13 October 2008

A Guy Called Scab.

It’s been an interesting week. The human body is an amazing device in its capability to repair damage. And the human psyche is even more interesting. Watching how people react to situations out of their ordinary envelope makes for interesting study.

When the smoke cleared, the damage roster included two scraped knees, a couple lacerations and small abrasions on the hands, and of course the face. The face was a work of art, with nasty wounds on the forehead, chin, nose, upper lip (including the loose tooth), and next to the eye – the latter of which would also bloom into a fine shiner by Monday. Then there was the foot and toe malfunction, which only became apparent the following day when all the other excitement wore off. The immediate damage in the photo from the med tent was red and alarming, but the real joy didn’t appear until a day later, when all of these beauty marks had some time to bloom to their full potential. How did that song go? Bloom and swell, forever…

To wrap up this exhausting week of travel, I learned I’d been slotted in a training class for the week and would have the joy of spending ten hours per day being force-fed techno-babble. Ironically, this proved to make the week a little easier by reducing the number of people I had to face with that face.

I think it was the black eye that did it best. When people see you beat up, they instantly wonder if indeed, you got beat up. Which, of course, I did, but not the way they think. And of course, they’re afraid to ask. But you know they want to know, and you’d like to tell them so they stop thinking you’re a victim of domestic abuse or some freak encounter with a falling air conditioning unit. One of my running club buds put it well, when he stated, “and I don't think Ann can continuously chime ‘It wasn't me’ or ‘Don't look at me’, so you will have to fess up when people look at you, then her, and just shake their heads thinking ‘that's so sad’…” Ann, of course, being not only my lovely wife, but an avowed pacifist...

My line became, “I got in a fight with a brick walkway,” which worked pretty well to break the ice. Being trapped in the same room with twenty other people for the week meant only having to tell the story once during the “Let’s all get to know each other” phase of the class, which invariably toasts a good hour of the start of all these sessions. I must admit some dismay that not one of them asked what my time was in the marathon. Bunch of exercise-challenged techno-geeks, all of ‘em!

Then came the hard part – showing off my new appearance to people who actually knew me. Tuesday night was band practice for our church folk group. I softened the blow with a warning email. They rewarded me with a new nickname. I’m now the guy called Scab. Not to fear that this would be a short-term moniker of affection, the name still stuck on Sunday even after most of the scabs no longer did. I love these people!

By the next day I’d fallen into the role and for the first time completely forgot that I looked like Human Sandpaper. It took me a while to figure out why that store clerk was staring. How quickly we forget…

But the amazing part of this story is the resiliency of the human body. By the end of the week, when I was released from my techno-geek prison, I was almost suitable for public display. And by Sunday – a week after the First Great Collapse of October 2008 (hey, I beat the Dow Jones by a couple of days, mind you), those hard-working cells had rearranged and re-grown themselves to pretty close to normal. Not completely, of course. The shiner still shines a bit, and there’s a funny bump on my nose that I sure hope isn’t bone, but all in all, well, as I said, the human body is amazing. The pictures tell the story.

Which leaves the unfinished business of the toe, a topic that many of you in my vast and caring (well, at least caring) readership have asked about. At present, it just sort of doesn’t do much. It goes up, but not really down. You really don’t appreciate your big toe until it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do. As a result of its absenteeism, toe #2 took a mighty beating at Wineglass, and of course turned a lovely shade of purple. Yeah, I know, yum! I put in a couple of miles on Wednesday, and a 7-miler on Friday, and it just wasn’t right. Without that big toe, all else is afoul. I truly feared that the twang at the start of Wineglass had been the snap of a tendon. Ugly.

Thus today I trundled back to my running-friendly podiatrist who’s staff again slotted me for an instant visit despite his two-month booking backlog. I guess they know I’m a bit impatient. Again, his prognosis was far less dire than I’d feared. No, it’s highly doubtful that I snapped the tendon, or, he tells me, my toe would be rocketing vertical. Might be more of the arthritis, perhaps indeed some lesser tendon action, or a cartilage spur, but none too dire. He spoke of making a plan to keep running, not of hanging up the shoes.


Well, at least a partial Whew! Next step is off to the Big Humming MRI Machine on the Hill, and he’ll figure out what’s really going on. Which, in the big scheme, is what we’re all trying to do in life anyway. This is best summed up by a non-running friend of mine who wrote, “Nice job (your time, not your face). As for the karma of it all? You are a runner, these things happen. At the end, you were tired, you relaxed, and then you fell on your face. Literally. BUT you didn't die, you’re not in the hospital, and you will run again. So go drink some wine, relax, rest up, and start planning for next year.”


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