Hobbled by Joyce Zonana

My hobbling has made me aware, in a new way, of my vulnerability. When I walk down the street, I notice that very few people actually seem to notice my constraint. And this makes me feel even more vulnerable. I’ve been afraid to take the subway, afraid to be in crowds, uncomfortable even when I am alone at home. I worry about another break, a fall, a misstep—banging into something, or having something drop on my foot.

And I think, with deeper compassion, about my friends and acquaintances—and all the people I don’t know—who bravely endure even greater, often invisible, challenges.

jz-headshotJust a few months ago, not long after turning seventy, I was diagnosed with mild osteoporosis. I had thought that all my yoga, my occasional forays to the gym, my daily walking, my frequently consumed leafy greens and yogurt , my calcium supplements would protect me. I had thought I was different from most other women my age, that I could avoid taking the medication that I knew was sometimes problematic. But the bone density scan revealed what I had feared, and because both of my parents declined and died shortly after hip fractures, because I had once broken an ankle, I decided to accept my doctor’s sober recommendation:  that I begin a weekly dose of alendronate. It would be the first chronic medication I would ever be prescribed.

But right before I actually began taking my weekly pill, I noticed a strange new pain across the instep of my left foot. For the first few days I ignored it; I felt it only when I walked, and I assumed it was a strained muscle or tendon. The pain increased; when, after ten days, it persisted even when I was not walking, I decided to see a podiatrist.

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