Discomfort Lasts About Thirty Seconds

Is Georgia officially in a drought?

It seems impossible that we wouldn’t be, given that we’ve basically been in a drought for every year I can remember, though I can’t specifically remember hearing about it this year. Given that this is a stream-of-consciousness post, I won’t be stopping to do research on that, but it seems fair to assume, especially since, prior to this week, it had been about six weeks since we glimpsed a raindrop.

Yup. Most of October and basically all of November slipped by without even a sprinkle here in the Greater Atlanta area, so the rains of the last two weeks have been welcome.

But as you know (maybe), I’m a runner, and one that won’t be confined to the indoors for a run even in the worst of conditions. (We do own a treadmill, but feh. That’s for if you’re 1000 steps short of your daily goal and you still have an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine to watch. And yeah, there’s gym memberships, but paying money to go to a sweaty room and run indoors is sort of the antithesis of why I run to begin with, so, nope, no gyms for me.)

So of course it happened: the first rain in over a month, and to boot, some of the nastiest to come our way came about on a run day, in the wee hours of the morning last week.

And while running in the rain can be delightful in the summer, in the winter (inasmuch as winter actually exists in the Southeastern United States), it’s not so much. Damp shoes mean blisters. Sodden clothes mean chafing. To say nothing of the sheer demoralizing cold that can seep into your bones in the throes of a windy, whipping rain on a thirty-five degree morning.

It’s more than a runner should be asked to bear, in other words, and it inspired in me that rare notion: that I could, I really could, just take the day off. Nobody would know but me. I’ve been diligent of late, and at this point, I know that missing a day doesn’t mean I fall off the train for good — a fear I had in my early days as a runner and that I still occasionally have as a writer. And, apologies to any readers north of the Mason-Dixon line, being an Atlanta native for basically my entire life, thirty-five degrees is cold. Add rain and wind and it’s prohibitively cold. In other words, this was an excellent candidate for a sleep-in morning (although sleeping in, in my house, means you’re up at 5:40 instead of 4:40. God, my college-aged self is spinning in his sheltered little womb just thinking about it.)

And, come to think of it, that’s how a lot of my writing days have felt of late. It’s rainy out there, and dark, and cold. It feels like harder work than I want it to be. The blank page doesn’t offer you much in return, and man, it sure would feel good just to take the time that I would have spent writing and use it on something else. An extra thirty minutes in bed. Getting some lesson planning done (how am I always so far behind? Oh yeah, because in my free time, I run and write instead of planning lessons). Reading. Squeezing in a nap.

But, y’know, I’ve gotten to the point that it’s not so much about convincing myself to do the thing that looks uncomfortable from the outside. Nine mornings out of ten, I’m just going to go for the run. I don’t have to berate myself, call myself a fat slob, chide myself about how lazy I’m going to feel … those days are gone. I know now, intrinsically, that the day is always better if I run. So I run. And, likewise, I don’t have to talk myself into facing down the blank page anymore, either. I just do it, as naturally and automatically as kicking my shoes off when I get in from work. It just feels wrong if I don’t. Getting the daily word count in is just the thing I do now.

All of which is to say that, despite the fact that it was a great morning for not getting the run in, I got the run in. It was as miserable as advertised. Within two minutes I was soaked through two layers. Half-blind from rain in the eyes. Feet squishing in my shoes. Huffing and coughing and slogging it through the cold, grinning wanly and shaking my head at the lonely cars driving by in the dark, laughing at what they must have been thinking seeing me out there.

I finished with nasty blisters on both feet (I almost never get blisters — not even from my six-mile mud run), which are still ailing me a week later. I had sore, stinging nips that itched uncomfortably under my shirt for the rest of the day, despite the band-aids I covered them with (nobody ever said running was glamorous). My chest-rattling cough resurged … the one I’ve been tangling with since October.

