Last week I flew to Colorado to see my physical therapist. Since hip surgery last August, visiting my physical therapist has become more important to me than visiting friends and family. They understand, I hope. Because I really love my family, but I really need my physical therapist, so the fact that both are in the same state makes the overlap coincidentally beneficial.
I spent two full days at the PT office, getting beaten up in ways that are good for you and feeling uncomfortable since treatment in and around the hip region requires a complete sacrifice of modesty and self-respect. Meddling, even for medical reasons, in the vicinity of the inner thigh is trespassing on every woman’s most embarrassing body part. Tina Fey calls inner things her “crotch biscuits,” which is the funniest thing I have ever heard.
After the therapist poked with acupuncture needles and adjusted bones on the verge of breaking, he lined up my ankles… paused…exhaled…. and said, “Huh. Your right leg is shorter than your left.”
He measured my legs carefully and said, “I mean, it’s not much, just 3/4 cm, but it might be enough to upset your whole alignment. It might be causing this mess in your hip.”
When I told Mike about this, he suggested that I wear a high heel on my right foot and tennis shoe on my left. It wasn’t funny then, but maybe it is now.
I left the PT office with an insert for my right shoe and it made me feel like I was standing up straight for the very first time. I mean 3/4 cm is nothing. And yet it makes all the difference.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, but I feel that I can’t get too nostalgic about it since I just mentioned crotch biscuits.The transition would feel awkward and forced, like all things that happen at a physical therapist’s office.
But it seems that holidays are important because they are orientating landmarks for a changing life. Mostly I measure progress by comparing holidays year to year. “What were we doing last year? Are we still friends with them? Does he still wear socks with sandals? Remind me to wear pants with an elastic waistband this year.”
Holidays seems to be the only time to stop and assess the sum of things, the little fractions of centimeters that add up to a whole life that is changing incrementally. Maybe that’s why everyone is posting on their Facebook walls or writing in their journals about the things they are thankful for. It’s an important exercise, not just to assess the present, but to remember how life has grown and added up to more. Fractions of centimeters suddenly mean something when we take turns around a dinner table and count blessings.
It seems that life rarely changes more than a centimeter at a time. Every once in awhile someone breaks their hip or wins the lottery (not the same thing), but most of the time life changes so subtly it’s confused for monotony. It’s like we arrive at things by drifting, more than by steering. And on holidays the drifting feels strategic, because suddenly you have arrived somewhere important with people you really love. And then you get to talk about all the ways you have grown 3/4cm at a time.
Sometimes taking a moment to realign is important, to measure things carefully and realize they are not symmetrical to the measurements from a year ago. Thanksgiving is a time to remember and feel thankful for growth in fractions.
In my case, I like to think I’m just growing one leg at a time, which makes me feel thankful for all of my fabulous high heels.