Forget The Camel Toe… Introducing The Incredible Shooting Clown Toe

Ever have one of those weeks when truly random events seem to abound? Ever worked your way around things that were truly beyond the scope of your reckoning and imagination?

Your Curtain Raiser has had one of those weeks.

It all started last Monday with a scheduled toe operation. Ok, I had been putting it off with some self-help remedies, but ultimately conceded I had to go under the scalpel. Brushing off the fear of the unknown I headed off to the “Treatment Room”.

Installed in the “Treatment Bed” I eagerly listened to the discourse between the doctor and the nurse, hoping to catch any clue as to what was in store for me:

Dr: “I need a couple of scalpels XX mm thick and a syringe and needle xxx wide, the widest [or was that longest?] one you have.” Big needle

Did I hear correctly? Was that really my doctor asking for the biggest freaking needle in medical history? Surely this was happening in some sort of parallel universe?

A mere ninety minutes later with the biggest needle in medical history having been used on my person, I was limping back home with instructions and pain killers in hand. Pain killers, hah! For wimps, hah! Throbbing? Pain? I have those for breakfast!

By 9pm that night, my inner wimp showed her true colours and was ultimately sated with the meds. My inner wimp thanked me for a good night’s sleep.

The next morning, with my inner wimp firmly back under control, I headed back to the Torture Treatment Room for a dressing change.

Nurse Ratched“Why good morning”, Nurse Ratchet, I didn’t expect you here!”

“Yoo vill sit on the bed, da. You had a toe operation yesterday, da?

“Da, I mean, yes”

“Ok ve vill take a look, da”

Nurse Ratched begins to unbind the bandages, with a great deal of speed and movement. Unfortunately the speed and movement translated to movement and pressure on my toe and I let out a yelp.

“Doz dis hurt?

[No I yelped because I actually wanted to test your hearing range, sheesh!] “Yes”

A nod of the head then ensued but no slowing of the unwrapping motion. Did she not just ask a very pertinent question and did I just not answer in the affirmative? Am I missing something here?

Without delving into the gory details of the dressing change, I can safely say the stars I saw that morning were not the twinkling ones in the sky, given that it was broad daylight and I was indoors. However, I am happy to report that my inner wimp managed to stay silent throughout and with newly pressed calluses on my hands after bearing down on the bed my toe was freshly and professionally “dressed” by Nurse Ratched.

The next day I went to work with my freshly and professionally dressed toe. I wore open toed shoes so as not to squeeze the wound. This is something that I never do, wear open toed shoes in a professional context, so I was self-conscious about my footwear. No-one needs to see toes in an office… well, certainly those of us who are not orthopedic surgeons, pedicurists or podiatrists. But the show had to go on despite my footwear prejudices.

I made it to the bus stop feeling fairly upbeat. My toe didn’t hurt, the toe dressing was still attached and fellow commuters walking towards me didn’t faint at the site of my exposed toes. This was good, I was on the down hill run……. to foot malfunction.

The bus pulled up to the stop and I stepped up onto it, saying hello to the bus driver. As an aside, I always say hello to bus drivers as an acknowledgment of my appreciation for the job that they do, hoping to make their day just that little bit brighter.

No sooner had I turned to my right to make my way to a seat, when the professionally applied dressing, which had grown in size since last time I had looked, flew off my toe and under some elderly gentlemen’s seat. There it was, the amazing shooting clown toe striking a fellow bus passenger! After excusing myself, I bent down to gingerly retrieve my professionally applied toe dressing from between this guy’s legs and as soon as Operation Retrieval was complete, I quickly took my seat.

As luck would have it, the only seat available was one behind a knee-high plastic partition with very little leg room between the seat and said partition. As luck would doubly have it, some young guy with earphones and a laptop came and sat next to me and there was no room for me to bend down and reapply the professionally applied dressing. So, I spent the entire 20 minute journey, clutching my once professionally applied dressing and trying not to look at my toe and the sutures that were in it. Thankfully, my fellow passengers were spared the spectacle of my technicoloured and bloodied toe due to the presence of the partition.

