“The doctor told me I stand too much,” I say, though that’s not exactly true.
There I’d been, at a potentially urgent appointment, my two-year-old son watching in awe as I lay on the examining table without yelling out in protest, as he would, when the doctor prodded me.
It was the first time I’d been still all morning. And still, my heart was racing. Was the pain in my leg deep vein thrombosis? It’s a phantom that’s haunted me for years, fueled by a birth control pill prescription and vague stories of a great-aunt or maybe great-great aunt who’d died when a varicose vein had been accidentally severed as she moved around…a shop she and her husband ran or owned, I think. All of this, along with weak circulation and other problems, ones that doctors often remarked on when it came to my “marbled skin” and frequently cold extremities.
The doctor told me to bend my legs. He palpated and poked at different parts of them, asking what hurt. Only one place did, the spot I’d noticed in the shower that morning, the spot that had been waking me up slightly at night when I leaned on it.
“Your legs are muscular,” the doctor remarked. “You’re on your feet a lot.” It was just an observation, but I suddenly felt tears in my eyes.
Yes, I am on my feet, I wanted to say, I wanted to yell. All the time. I thought of how I was always cleaning, always planning, always preparing meals, always trying to keep up our apartment, always trying to keep up with my son. And trying to keep food in the fridge and cabinets, and sometimes just walking for the hell of it, to pass the time, my son singing in his carriage, or asking for a cookie (not that I blame him), and sometimes I’m lost in thought, sometimes so present.
Yes, I am on my feet, waiting. I wait for guests to arrive, I wait for trains and trams and buses. I wait to use the bathroom. I wait outside my son’s door at night, listening to him breathe just long enough to reassure myself he’ll be okay, even though there’s no particular reason to think he won’t be.
Yes, I am on my feet, picking up toys and crumbs, wiping up hairballs our cat regularly expels and telling myself I need to brush him more, and feeling bad when I turn around and realize I forgot to stand in front of the washing machine and unload the clothes into the dryer, and hang other ones on the rack.
I hide the tears and don’t say anything. If I do, I think I’ll never stop crying.
The doctor gives me a note to get an ultrasound of my leg, but only as a precaution. He tells me the problem is probably muscular, due to my supinated left foot. He prescribes an ointment and a visit to a podiatrist.
He didn’t say anything about me standing too often. I didn’t, either. My body spoke for me. Now, I’m trying to listen.