(The Daily Rumpus) Hardware

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For nearly a year, I lived with “hardware” in my left foot. That’s what the doctor called it, so that’s what I called it. Two plates and ten screws. I

   

For nearly a year, I lived with “hardware” in my left foot. That’s what the doctor called it, so that’s what I called it. Two plates and ten screws. Inside of my foot, this hardware held together the bones that were fused during my first foot surgery. Then, we waited for the fusion to take, to hold together on its own.

I dream about running sometimes. I haven’t been able to run in seven years. I think about when I lived in Oakland and I’d run around the lake with my trainer. It was so hard, painful even, but I was amazed to find myself doing this. Running. One foot in front of the other, just a little further. My body moving forward, faster and faster.

The July morning that I slipped was unbearably average. It was gray, drizzly, humid. I walked to the train with E. We weren’t rushing, weren’t running late. The ground was wet but just a little. If I had stepped on to the train more carefully. If I hadn’t twisted around trying to catch myself. If I had worn a different pair of shoes.

After the first surgery, I spent a lot of time feeling like my foot wasn’t really my foot. Metal. Hardware. I couldn’t walk for twelve weeks.

Many kinds of hardware are left in the body after surgery, but because the placement of mine was such that it widened and heightened my foot uncomfortably, and constantly bore pressure, my hardware came out as soon as they deemed my bones fully fused.

Why did I ask the doctor if I could keep the hardware? I like evidence. If I can see it, I’m that much closer to believing. This helps. He smiled, startled. I’m squeamish so the request was probably surprising. And afterward, when I woke up, he handed me a plastic cup full of metal.

I was expecting metal. We’d said it—screws, plates—so many times. I imagined smooth rounded metal plates. Tiny screws, like the kind that hold my glasses together. Instead, the screws look like household screws. Need to hang a picture? I have ten extra screws right here.

I’ve spent a lot of time feeling angry at my foot. It was not the first time my body betrayed me, or the last, but perhaps the most permanent. I’ve wanted to run away, to go back to California. To run. I am not good at being limited. Tell me I can’t and I want to. Make it so that I really am not able to and I will need to. I am very good at being angry.

My body and I, we have a complicated history. My body betraying me; me betraying my body. Medicine isn’t a fix for all of that history. There isn’t evidence of most of it—I threw it all into a dumpster so many years ago.

Ten screws and two plates. Sharp edges and jagged scabs.

My foot—my body—will never be the same again. Scars like tattoos that I didn’t choose and which can’t be removed.

Why am I telling you this story today? I’ve spent the last week watching my child battle his first serious illness, six days of torture for both of us. Today his fever broke, though mine is still spiking.

My body and I, we have not yet made peace. How can I run away again if I cannot run? And yet, I am here, with a child who is so strong. I tell him, “If you need me to run, I will run.”

This isn’t a tidy narrative. I can only say that when I thought I couldn’t stand it, I found myself looking at that jar. Ten screws, two plates. Seven years. One child. My body. Hardware.

Love,
Marisa

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