Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Lot Has Happened

Well, things have changed for this cycling duo. Our time in Norway was truly lovely. We spent a little over two weeks with Natalia, Anders, their three kids, and Jon-Kristian. We ate beautiful food, went for many long walks, took our unloaded bikes on a bit of a mountain bike ride, and participated in political protest. We each took our bikes up to the high lake, Fitjadalen, and explored without our gear. We rode the very few kilometers into town (5 mins, downhill), and back up again to the house (20+ mins, uphill). We even went into Norheimsund to see if we could find some boots so we could stomp around in the muddy woods with everyone. I would write more about it all, because it is a beautiful and inspiring life being lived on the fjord, but I recommend checking out the links above for Natalia's fantastic photos and perspective.

At the end of September, we were scheduled to fly back to California for our third wedding of the summer. Our plan was to fly back, stopover in Boston to see family, then spend a week or so in northern California with my (Ramona's) grandma and dad, before heading to the wedding for a long weekend of events. Our return flight to Norway was scheduled for the Sunday night after all wedding activities were over.

The wedding was a big one. I was a bridesmaid. Full length, strapless black dress and black heels, plus professionally applied make-up and hair. I didn't recognize myself when I looked in the mirror.

The wedding party. Can you find Ramona?

Here we are, after the ceremony. I am threatening to cut off my feet to stop the pain.

We got to see a lot of my oldest friends, and very good friends they are. Plus my immediate family was all there. All in all it was a pretty good party, until I broke my foot.

5th metatarsal, dislocated and broken. And I had already taken the heels off! I was wearing flats, dancing on the dance floor, attempting to jump an imaginary jump rope, and somehow I stubbed my toe so hard it broke a bone. The doctor said wearing the heels all day probably stressed it, and then I must have kicked something really hard. I did not notice it was broken right away, mind you. I kept dancing. Joshua finally dragged me off the dance floor after we had this conversation five times.

Ramona: My foot really hurts.
Joshua: Do you want to stop dancing and take a look at it?
Ramona: No.

At first nobody, not even me, could believe I had broken it - sprained, maybe. We spent three months biking across Europe with no injuries to speak of, and on a flat surface, in flat shoes I managed to do a lot of damage? As one of our cycling buddies in LA (also a consistent blog reader, awesome commenter, and generous donor to Where is Your Bicycle) said: "I always tell people not to dance. Dancing is dangerous." We used to ride our bicycles in Los Angeles together. It gave me a good laugh, bittersweet though it was.

Changed plans; Joshua spent a lot of time getting the airlines to waive change fees for our trip back. My dad drove us back to his house. Here we are, back in the northern CA woods, me on the couch with my foot in the air all day.

After input from one MD (who took the x-ray and told me of the brokenness), three orthopedic surgeons, a number of doctors and nurses who are friends or colleagues of friends, I finally got the option I was hoping for. Almost everyone said it would not heal very well, and that I risked future pain, possibly re-breaking and surgery, if I didn't do something. Surgery was recommended, which would include a pin that may or may not need to be removed in the future, and also the potential for chronic pain.

Did I mention we left our health insurance in Europe? Travel insurance is only good while you are traveling out of the country. One surgery, as an out-patient, would put us somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000 into medical debt. Imagine if I had to go back to take the pin out. It looks like there are programs to help, for people who are over 65, under 21, blind, disabled, pregnant, veterans, already on another program that I don't qualify for, or have children. It looks like there may be a county option that I do qualify for, but I have yet to figure that out.

There's also the fact that I was injured at an event, which no doubt has insurance. Now that I know that I must have stubbed my toe in some way, I am going to call them again and tell them about how the sections of the dance floor moved and created ledges as people danced on them. Both Joshua and my dad experienced that. Anyone else?

But here's the good news: the orthopedic surgeon who is a foot and ankle specialist, most qualified to make a judgement and give advice, said he can fix it enough so that it'll heal without surgery. He believes that because I am young, healthy, and active, I will heal a broken bone. The problem is the dislocation of the little piece of bone, close to the toe, which will cause it to heal slightly shorter than it used to be. So he's going to numb my foot really well (I pray) and then move that bone back into place, so it can heal correctly. He called it 'distraction'. I will be the one needing distracting, but if he wants to distract my bone, too, and help me avoid surgery, I am on board.

Now I am waiting for that, and then the 6-8 weeks of healing and recuperation will begin. Luckily we can stay here with my dad and our tickets are good for a year. Our bikes (and our hearts) are still in Norway. We called to say hi one day and I was in tears listening to the little Norweigian voices on the other end of the phone. I still don't know enough Norwegian to talk to a two year old about much, but the meaning came through - they wanted to tell us it has started to snow and they went out to play in it, they want us to come back and see it all with them. Noa asked if we could come read him a book.

So I have told my foot that we will be back on a bike by next spring, continuing our touring fun. At the latest, I hope to be back in Norway after New Year's, but some have suggested I go now and pretend I didn't realize my foot was broken so I can benefit from the comprehensive health care they've got over there. Tempting.

Joshua and I are both looking for the kind of work one can do from a farmhouse at the edge of the redwoods. I have a lot of time and no mobility - and when Joshua is not taking care of me he's working on his first iPhone app. He's going to teach me Cocoa; perhaps I will write computer programs, too. My Intro to Comp Sci professor should be proud to have made such a positive impression on me.
In the meantime, I'll take all the movie and book recommendations I can get. Just finished The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and ordered the other two books of the trilogy online. Whoa, good. And we watched one of the best movies I have ever seen, a Swedish film called 'As It Is In Heaven'. I will post more photos of the proceedings. Starting with the comfrey compress my dad applied: gooey, black-green foot masque.

And yes, I do accept healing vibes sent from however far away. Thanks to all of you that have already sent love, it helps.