I’m on Week Five with a walking boot for a stress fracture in my foot. I ice, I take Naprosyn, I go easy on it, and I fall into a rhythm of living with it. It’s not a bad handicap. I’ve had much worse, even in the last year. But a boot is an odd sort of badge—evident and at the same time invisible.
“Make allowances. I may go slowly,” the boot might say. But I don’t think it does.
More likely, I’m the one who claims the time and accommodations I need. More likely, no one knows I’m in a boot, or at least thinks consciously about it.
I make that statement because I’ve had five weeks of thinking maybe I’ve seen a boot on about a third of the people I run across. I meet an acquaintance in a store and I suddenly have the vision that she had a boot once. My department head, when I see her, did she have a boot for a while? The person inside that door down the hall, and that one, and that one … Some mental app has me placing a gauzy overlay of boot on everyone.
The fact is, I don’t have the least clue who had one, a physical boot, that is.
Or who has limped with something else.
I remember when I’d get a haircut or new shoes—and friends would notice. We were so conscious of one another that even non-friends would notice. I got older. I got glasses, even a perm once, and no one said a thing.
And I’m fine with that.
The boot has caused me some pains and has caused me some losses. But that’s a bit of a bore for someone to hear about. Interesting to me, boring to you. Bigger handicaps? Yes, there’s a place for telling friends. But I’m talking a boot here.
Most of the handicaps that most of us have most of the time aren’t visible to anyone but ourselves. They may show through with a bit of a limp, but only if someone’s watching. There is no one watching. We deal with our pains and losses all the time. But it’s our pain. Our personal boring pain, and certainly nothing that needs to be discussed.
We’re all making adjustments, re-prioritizing on the fly. For most of what’s ailing us, we’ll never share, we’ll never ask for allowances. We work around the legacies, injuries, burdens we accrue. We take what we need, put off what we have to, do what we can.
Maybe that is why I keep giving everyone the boot. “Walk a mile in my boot,” I may be saying–or more aptly, “I know you’re walking in your boot, and I’m walking in mine.”
Keep on truckin’.