The Elephant Legs have returned with a vengeance.
I got up in the morning and could already feel my legs seizing up. I could already feel the cement being poured into them, could feel the hardness of them. I was determined not to let it bother me, determined not to worry about it.
Even though I know what that hardness meant so early in the day. I should have listened to my body, listened to my legs, but I’m inherently stubborn. I won’t let anything stop me from doing something I want to do, even my own body.
I went to go to the post office. I had received a parcel notice and was looking forward to picking it up; what would it be? A book I had ordered? (there are several on the way) Or maybe a Christmas present from one of my heart sisters Kimberlee. I had been expecting it. I hoped that’s what it was.
After only a few steps, less than half a block, my legs started to seize up. They started to protest the very fact that I was making them walk. I figured I could make it to the post office. I had checked the directions, it should have only been a fifteen minute walk.
It ended up taking half an hour to get to the post office.
With each step, my legs grew harder and harder, more like rock than flesh. I can’t describe the amount of pain I was in; there are no words for it. All I can tell you was that I wanted to cry. I wanted to stop walking and cry right there in the middle of a sidewalk, the winter sun bright and blinding.
I did not allow myself to stop or to cry. I knew that if I started crying, I would not be able to stop. The pain made my breath catch with each step. I was limping by this point, each step more painful than the last one, but I knew that if I stopped walking, I would not be able to start again.
Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.
So I continued to walk, continued to will myself not to cry, continued to will myself to keep walking. It was the first time I had resorted to counting in a long time. With each step I counted, I felt a surge of victory.
One two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven twelve thirteen fourteen fifteen sixteen seventeen eighteen nineteen twenty
twenty one twenty two twenty three twenty four twenty five twenty six twenty seven twenty eight twenty nine thirty……
I ended up losing count several times, not being able to concentrate on continuing to walk and the pain and counting at the same time. I’m good at multi-tasking but not yesterday. Yesterday I just didn’t have it in me.
I can’t describe the pain I was in. Words hardly ever fail me but they fail me here.
I was nearing St. Paul University when I saw a young woman coming towards me. She smiled, looked as if she was going to say hello, and then stopped. Looked at me.
Looked at my legs.
I was limping with each step, barely able to pick my foot up off the ground with each step, making shuffling noises as I walked. I was trying not to cry and I watched as her smile faltered, as it changed into something that looked like loathing.
I came nearer to her. “Is there a problem?” I asked.
“Are you alright?” She asked. Disdain dripped from her lips.
“I’m disabled.” I said.
She laughed. “Oh, I thought you were drunk.” then she smiled at me again because she knew I wasn’t an alcoholic, because now it was okay to treat me like a human being, now it was alright to be nice to me; because I didn’t have a drinking problem.
I said nothing to her and kept walking. I knew I was close to my destination. The woman called after me: “Have a nice day!”
I turned around and gave her the finger.
At the post office, waiting in line to collect my package, I kept moving from foot to foot. I couldn’t put too much pressure on one foot, couldn’t stop moving because I would not be able to start walking again. I would not be able to walk.
There were tears in the back of my eyes and I blinked them away, willed them away, waited for my turn to collect my parcel. When the moment came, I almost cried with relief because it meant that my journey was half way done, meant that I would be home soon.
I took my parcel and started the journey home, willing myself to make it. I had my cell phone with me. I could have phoned a cab to pick me up and take me home; I could have called my husband who would have come to get me.
But I didn’t. Mostly because I’m stubborn. And I have a lot of pride.
So I continued to walk, no longer able to feel my legs or my feet. They were rocks now, cement poured into my skin, Elephant Legs that clumped and thumped and stompedalong. I was the Elephant Man, I was the broken boy. I was the Egg Man, Koo Koo Ka-Choo!
I saw my apartment building, I saw my home, standing tall in the distance and then I did allow myself to cry, only a little. I allowed some tears to slide down my cheeks in relief because I would be home soon. I would be home.
And I could sit down.
Such a simple thing, such a normal thing, sitting. But to me, at that moment, it was the thing I wanted to do more than anything else in the world.
And all the while, walking towards home, I was counting.
One step at a time…
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten….