Sunday, November 1, 2020

The Longest, Strangest Year: The Foot Saga, Etc.

Who knew what a truly strange year 2020 would turn out to be? 

Besides nasty politics and an even scarier, nastier pandemic. this has been darkly memorable for me.

It began for me in mid-January when a new patient came for a session so ill she had to lie down on the couch, coughing and moaning through her session. Though I urged her to go home, stay in bed and take care of herself, she insisted on staying for the full session. I cringed inwardly but reassured myself that I hadn't been ill for years and had had a high intensity flu shot.

A few days later, I woke up with a scratchy throat, a severe cough and a high fever. I had an ear infection and bright red eyes from a concurrent eye infection. I went to the local hospital ER, tested negative for both strains of flu and also for strep, got a prescription for the ear infection. There was no testing for Covid-19 then, which still seemed a world away. So I came home and crawled under the covers, leaving it to Bob to entertain our weekend guests: his former Little Brother Ryan Grady and his husband Michael Collum who had come for the long Martin Luther King weekend.

I was awakened from a feverish sleep (103 degree fever) that night by Bob's screams from the bathroom. He was coming out of a grand mal epileptic seizure. I jumped out of bed, raced to his side and promptly fainted. When I fell, my left foot twisted behind me at an angle and then I fell on it, shattering all the bones in my mid and fore foot.

Michael stayed to watch over Bob, who simply needed rest, and Ryan took me to the Emergency Room where the doctor said my foot might be fractured and put an orthopedic boot on it. After visits to my primary physician, a podiatrist and a surgeon, the news got progressively worse: I had a severe crush injury, a lis franc fracture to my foot that would require surgical reconstruction with metal plates and clamps. The recovery period would be at least a year. And the surgery itself was delayed for four weeks because of my severe cough (which would have precluded me from having a general anesthetic). The surgery finally took place on February 18 with an extremely painful, extended period of immobility, two different casts and a variety of orthopedic boots, and eight months wheelchair bound.

Back from the ER with Ryan and Michael
January 19, 2020

                                               One Week Post- Injury: January 27, 2020


                                                        Going to Surgery: February 18, 2020


                                              Recovering attended by felines: February 22, 2020


                                                     With Georgie's painting: March 1, 2020


                                                        Empathy from Ollie: March 23, 2020


                                                       Out of cast: April 27, 2020


                                                        The Boot: May 4, 2020


                                                        First stand: September 16, 2020


                                                      Bike ride on a windy November 1, 2020                                                     


Then the small miracles began: being able to use the bathroom by myself, being able to take a sit-down shower without assistance, being able to stand briefly, taking my first tentative steps in late September. Taking my  first bike  ride in late October.                                                   

Now I'm walking: sometimes with a cane and more often very carefully on my own. I can wear regular shoes for at least some of the day and am beginning to exercise again -- very carefully -- riding our three-wheeled bicycle two miles a day. The doctor says I will continue to improve over the next year -- perhaps able to take long walks sometime next year, able to walk barefoot long enough to get in the community pool for some lap swimming in a few months. Every step along the way feels wonderful and miraculous. 

I'm immensely grateful that any of this is possible and humbled by how much help I've needed and received along the way. My husband Bob has been quite literally supportive and immensely patient through this ordeal. Friends and neighbors Marsha Morello, Vicki O'Hara, Kelly Hartwig and Sherri Brown brought food and comfort in those early, very painful days. And friends nationwide have offered support in so many ways: Georgia Bohlen painted a cheerful cat picture and sent it to brighten my days; Jeanie Croope sent a gift card for Panera Bread and Kathy Bernath, the daughter of our former neighbor Wally Skurda, sent flowers and visited. I got many messages of love from friends Mary Breiner, Tim and Mary Kate Schellhardt, Pat Hill, Robert Luppi, Pat Cosentino and Sister Rita McCormack. I have also been grateful for the patients in my practice who hung in there through all the cancellations and uncertainty of those winter months. All of this has meant so much to me.

Now in healing mode with my foot, I look around at the fears and divisions we're all having around the pandemic, Election day (whatever our political affiliations) and how incredibly our daily lives have changed this year.  

Dealing with the dramatic changes 2020 has brought isn't easy to be sure. But trying times are so much more bearable when we support each other with kindness and compassion.

I was reminded of this during a recent phone conversation with my friend Bob Luppi, whom I have known since grade school and who renewed our friendship a few years ago after his retirement. I mentioned that these are turbulent, uncertain times. "They are," he replied. "I don't want to know your political affiliation and I won't tell you mine. I just want there to be peace and love and kindness between all of us. That's what matters most."    

That is everything.


  1. Kathy, so good to hear your getting up and around again. Please take care. Think of you guys often. Linda Kennedy

    1. We think of you often, too, Linda! I'll send you an email update soon!

  2. What an ordeal! And yet I see a big smile on your face in all the snapshots! Attitude is important.

    I heard about an attempt to stop the time switch -- because who wants an extra hour of 2020!

    1. I've tried to stay positive. It has been a real experience -- humbling in accepting help from others, challenging in withstanding some really horrible pain and rewarding in taking such pleasure from things -- like standing and walking -- that I used to take for granted. I SO agree about 2020!! Who indeed wants an extra hour of it???

  3. I though I'd had quite a year until I read this. Yours takes the cake, and after all that, a big slice of cake is the least you deserve for all the issues -- I'm sure made even stranger during a full-blown pandemic. I do wonder if you had COVID though. Might be worth an antibody test to find out. Best wishes and happy continued healing.

    1. I did have a Covid-19 antibody test in May and it was negative. So either I didn't have Covid or the antibodies had gone away by May. At my age and with some significant underlying conditions, I keep think that --as bad as whatever it was in January was -- if it had been the coronavirus, it would have been even worse. Who knows? But I think we've ALL had quite a year! Thanks for your good wishes!

  4. You have truly had a horrendous year! I'm glad to hear you are starting to emerge on the other side and hope your recovery continues well. Keep us updated, please!

  5. Kathy,
    What an ordeal! To see you still smiling after all you have been through is truly amazing. Mike and Babette Branley

  6. Kathy, this is such a powerful story of survival and courage, for having one's life upended like this requires courage. But you are a survivor. I think I've known that before. I know it all the more now (I'm nearly done reading!). Do you think it was Covid, too? I've heard several cases that were before testing but have since shown antibodies (and had the sickness to go with it.) You've had such a strong support crew -- both of the two and four-legged kind. It's a whole new chapter for "Purr Therapy." Onward, my friend. I think your friend Bob stated it well. Gentle cyber hugs.

  7. Oh my gosh, Kathy! What an ordeal you have been through! I can’t imagine the grit, the resolve, the patience, the grace it took to come out of this terrible accident. Seeing your photo journal was powerful! One look at that foot, and I shuttered. You are an inspiration. I think the photo of you with a smile on your face as you ride your bike deserves a frame. I hope you frame it and put it on your desk as a reminder of just how much healing you had in your body and your spirit. Like Jeanie, I wonder if you had COVID. I too was so sick in early February with symptoms so like yours. I was tested for antibodies but there were many false negatives, so I don’t think we will ever know. Your story is an amazing one. Thank you so much for sharing it.