with serious pain, she has Oxycodone, a narcotic which scares the shit out of me.  But trusted nurses tell us how important it is to stay ahead of the pain.  Maybe a half tablet before bed, maybe a whole one.  Hannah’s tough.  The pain is pretty damn tough, too.

Hannah v Pain.  We will see what the weekend brings.