Crow's-Feet Chronicles: You gotta pamper the pain
By Cindy Baker Burnett
Oct 7, 2018
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There’s a kindred spirit at the Arthritis Center in Dallas. While a knobby hand holds the door for a “walker and rider” to enter the lobby, a cane is inserted between the closing elevator doors to allow shuffling patrons a second chance to board. Jack Benny once said, “I don’t deserve this, but I have arthritis and I don’t deserve that either.”

I didn’t understand what my dad meant when he used to say, “I can’t walk past a chair without wanting to crawl in it.” Now I do. But the only time I get any REAL sympathy for having arthritis is when I join my fraternal brothers and sisters at the center where walking with a “hitch in the get-along” is the norm, rather than the exception.    

At first I wondered why my doctor had such a weak handshake. Makes sense to me now. Grabbing enflamed joints can bring a person to the floor and put tears in the eyes. After all, whimpering patients are bad for business.

After being painfully twisted into a human pretzel during my hip x-ray yesterday, I decided that shoving an ice pick into the roof of my mouth would have been more comfortable. Not only that—I could have saved the long trip to the Metroplex in triple-digit heat. I snarled at the “take-a-deep-breath-and-hold-iiiiit” teen technician who firmly planted her feet on the floor and offered me a rigid arm for support. I wanted to bite it.

It didn’t get much better when I left the arthritis center and went shoe shopping at Northpark mall. What happened to the hands-on shoe clerks who sat on the little stools and operated the laces and buckles for the customers? I always imagined they were the lowest in seniority. They were serving time in that department only because their father, who owned the store, wanted to keep them humble.

“I would like a pair of gladiator sandals.”

He scrutinized me closely, squinted his eyes, and appeared with a pair of Artic boots that laced to the knee.

“No, you don’t understand,” I said. “I don’t want to get a construction job. I want a dressy pair of strappy sandals.      

With detachment, he went over to a display table and returned with a sandal that had enough straps to keep Spartacus busy all day. He took the right sandal out of the box and handed it to me. What ever happened to…(refer to Paragraph 5)?

I began to doubt that I could ever master the bending and lacing that were required. As I struggled to hunker over and insert my foot into the shoe, the sales clerk said, “It’ll work. Just twist your foot a little and bear down.” A crowd began to form.

“Really,” I said. “It’s no use. I’ll never be able to get these darned things fastened.”

“We can do it,” he insisted. I guess he figured he’d lose the sale, so he began to shove my knee downwards. Blood rushed to his head and I feared a nosebleed for him.

“I appreciate what you are trying to do, but just bring me that pair over on the center table.”

“Are you sure those are what you want?” he asked.

“They’ll do fine,” I said as I slipped easily into the Isotoner house shoes.