But it reminded me of a thing I already know: no matter how daunting the run looks, or how intimidating the blank page may be? Once you get over the fear of the thing and get into the guts of the thing, all of a sudden, it becomes a lot easier. In fact, once I got over the initial shock of the cold and the rain (which took about thirty seconds), it became just another run like virtually any other. The discomfort doesn’t last. After it passes, you just put your head down and go to work.

In short? The first step, the first word, the first day, the first anything? That’s the hardest. But once you’re in the thing — the run, the writing, the new job, whatever the challenge is — it becomes easier. Shockingly quickly, in fact, it becomes bearable when just moments before it was unthinkable.

It’s always better to take that first step despite the fear. (Well, I guess, unless that first step happens to be out your front door during the zombie apocalypse. In that case, maybe do sleep in.)


This weekly remotivational post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Every weekend, I use Linda G. Hill’s prompt to refocus my efforts and evaluate my process, sometimes with productive results.

Running is Magic

Running is nothing if not a constant dialogue with yourself about the things you never thought you’d do.

I never thought I’d take up running.

Then I never thought I’d enjoy running.

I never thought I’d run in a race.  (Pay money to run?  Run with other people?  Do I look like a fool?)

Then I never thought I’d run multiple races in a year.

I never thought I’d run more than three or four miles at a stretch.

Then I never thought I’d run more than six.  Or eight.  Or ten.  Or thirteen.

Oh, that’s half of a marathon.  I never thought I’d run a half marathon.

I never thought I could appreciate any activity completed outdoors in the summer in the deep south.

Or in the winter for that matter.

I never thought I’d look forward to getting up while most of the world is asleep to “exercise”.

I never thought I’d ever be grumpy about not going for a run.

I never thought I’d ever have anything to say about running that was worth writing down.  (Okay, that’s probably still debatable.)

I could go on, but that’s probably enough for the moment.  Anyway, I say all that to say this.  Running is magic.

I don’t say that lightly.  Writing is magical.  My son is magical.  My wife is magical.  (No, seriously.  She once cast a spell on me and it WORKED.  She also convinced me that getting married was a good idea, so clearly she has magical powers of persuasion.)  But that’s about where the magic ends in my life.  Just for the record, I set the bar pretty high when it comes to declaring things magical.  A decent magician can pull a rabbit out of a hat or tell you what card he forced you to pick.  Real magic is when a piece of lead turns into a piece of gold right before your unblinking eyes.  Real magic is when something that WASN’T suddenly IS.  Real magic is when the work and the time you put into something gets magnified and transmogrified and turned into rainbows and kittens and sunshine and all the good things.

Writing?  Magical.  I feel smarter every day that I write, and given the esteem that I hold my intelligence in (again, I will reference my wife), that’s a pretty big deal.  But in addition to getting my story down in literal, tangible words that another human could read, consider, and then (hopefully) enjoy, it’s filling me with a sense of purpose and accomplishment and a sort of general sense of being a little bit awesome.  My son?  Magical.  I put in a fun weekend in Florida and a few sleepless nights and I’m rewarded with a TINY FARGOING HUMAN that’s basically me on a thirty-year delay.  Incredible.  My wife?  Magical.  I know of no other person on earth who would put up with and call me on the stupid things that I do and still allow me to have happy fun times with her.  (She might kill me tonight for writing that.  That would be less magical.)

Running, to return to the point, requires a bit more explanation.  I’ve sunk a metric sharknadoload of time (not to be confused with the imperial sharknadoload) into running, and what have I got to show?  I lost some weight.  I “feel” healthier.  The endorphins that follow an individual run are nice.  But that seems like a balanced equation; there’s no magic there.

No, the magic of running is not like the magic of a rainbow suddenly appearing.  It’s more like the magic of a sculpture emerging from a raw hunk of marble under the practiced hands of Michaelangelo.  (He made sculptures, right?  I don’t know Art.)  You work at it, and you work at it, and you chip away day after day after day, knowing that there’s something good under those layers of stone and sweat and tears and exhaustion, and then one day it just appears.  Like Batman out of the dark.  He was there all along, saving your asgard, looking out for you, protecting your city and your whole way of life, but he only just now revealed himself to you because you only just now stopped to look.

