Home About Us Features Write Now! Submit Resources


by Sheree Kirby

I had never heard of a spiral fracture prior to a few weeks ago. Nor did I imagine that the new pair of gold spiked heels that my young daughters told me looked "hot" would lead to anything more than sore feet. I'd never worn four-inch heels before, but I was willing to sacrifice a little pain to look decent at my high school reunion. It wasn't a mere five- or ten-year get-together, after all -- before life, and children and gravity took their toll. I have to work harder at it now, so I thought I'd try something new -- a nice dress (chosen at a mall across the country by my mother. Who knew?) and something a bit more elegant than run-of-the-mill business pumps.

However, at some point during this special evening, I managed to forget that I was no longer sixteen. I don't suppose I can blame the band for playing eerily consistent renditions of all my favorite Motown, funk and rock classics - or the flowing chardonnay that seemed more appealing than usual - or the dozens of smiling high school friends and acquaintances eager to relive the good old days. I would argue, though, that the combined effect was nothing less than "transporting." Out on the dance floor, as the lead singer belted out the chorus of Heart's "Crazy on You" I was transported right back to the seventies, and then, with a feverish stomp and a sprightly pivot, across town to my clinic's orthopedic department.

There I spent the better part of an hour pleading with the doctor, passionately explaining that I am an active person -- I need to jog with my dogs in the mornings, whirl my kids through the market in the shopping cart, and swim with the dolphins during our upcoming vacation. There are things I have to do! I can't be lying around with my foot up for eight weeks for Pete's sake. What about a walking cast? Preferably waterproof?

"You know," I boasted, "after my mastectomy, I was out on my rollerblades even before the bandages came off!"

With a brow, permanently furrowed most likely by patients like me, my doctor calmly stated that if I didn't cooperate this time by keeping all weight off of the injury, I'd be sidelined for a minimum of six months instead of two because he would be forced to operate, digging out scar tissue and implanting pins and bolts and such.

Perhaps it was his threat of more implants (the two lodged under my chest muscles are quite enough, thank you), or the thought of having to holler downstairs for my kids to bring me up a glass of water and a crust of bread for the next 180 days. Or maybe it was just time for me to take a break from my self-imposed post-cancer routine.

For the past five years, since my diagnosis, I have been in continuous "go" mode. Retaining control of my life was essential, beginning with the promise that I would drive myself to and from every chemo appointment, scan and test. I would exercise, volunteer, parent, partner, write and work as much if not more than before. Determined not to be sucked into the hovering vortex of depression, I would dwell on my cancer only in my writing, unless of course it crept into my thoughts in the middle of the night.

Now, half way through my sentence of forced inactivity, I have had to relax my rules, to ask my children to do things I used to do because it was just easier that way, to ask my husband to do more than his fair share, to accept rides and meals from friends. I have had to work much harder to keep my thoughts above the waterline without the natural daily influx of endorphins, and the fear of recurrence at bay without compounding the busyness.

I am not yet ready to conclude that my foot fracture has been a blessing, nor can I claim to have experienced a brilliant epiphany. I must, however, admit to a flickering, yet palpable, sense of calm; the kind that accompanies a renewed appreciation for heels that are but half as high.