One of the many better aspects of being at home is being able to change my footwear often.  I often call shoes ‘leather coffins’, and Gary Ward wags that they are ‘sensory deprivation chambers’.  Whatever you think of putting your sets of 26 bones, 40 joints, and 70,000 nerve endings into a stiffish box for hours on end, or or go ahead and sing the praises of tropical barefoot existence, I can tell you that I am not going out into a Maine winter in Vibrams or reef runners.  The compromise is to swap footgear regularly, so that my feet get to adapt to something different and maintain their inner movement.

On the road, shoes of any kind take up a lot of room, and for this trip to dreary winter England and crispy winter Oslo, I took only a sturdy pair of Merrill’s that would serve for the wet informality of a KMI class and the colder formality of a convention address to 300 chiropractic doctors – but in any case only one pair, to which my feet have been adapting all week.  I cannot wait to get home to something else – my feet simply get tired of any given shoe, however comfy they are on the first day.

But these turned out to be a bad choice: I only ever get to see Oslo in the winter, as you could not raise a class here in the summer, when everyone is out playing in the stretched-out days.  This time, it is as cold as Maine and even slower to light up in the morning at 60 degrees N latitude.

For some unaccountable reason in this efficient, cheery, and snow-accustomed city, the sidewalks were not shoveled and are now all glare ice.  Everyone is stepping carefully, and my shoes, despite their diamond tread, went right out from under me as I tried to negotiate a little slope down to the skating rink in the median strip of the main drag.

I landed hard on my trochanter, just as my father did when he broke the neck of his femur in a similar fall on ice at 78.  I suffered a mere bruise to my pride and a sore bursa, and my bones feel solid – but it made me aware how I am just 15 years away from when such a fall might stop my in my tracks too.

Curiously, I was relating this story in my lecture that very day: how the neck of his femur broke cleanly, how at his age they had to surgically pin it, and how when I came home from whatever trip I was on, there he was, coming out of the garage with a terrible one-sided limp.

“Does it hurt that much?” I asked.

“No, it doesn’t hurt,” he said, and my eyebrows lifted.

So while he had his cigarette, we walked up and down the driveway: “Can you feel how your weight is traveling over your left foot?  Can you let the weight travel over the right foot in the same way?”  In this way, I kept transferring the successful sensations from the walking his ‘good’ leg was doing to the injured leg.

Bonnie Bainbridge points out that ‘there are no genes for surgery’: he went to sleep with a broken leg and woke up with s sturdy one.  The operation was a success, but that is not the completion of the healing process – his bodymind needed to integrate this sudden and unexpected (by his genes) recovery.  Within five minutes of tracking through the various joints and movements, Dad was walking normally, and did so for the rest of his life.  It was not because I am so skilled, but because no one had bothered to re-educate his movement after the surgery.

I use the story to illustrate the point that in the future, there should be a competent bodyworker attached to every surgical rehab unit, every school and sports facility – both the potential and the need for ‘Spatial Medicine’ are quite large.


3 Responses to “Eis”

  1. Misty Says:

    Excellent post. Loved the integration of history, science, and humor, it was artfully executed. Cheers pops, your posts are always a pleasure to read. -M

  2. Noemie Chabot Says:

    Tom, could it be that you haven’t tried the Vivo Barefoot footwear yet? They really do provide barefoot feel, look much reasonable than the Vibrams Five Fingers in a more formal context, and they can keep you warm in winter. I’ve worn my Vivo Barefoot boots with no socks at -20 C, and did not even get cold. They even have an end of season sale right now, you should really check them out. vivobarefoot.com. Sorry if it sounds like a sales pitch, but you of all people should not have to suffer leather coffins while teaching and traveling! 🙂

  3. Quan Says:

    I totally agree…competent body workers in all rehab centers, would be optimal. Too bad they weren’t also in all chiropractors offices.

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