Running gives you patience.  Not right away.  When you first dip your toes in the shallow end of the pool, you barely have the patience to slog it out for twenty minutes.  But you can’t embark on a thirteen mile run, or a twenty-six mile run, or a fifty mile run without the patience not to get bored, not to get distracted, not to quit halfway through because you just can’t stand the tedium for another minute.  Running teaches you to accept the tedium of the long miles and, eventually, to appreciate it.

Running gives you resilience.  It hurts.  It’s exhausting.  Especially at first.  But the more you do it, the less it hurts, the less it exhausts you, and finally you realize that running wasn’t the problem, the old you was the problem.  The more you learn to get up off the mat when running knocks you down (and running WILL knock you down), the easier it gets to keep standing up for another helping.

Running gives you confidence.  You start small.  If I can run for a minute, maybe I can run for two.  If I can run for two, maybe I can run for three.  If I can run for a half-mile, maaaaybe I can run an entire mile.  And then you get there.  Sooner than you think.  And what was once impossible becomes routine, and you start getting crazy with confidence.  If I can run fivemiles, maybe I can run ten.  If I can run a half-marathon, maybe I can write a fargoing book.

Sidenote: it’s foolish and stupid that half-marathons are called half-marathons.  You have a 5k, then a 10k, and those sound awesome.  Then there’s a half-marathon, which sounds like, “well, that’s nice I suppose, but why not a whole marathon?”  To which runners who have just accomplished their first run at that distance might, rightly so, kick you in the sack.  And yeah, I know, some people call them Pikermis, and that’s nice and all, but nobody knows how to pronounce Pikermi and it sounds a little ridiculous besides.  Call it a Salvador or something, or surely there is some other Greek city with a nice name we could appropriate.

Finally, Running gives you a sense of community.  I don’t know if I could name a social situation I’ve been in where the collective vibe was more uplifting than at any race I’ve attended.  Runners support one another, because we’re not running against one another, we’re running with one another.  And if you’ve never raced, then at the very least you know the deep-seated connection you have with every other runner you pass on the road.  Whether you wave or not, whether they wave or not, you see each other, and you know that they know, and they know that you know, and both of you are going through it together.  Through what?  Through it all.

Why am I still writing this?  I’m going for a run.  (Okay, fine, I’m going for a run in the morning.  I just… god.  Why you gotta ruin it?)

(EDIT:  My wife would like for me to point out that there is in fact nothing magical about blisters.)

Run in the Rain, or don’t, it’s only the Awesomest Thing Ever

Runners are strange birds.  Not only do we enjoy an activity which most people in the world really, really hate and, in fact, avoid at every opportunity, but we find some of the most painful and most bizarre aspects of the activity to latch onto.

For example: yesterday’s run.  Nothing special about the run itself, except for the fact that it was raining.

I love running in the rain.  I love it, love it, love it.  I don’t know why.  I shouldn’t.  I stink even worse after a rain run, my shoes have to be retired for a couple days until they dry out, there’s mud, it’s cold… It’s dumb as haberdashery that I love it so much, but I can’t help it.  I love it like a fat kid loves cake.  I love it like my dog loves to run under my feet when I walk down the stairs in the morning.  I love it like my son loves the goldfinger Tigger movie, and that’s a lot, probably an unhealthy amount.

Here are just a few reasons why running in the rain is awesome.

1.  Especially in the spring and summer, it feels brilliant.  The weather’s getting warmer here in Atlanta, and before we know it, it’ll be overnight lows of 70 or better for months at a time.  That sucks.  Running in the rain is like when you were a kid and hooked up the hose to a sprinkler — or, if you didn’t have a sprinkler, you just poked a bunch of holes in the hose — and ran through that thing for hours and hours and hours.  It feels like happiness.  It feels like bottled joy being poured over your head.

