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The doctor just informed you that someone would be right in to show you how to wear the boot you’ll be married to for weeks, depending on your situation. For me it was a three-week relationship, and then two more weeks. For a broken pinky toe. Seemed like a lot, when all I heard from others was “they don’t do anything for sprained or broken toes.” Oh, but they do. And these words hung in the air at the podiatrist’s office that day, “Let’s see if we can avoid surgery. We might need to put a pin in your small toe.” I suddenly found motivation to manage the inconvenience. Clunk around in a boot in the heat of the summer to avoid surgery? I can do this!

Anyway, during our newly formed relationship, my boot and I have realized there are some ways to make this whole commitment more pleasant. Here are our twenty tips to make the most of an undesired situation.

1. Ask for a boot that matches your dog. But really, don’t bother. They only come in black from what I can tell. Our dog, Samson, is a yellow lab. You’d be able to tell the color of his fur just by looking at my boot. So I have some choices, since my dog does not match my boot. I can try to keep the fur off of it or at least to a minimum. I gave up on that. So, my next best choice has two parts: 1) think of the fur as tiny little love letters from the pup; and 2) act as if I am unaware of the light dog fur all over my black boot. Another possibility is to do a brief dog exchange with a friend who owns a chocolate or black dog.

2. Cherish the convenience of getting dropped off closer to the door of the day’s destinations, when you are riding with someone else.

3. Make up a glamorous story of what happened. Jamming my pinky toe on a bedroom chair leg just does not get the attention I deserve. Someone suggested I say, “Shark bite.”

4. Pretend you are a stellar athlete, a legend in your own mind, with a long successful career, and lament that you could have made the Olympic team of your choice, even still at your vintage age.

5. Accept that the boot is actually awkwardly comfortable, though not your first choice, and choose to adjust to it without whining. Too much.

6. Remember anytime we are forced to slow down it is actually a good thing.

7. Celebrate each and every week you complete on your journey! Treat yourself to something sweet, dinner out, flowers, or whatever brings you a sense of reward and joy in the moment. Notice the progress in the small steps.

8. Do not cheat the boot. Do not leave the boot at home and don your sassy little sandals for that special social event. Be true to the boot, and truly wear it every day all day according to the doctor’s instructions. My shoe choice was quite limited. Respect the boot.

9. Enjoy the icebreaker, the conversation starter role it plays.

10. Be grateful. It could be worse. See the positive. Time will pass. This will be a memory some day. Healing is happening. It is usually not related to 3D’s of true despair: death, disease, or divorce. It is inconvenient, but not tragic in most cases. However, if you are in a lot of pain, we recognize this is more of a challenge.

11. Your pride may take a hit. Don’t hit back. Smile daily and realize the boot is a healing tool, and on your team. Clunk along through your day. Do your part with pride on the healing journey.

12. Ask a good friend with a steady hand to paint greetings on your toenails. Remember the word needs to be readable from the observer’s angle, not yours. Paint something with five letters, or four and a space. People who stare down at your boot might get a chuckle. And you, too. The letters will be upside down and backwards from your view. Examples:

• I’ M (space toe) O K
• H E L L O

13. Avoid deep puddles. With minor puddles, you will be high and dry in the boot. With one foot, anyway.

14. Make your boot your BBFF, your Boot Best Friend Fornow. Go everywhere together. Find ways to be comfortable. Elevate it at home. Stretch your leg out at the table.

15. Try essential oils. I read online, the ultimate source for truth and accurate information, that a blend of oils would help bones heal. I don’t know if it really helped or not, but it was worth a try. I contacted my local essential oil friend, and she made me a certain blend in a roll-on bottle. The fragrance is calming to me at least, and rubbing it gently in the toe area stimulated circulation and relaxed stressed tissue. Remember, I am not giving promises or medical advice, so check with your physician, alternative medicine person, or essential oils friends.

16. Recognize this opportunity to craft your character: build patience, trust in the process, find contentment, persevere, find joy in more than your circumstances, and build empathy for others with physical challenges. Stronger character and being secure in your joys that exist outside your circumstances is lovely.

17. Ask for and accept help as needed. You may or may not be able to do everything you did before the boot. Don’t be a martyr. You’ve helped many. It’s your turn to accept generosity of spirit from helpful others.

18. Be kind to yourself. A warm soak in Epsom salts and fresh lavender is a simple homemade pampering moment for me. We do work harder to live a normal life when we are in a splint or boot. Take care of yourself. Stop for a cup of coffee you’d enjoy, or whatever little thing perks you up.

19. Cheer at bed time. You’ve made it through another day!

20. Keep chocolate handy. That can sweeten any rough day. For me, it’s dark chocolate. A few squares, if you can maintain self-control, takes your mind off the challenges of the day, if only for a moment or two of bliss.

I need to acknowledge a few things that made my boot time more tolerable: I’ve experienced minimal to no pain. I don’t have to sleep in the boot. I live on the first floor. I injured my left foot, not my driving foot. I am married to a considerate and helpful man. I know we all have different things that contribute to our contentment and recovery, and I want to give credit to those who deal with healing with additional bumps in the road. Your experience may be harder than mine, and my heart goes out to you.

Even though we are older, probably more cautious, and generally not the risk takers we once were, accidents still happen. It is so helpful to keep a great attitude and follow the doctor’s orders. Do you have any good ideas to share to help us endure recovery when something health related has sent us a curve ball pitch? Share in the comments.

Even when limping, stay charming, friends!