Attacking Paul Bunion

250px-Paul_Bunyan_and_Babe_statues_Bemidji_Minnesota_cropMy father used to tell me – probably at the same time he was saying “Puns are the lowest form of humor” – that trying to be funny by using incorrect spelling or punctuation will just make people think you don’t know better. So at the start, I do know how to spell Paul Bunyan. This piece is about bunions – mine – one of which is now gone.

Many people have bunions, men as well as women. They’re those knobby bones on the inside of the foot just below the big toe. They are hereditary, and not, as I used to think, a result of my being pigeon-toed as a child or having engaged in five years of ballet training. Within my own family, a daughter who was not pigeon-toed but danced on her toes well into her late twenties, has bunions. But another daughter, likewise not pigeon-toed, rebelled early on and dropped out of ballet before ever getting on her toes. She, too, has bunions.

According to the Mayo Clinic, bunions form when the big toe pushes up against the other toes, forcing the big toe joint in the opposite direction, away from the normal profile of the foot. “Over time,” they say, “the abnormal position enlarges your big toe joint, further crowding your other toes and causing pain.” In addition to heredity, they also blame shoes that are too tight. And I’d add, how about pointed-toe spike heels?

My worst time with bunions was as a high school cheerleader during basketball season when bouncing down on the gym floor caused excruciating pain. In those days when no one’s parents ever picked up kids at school, I remember practically crawling home in agony after a game. It was evidence enough to convince my father to take me to a foot doctor. All I remember of the visit was that there were two procedures available: One required the patient being off her feet for six weeks, another requiring six months. Never in my life have I had such a window. And so I’d lived with my bunions, just buying wider and wider shoes.

But now my feet presented another swell development, a “hammer toe” next to the big toe that arched itself up into a 90-degree angle that rubbed against any shoe I wore, causing calluses and more pain. So time for surgery. If you live long enough, you get to take advantage of medical advances, such as bunionectomies done as outpatient surgery with the patient walking out in a special boot which she wears night and day until the bones have healed. The surgeon says four to six weeks. I’m pushing for less than four.

When I started this blog, I swore I would not be writing things like “what I had for lunch today.” This piece comes pretty close to that. Please excuse.

2 comments on “Attacking Paul Bunion

  1. Roger Keyser says:

    I thought the quote was “Puns are the lowest form of pastry”. That was my introduction to the concept of recursion, the term for which I didn’t learn until I became a math & computer science major.

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