2.  It makes you feel bad-Asgard.  Know what non-bad-Asgards do?  They don’t run.  Know what non-bad-Asgard runners do?  They run when it’s convenient, when it works for them, when it’s easy.  Bad-Asgard runners run when they fargoing want to run, when they need to run, when they have to run.  Long run day and it’s 90 degrees out?  You’re running.  Speedwork day and you have a brick of fettucine alfredo in your stomach from the overindulgence of a dinner you ate last night because you totally deserved it?  You’re running.  The typhoon strikes?  El Nino is upon us?  Atlanta is buried under three inches of snow (horror of horrors!)?  You’re running.  Something about running in the worst of conditions brings out the inner bad-Asgard in all of us.  Well, all of us runners.  Well, maybe just me.

3.  Sense of Accomplishment. You’ve heard runners say that “every run is a good run.”  Well, you have if you frequent running sites.  If not, now you’re hearing it.  But some runs are better than others.  The tough runs make you feel like you did when you first started running, like when you first started breaking down those barriers that you didn’t think you could break.  Running in the rain is awesome because it’s something that even a lot of runners just won’t do.  But not you.  It was nasty and gross out there and you ran anyway.  High-five.

4.  It’s Primal.  Primitive man was probably a distance-runner because he had to be to survive.  You think primitive man, running to survive, took the day off because it was raining?  Fargo no, he didn’t.  He laced up (footed up?) and threw down because if he didn’t, he’d starve.  Or the lions would eat him.  Or something.

5.  You connect with nature.  On any run, you get to breathe deeply of the great bounty of our planet’s slightly toxic atmosphere.  Feel that burning in your lungs?  That’s nature, son.  That burning in your legs?  PAIN IS WEAKNESS LEAVING THE BODY.  That burning in your eyes?  That’s god peeing on you to cool your overheated loins.  Or it’s the acid rain.  Seriously, wear a hat, that stuff burns.

6.  The looks you get.  Know that look you get when you see a monkey waddle past, juggling kitchen knives while balancing on a bowling ball?  That look that says, “what the haberdashery did I just see?  It was crazy and probably ill-advised.”  That look on your face is hilarious, and I love it, love it, love it when you make it at me as you drive past in your warm-comfy SUV and I’m plodding through puddles.  Please make it again so that I can keep laughing for another mile.  (Whether I’m laughing at you or myself depends on how far I’ve run.)

7.  Steam.  Something about the moisture in the air and the heat of your body on and after a run creates a witchcraft of chemistry, and if you look closely, you can actually see the rain evaporating off your body in wisps of pale smoke.  That’s right.  You just worked out so hard you ALMOST BURST INTO FLAMES.

8.  Just kidding, running in the rain sucks.  Seriously, why would you want to do that?  Just stay inside where it’s warm.  You can get your miles in when it dries out.  Let those other lunatics get soaked.  They look almost happy out there – they must be crazy.

Late Night Write

Getting the writing done a little bit later than I’d rather.  But such is life.  I still have yet to miss a day or a deadline, and that’s something.  In fact, I sat down to write tonight at 9pm telling myself, “just get the 900 words and sack out,” and my ink-crazed id-writer half kept me going all the way to 1400 words, where my clearer-thinking half realized that if the rest of us didn’t get together and stop him soon, he might keep us up and writing all night, so we tagged him with the tranq gun (yeah, there’s a tranq gun in my head for when my other mes get out of hand, what do YOU use??) and he’s taking a little nappy-nap now.  And YES, it’s considered to be late at night at 10:30, I’m the parent of a toddler and THIS IS MY LIFE.

Spring Break is halfway over — actually more than halfway, now that today’s at an end — and that’s sad.

Two things from today.

First of all, I had my first post-podiatrist run on my not-actually-shattered foot, now infused with cortisone, AKA liquefied unicorn horn, AKA jumpin’ jamba juice, AKA I-don’t-know-what-pain-is-anymore happy medicine.  Seriously, in my first contiguous three-mile run in over a month, I felt not a tweak of pain or discomfort or “wrongness” in the heel, and nothing since.  Not only was there no pain, but I found myself running faster and easier than I have in months.  I kept going faster than I wanted to and reminding myself to slow down, which, for a runner, is sort of like asking your torturers to give you a few more lashes and really take their time with the thumbscrews.  The run over, I iced it and stretched the foot, per doctor’s orders, and for today at least, it’s holding up fine.

