I could see past the gray vinal shield that Dr Daly swung between Jon and her. I couldn’t see the bloody details, but I did see the look of strain on Dr Daly’s face as she pulled and pushed at Jon’s toe.
It was a struggle for sure, with lots of muscle, there was nothing delicate about it.
I was glad I wasn’t on the other side of his toe to see her pulling the tendon which was so tight it cured the digit into a “hammer toe”.
It’s just a small incision she told us. And once it’s cut the toe will pop out straight allowing the blister that put Jon in the hospital with an infection to heal.
But Jon said even though his foot was numb from a local anesthesia he could feel the effects of her pulling and snipping the tendon throughout his body. He said It was a kind of tightening that traveled from his foot up through his torso.
The whole procedure didn’t take long, but I’d never seen anything like it. Even the surgical scenes I’ve ever seen on TV or in the movies (and I haven’t watched any in the past 20 years or so) never made the surgery look so “physical.”
I was relieved to see Dr Daly pull out the curved needle ( like the upholstery needles I have in my studio) with the almost invisible thread and start to sew up the incision. There was something weirdly calming about it.
Maybe because it was so familiar.
“We know you heal well,” Dr Daly said before leaving the room to get to her next patient, “This is a structural issue, so it should work.”
I watched as she bandaged Jon’s foot in case it came off in the night, as it has in the past, and I had to put another one on.
The appointment was an early one so we stopped for breakfast on the way home. Then Jon picked up a couple of more plants from the Hand Farmstand for his garden. Back in Cambridge I hit the Senior Center Thrift Shop and got two bags (fill a bag for $5) of used clothes for my quilts.
We’ve been visiting Dr Daly’s office for over three years, sometimes every other week and know most of the nurses and receptionists by now. It helps that Jon always brings them Amish cake and cookies.
But we actually have a good time when we go there, even on a day like today.
Jon may be the patient, but his curiosity and interest in the people around him, allow him to get to know them as people and they see him as an individual too.
He’s good at that and I’ve seen him do it again and again, since his open-heart surgery in 2014.
Jon’s foot was still numb and as we drove home we talked about how he needed to rest it. But I didn’t even try to stop him from planting his new flowers and taking pictures of his garden.
Resting is important, but I admire the way Jon wants to get back to his work as quickly as he can. And I know for me there is nothing as healing as digging in the dirt.
Watching Jon deal with multiple medical issues gracefully has been helpful to me. I wouldn’t say he is stoic, although he is uncomplaining. Because he also tries to be honest and aware of the range of emotions that go along with it all. He’s thoughtful, not only about himself but how it all affects me too.
There are many ways to grow old and deal with illness, but I like what I see Jon doing best. I hope I can do as well.