IMG_1243Having alighted the bus, I found a patch of footpath out of harm’s way and unprofessionally reapplied the formerly professionally applied dressing. I still had about a seven minute walk to get to the office. One step, two… it was holding!! Three steps, four…incredible shooting clown toe strikes again although missing any human targets this time. There was no way around it, the only way this sucker was going to stay on was if I walked with my toe pointing to the sky.

Once at the office, I reapplied the dressing, this time using fresh supplies that Nurse Ratched had provided. However, peace was not to be had, incredible shooting clown toe struck again at lunchtime this time shooting through a crowded railway concourse. It was clearly time to tie this sucker down with professional first aid tape purchased from the chemist. Which I did and it held for the next three days.

Clown. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I suppose having an incredible shooting clown toe is one way of meeting people, but I prefer more conventional means, like possibly bumping into someone or starting a conversation at the supermarket checkout line.

As a postscript, I had the sutures taken out today. Nurse Ratched was nowhere to be seen and I am now longing for the day when I can once again wear closed toe shoes in my professional life. Ah, simple pleasures!

Have you ever had medical services professionally applied, which you have had to later fix? Do you say hello to your daily bus driver? Have you ever wanted to be a bus driver?

Should Hedonism Be The New Black?

I read a terrific article on the weekend in our local newspaper – yes of the paper variety, remember paper fibre? – entitled “Days of Decadence”. It centered around the question of whether indulging in pleasure for pleasure’s sake can be good for you.

It opened up with the statement that fun is what you do when you are in your twenties and that traditionally hedonistic behaviour – long lunches, late nights, drinking too much, taking drugs and sex – is not considered healthy. The article further states that whilst hedonism, defined in the Oxford Dictionary as the “pursuit of pleasure: sensual self-indulgence”, tends to be frowned upon and signifies a lack of self discipline, its pursuit may just have its place.

I am here to advocate for a little hedonism for those of us in midlife and to make it the new midlife black. Like that little black dress in the back of the closet that you put on every once in a while and which makes you feel like a million bucks when you wear it. The secret of course is to not wear it every day, but as a wonderful indulgence, even when there is no special occasion.

I absolutely refuse to concede that having fun is what you do only in your twenties. Fun is not the sole province of youth, fun is ageless and timeless and more importantly, it is a state of mind, much like age. Most things can be fun and pleasurable if you approach it with the right attitude (OK maybe not root canal or certain medical procedures, except if you are a health professional). Personally, my sense of fun has increased with age and probably has a lot to do with increased confidence and wisdom, loosening up, mellowing out and emerging from that intense stage of having young dependant children. The promise of new, exciting and challenging experiences is heady and every day has the possibility of adventure. There will be plenty of time to lie down when I am six feet under.

Does this mean I am not self disciplined? I am not buying that puppy. Hedonism does not need to be unplanned or extreme. It can be as simple as having a long lunch in the sun, swimming, eating at a fine restaurant, blogging, travelling to new destinations, dancing, listening to music, sleeping in or reading in bed. It is about a little piece of personal freedom and doing the things you love. I advocate ethical hedonism, hedonism without living a harmful life. The key as always is balance and common sense.

I always feel a little bemused when people make comments like “I wasted half a day, I didn’t get out of bed until midday.” To which my response is: “And the problem is……?” Fair enough, if you don’t get out of bed before midday as means of regularly shirking responsibility or avoiding reality. But really, what’s wrong with getting out of bed at midday on a weekend morning, particularly when it’s cold, dark and raining outside after you have been working all week or even if it’s not? What’s wrong with sitting around talking, sharing, reading and laughing whilst the dirty dishes from last night’s dinner are sitting in the sink? That hour or two of bonding is enough to keep you going for weeks and give you plenty of energy and motivation to tackle any amount of dirty dishes, dirty laundry and other associated housework. Why are we conditioned to think that every activity must produce a tangible, positive result or be progress towards a goal?