What’s not holding up fine, on the other hand, are my lungs, for two reasons.  First, I’m out of shape.  Not running consistently since basically December has reduced my conditioning to (for me) pitiful levels, and I cut the run short today as much out of an inability to breathe enough as out of caution not to overwork the heel.  Second, spring seems to have sprung here in Georgia, and if you’ve ever been in Georgia in the merry merry months of springtime, you know that the trees are mating, and their yellow, uh, genetic legacy just lays like a blanket over EVERYTHING.  We had an honest-to-goodness deluge of rain at the beginning of the week, and in the two days since, the pollen has piled up enough that our blue car is now blue-under-a-fine-misting-of-vomit-yellow.  The breeze stirs and you see it swirling like a desert sandstorm.  The trees rustle and it comes cascading down like the yellow snowfall of your nightmares.  When it rains again, the rivers and streams will look like streams of snot.  So me, I go out for my first run in a week, and as much as it’s a nice day out, I’m breathing in these coarse particulates by the metric sharknado-ton.  Oh, but I’m not breathing so much as gasping for my life, so I don’t even have the benefit of the filtration system in the nose, no, it’s all going straight down the gullet and powdering the inside of my lungs.  I feel confident that if you could shine a blacklight into my trachea, my entire respiratory system would fluoresce with this gunk.

So I’m hacking up what looks like powdered yellow-cake uranium, but I had a good run, so that’s awesome.  And I got my writing done for today, and that’s awesome too.

I wish there was more cleverness to be had in this post, but the id-writer is snoring so hard over there with that dart in his neck that he woke the neighbor’s dog up.  Nothing but drool and night terrors for that guy.  What a mess.

Modern Medicine is Magic (a running post in which you can see the inside of my foot and it looks like a horror movie)

So I’m a runner.

I caught this disease almost two years ago (no, it was earlier than that, but I date it from my first race which was on Cinco de Mayo, a “holiday” whose legitimacy it is not the goal of this blarg to explore) and have since embraced it, the way Rainman kinda leans into the skid and accepts that while he may never be a dashing, smooth-talking ladies man, hey, he can count the balls off some beans.

That is to say, running is not the best of hobbies to have.

Let me clarify that.  I call it a hobby because in a lot of ways it’s no longer about the exercise, it’s about the meditation, the focus it brings, and yeah, let’s be fair, it’s still in no small part about the exercise, but let’s push that aside for now, I’m going somewhere here.  Yes, hobby.  A hobby is something you enjoy doing, something that eats up a (often unhealthily [yes, unhealthily, shut up]) disproportionate amount of your time (money, thought, money, sense of a well-rounded life, money…), and as I’ve mentioned before, for a sport that professes to be about simplicity and an escape from big gyms and monthly fees and expensive equipment, you can drop a fargoing bundle on running gear. And it’s not the best of hobbies to have because it becomes difficult, when you have a (growing) family and a (beyond) full-time job and, let’s not forget, I also just took up capital-w Writing as another hobby (because I have time for that like I have hair on my head [spoiler alert: the key word is “shortage”]), to make time for Everything Which Must Be Accomplished Today.  Less so when you start out and it’s a twenty- to thirty-minute jaunt here and there, more so when you really lose your mind and begin running for nearly an hour at a time four or five times a week, and two hours on the weekend (because daddy needs his long run, no I don’t have a problem just GIVE ME THAT LONG RUN).

Anyway, there’s a problem with running and it’s this:

Dondraper it, let me try again.  There are some problems with running, and one of them is this:

Nope, still not there.

Running is a problem.

