duct tape

This was one of the first things I wrote at the Wilder running & writing retreat, the prompt being: "What have you tried to repair?"

What have I tried to repair? Well, lots of things. I've tried to fix a lot of things with duct tape, which is, to say, not the most effective way to do things. I've used duct tape to fix Garmin watches and sleeping pads, to hold up heavy paintings in stopgap apartments. I've circled it around my handlebar so I could size a bike light correctly; I even used duct tape to fix a duct tape wallet.

Perhaps, though, I can extend this metaphor to more important things that tape can't fix. I've tried to repair my foot—with two neuromas embedded behind my toes, 4x their normal size—endlessly. I've tried to repair it with needles, cortisone, alcohol, physical therapy, orthotics, and finally, a blade. After she numbed me, had I almost fainted from pain, the blade sliced between my toes. The rod gently discovered its way through ligaments and matter, crowded space.

This was my foot and my foundation. This is my livelihood: running 30 miles a week, or doing yoga, or hiking in the mountains, or whatever.

They froze the nerve, or so they said. Disrupted my precious grounding—the thing that keeps me lifted. The rod comes out, the wound is healed. I lost all feeling: numb. And then the feeling came back: worse. 

I cannot walk, and here I am walking. The pain only worsens, grabbing hold of my whole foot, dancing up my ankle. The surgery is like duct tape, worn, fraying at its seams, losing its stickiness. 

Six weeks later and I run 14 miles in one day, just to do it, just because I am told not to. The pain, my pain, is now a part of me. Will it be part of me forever? 

I only repair with duct tape, I do things the wrong way. What can I endure with a crumpled foot? Resting means running; I only see answers in movement.

My toes pulse playfully at night. They are smiling, still reeling from their chance to move under miles.