Engaging in ethical hedonism is not only permitted, but I suggest, should be mandatory. Those who think that life is solely about obligations and achievement are missing out. Life is also about pleasure, the dolce vita and we should not feel guilty about the occasional indulgence. Mothers please take note, you owe it to yourselves and those around you to indulge just a little.

Let us not wake up one morning and think that today is going to be THE day only to discover our health and abilities compromised. Tomorrow may never come and those of us at midlife need to balance out living for tomorrow with our capabilities of today. So come and join me and practice a little ethical hedonism every now and again. You never know, it may even give you a longer, happier life.

Viva La Ethical Hedonism Revolution!

Do you have any little indulgences that keep you going? Is blogging one of them? If so, please share them with us. Do you agree that a little ethical hedonism is essential to a happy life?

B is for Bikram Yoga: My Trip Into the Bikram Chamber

They say pay back can be nasty. My day for pay back came yesterday in the form of my very first Bikram Yoga class.

If you have heard of Bikram Yoga you will know that the mere contemplation of it can induce terror.  Bikram Yoga was created by Bikram Choudhury. His method is a set series of 26 postures each of which is performed twice together with two breathing exercises in a single 90 minute class.  The class is undertaken in a room heated to a minimum of 40 degrees Celsius (105 degrees Farenheit) and about 40% humidity. The idea is that the heat keeps your body from overheating (ha!), works on your muscles to allow for deeper stretching, promotes detoxing, increases your heart rate for a better cardiovascular work out together with a myriad of other “benefits”.

I have dabbled in “dry-land” yoga classes on and off for a number of years. Whilst I have never been a huge fan of twisting my body into what for me are unnatural positions I can see the benefits on posture, balance and the spirit. My philosophy for the past three years has been I’ll give anything a go once as long as it is affordable, not immoral, illegal or offensive. So here I was going off to try what can only be described as EXTREME yoga as an EXTREME novice.

I was given a set of instructions beforehand to prepare for the class. You must drink at least 2 litres of water, stop the drinking at least 30 minutes before class and you must not eat anything at least 2 hours beforehand. The warning bells were already starting to ring right there. If you have ever drunk 2 litres of water in a short amount of time (cue anyone who has ever had an ultrasound) you will understand. Two hours of prep for a 90 minute class? Really, most people don’t even do that much prep for an exam!

Stomach laden with water, I stepped into the hot room. There were about 20 others in the class, with the experienced cool kids up the front. I was told to follow them. Being my first time, the instructor referred to me as her “new friend”. At this point, I was still breathing freely but I wasn’t regarding the instructor and the other members of the class as my “friends”.

Yoga requires things like balance, co-ordination and flexibility and I was in the wrong line when they handed out those attributes. Let’s just say I didn’t manage to make all 26 poses and leave it at that. Oh, and did I mention that the Bikram room had mirrors everywhere? There was no escaping towards the back of the class. Hello humiliation!

Much of the class was taken up watching and admiring the cool kids twist like pretzels whilst I was trying not to pass out or catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror.  I tried to think of cool oceans, Antarctica and my legacy to my children. I zeroed in every time the instructor said “Our new friends can sit out and just watch this pose for the first time” in secret relief.  I kept mentally asking “Are we there yet?”.

Now I know the real meaning of the term “sweating buckets”. I have never “sweated buckets” before.  I have never drunk so much water or contorted so much before. Also, I have never pushed my boundaries so much before. I survived 90 minutes in the Bikram Chamber – that was the real challenge. Therefore I left the class with a sense of triumph together with my jelly legs, detoxed body and happier organs.

I am glad I gave it a shot. But I think one shot is all that I have in me. I admire anyone who can perform a graceful Garuasana or a pretty Padangustana. May you live a long and happy sweat filled life. However, it has never been a goal of mine to flex so much that I can put my feet behind my ears.

[Photo of the letter B from flikr – chrisinplymouth’s photstream]