Here’s one reason.  We’re built to run, sure, great, fantastic.  The body and its legion of interconnected systems combine to make humans one of the kings of distance runners on our little blue slice of life.  However, most of us lazy Americans don’t give running a try until we’re old enough to know better.  Our lives of leisure and sedentary work and Law-and-Order marathons have caused those finely tuned systems to atrophy.  So we jump into running, and it hurts.  It fargoing HURTS.  Blisters, shin splints, sun burn, broken toenails, bloody nipples, ALL of these things can happen, sometimes within your first few steps out the door.  And a lot of people try it for a week and it hurts TOO DONDRAPER MUCH and they quit.  Hard to fault them.  Others think, “hey, this hurts, but it’s kind of awesome too,” and they keep at it.

Now, the body adapts fast.  It builds up resilience quickly.  And as any runner who makes it past, say , three months (I just made that figure up, but let’s go with it because this is my house) will tell you, once you get to the point where you can run a few miles, the rest is mental.  So if you didn’t drop out when it started hurting (which was immediately), you’re unlikely to drop out barring serious injury, and you’ll keep pushing up the mileage and the duration and you’ll find yourself smashing through your own boundaries and personal achievement and yay yay yay I’m awesome, running is awesome, the world is awesome, yay running.

Problem is, running is not like other sports.  You don’t take spikes to the knee making a tag at second, you don’t get a three-hundred pound linebacker smashing your brains into mush on every snap, you don’t take ice skates to the teeth when the puck does the thing with the hockey implements.  Okay, I don’t know a lot about hockey injuries, but I HAVE AN IMAGINATION AND ICE SKATES ARE DANGEROUS AND THOSE GUYS ARE BIG AND FAST.  Running injuries are subtle.  Like a fine wine (except that they crush your soul rather than bringing sweet, sweet music into it), running injuries develop over time.  Figure a conservative 1000 strides per mile times an average of 4 miles per run (my average in 2013)  times let’s just say I ran every other day last year and that’s a Holy Sharknado lot of steps you’ve taken, each one magnifying the entropy that your thirty-year old (indulge me) frame has slid into over the past YOUR WHOLE LIFE of not doing anything active outside of an occasional game of yard football.

So, my feet hurt.  And they finally hurt badly enough and longly enough (yep) for me to go see a doctor.

X-rays, poking and prodding, lots of questions.

Turns out that while I have no structural deficiencies (no broken bones or heel spurs or stress fractures or duck-feet), I do have a mild form of plantar fasciitis.  The phrase the doctor used was “you have a high arch, but your foot is behaving as if your arch is flat.”  I asked him what the haberdashery that meant, and he responded with words that may have been answers, but I still have no idea what he actually said.  Basically, I think what he said is that because I have healthy feet and because I have good running form, I’m overworking the plantar fascia (the tendons along the underside of the foot) and then they recede and shrink up like your business in a cold pool when I go to sleep at night, then they get extra stretched out again when I run again, wash, rinse, repeat.  (Healthy feet + good form, then, equals injury.  THIS IS RUNNING.)

The treatment?  Stretch it and ice it.  Seriously, that’s it.  He gave me a cortisone shot (I’ll come back to that) and some pills to take if I have more pain (the pills may cause a slight evacuation of my stomach contents, so, you know, USE SPARINGLY) and a see-you-in-a-month.

Two things bear mentioning from my little visit with my healthcare professional.

First, x-rays.

wpid-imag0945.jpgThose are goldfinger alien appendages.  Seriously.  From the above angle they look like the long, taloned claws of the grim-reaper dunked in phosphorescent goo (and, by the way, look at the big bone [the tarsal?  Go science yourself] just below the “toe joints” [yeah, SCIENCE] and tell me those don’t look like demonic slitted eyes gazing into your soul.  SERIOUSLY WHAT ARE THOSE).  And then…


If you’ve seen the first thirty seconds of Terminator 2, I need say no more.  If not, what are you doing here?  Go watch it.  Anyway, that’s a fargoing cyborg death-claw-foot, not a human extremity.

Second, the shot.  We’ve all had them.  Shot in the arm; if the doctor likes you he’ll tell you an amusing anecdote about fly fishing or his fourth-grader’s art project and you’ll be so bored you won’t even notice the needle sliding in, and then it’s over.  Dentist shots aren’t so quick or painless but at least you can’t see it happening so there’s that.

A cortisone shot is different.  First of all, the needle is longer than anything piercing your skin has any right to be.  My stomach did a backflip as soon as he uncorked the thing and I was literally unable to look away from it; all I could think was how it could possibly penetrate my flesh that much without causing searing, blinding pain.  The doc assures me that he’ll freeze the skin and I won’t feel anything except a little pulling.  Okay, sure, but I still can’t take my eyes off the thing.  He sprays a stream of this liquid at my heel and it feels like I’ve dunked the thing in a supercooled ice bath; the needle goes in and sure enough, I feel nothing.  But I see it.  The needle goes in and in and in, like a snake down a drain.  (Real or plumber’s, you decide!)  Then it stops, and he begins to depress the plunger.

Emptying the syringe takes him at least a minute.  Part of it’s because he’s deliberately going slow, which he explains is to allow the medicine to empty into the tissue without displacing things too rapidly, which would cause serious pain and discomfort.  The other part is that, its, uh, payload is dramatically big.  Again, all I have for reference are those doctor’s office inoculations, so maybe my scale is broken like the pollen count mechanism here in Georgia… but I won’t get sidetracked on that (tonight!).  3 ccs, he says.  Anyway, he’s sitting there pushing this clear fluid into the side of my heel and my eyes are just frozen to it like a five year old’s tongue to a light pole in winter, and I keep saying “uh huh, right, sure” to whatever he says in his reassuring voice.  It goes on too long, and my skin looks like one of those closeups of water that you see where the surface isn’t broken, it’s lifting up and sticking to the sides of the straw or string or whatever’s stuck in it, and I’m thinking of all that fluid oozing into my heel and oh my god, where is all that stuff going, it’s not my bloodstream because that’s not the point, and I feel myself getting dizzy.

Lunch almost comes up, but just like that, it’s over, the swordfish spike comes out of my heel, and he’s wiping it off with alcohol.  “All done,” he says, and I ask the question I’ve been afraid to ask because I’m somehow certain the answer will be no: “can I keep running?”

He laughs a little.  “Oh, sure.  I mean, don’t go running six miles on it tonight or anything, but you can return to your regular activities in a day or two.  Just keep stretching and icing.  Now the nurse will come in for your ultrasound.”

Thank crikey.  Wait, what?

The nurse comes in with this wand which makes no sound, not least of all ultra (okay, I apologize to the readers for the horribleness of that joke, but no, I’m not taking it back).  She slathers it with goop and rubs it all over my heel and the back part of the bottom of my foot for a good five minutes, explaining that this will distribute the cortisone all throughout the soft tissues of my foot.  Small talk about our kids (being a parent somehow makes small talk in odd situations so much easier than it ever was in the years BS (before sprout).  Then she’s done, she packs it all up, and sends me on my way, telling me to be careful the rest of the day and not take part in any strenuous physical activity because my foot is going to feel a little numb.

That clear fluid from the syringe, the cortisone, is made of fairy tears or unicorn pee or something.  I put my heels to the ground and feel nothing but a dull tingling in my ENTIRE left foot, like I’d sat on it funny for an hour and it has that pins-and-needles thing going on.  This feeling lasted for the entire rest of the day.  No pain, just that bizarre, stars-exploding-in-my-nerve-endings kind of feeling every time I take a step.

I wake up this morning and the sharp pain I’m used to feeling in my heel on my first steps of the day is just gone.  I rouse the sprout (okay, he was already roused and chasing his toy dinosaurs around his room) and take him downstairs – the stairs that usually intensify the pain in the heel, and again – nothing.

I won’t be running on it again today, but hopefully before school’s back in, I can take it for a spin and see how it’s doing.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: modern medicine is magic.  I learned this firsthand when my son was born with half his insides on the outside, and I’ve learned it again since this doctor was able to pull the evil out of my heel like sucking up milk through a straw.