My wife sprained one of her toes which made walking difficult. (It happened at the height of summer and came in handy as an excuse to avoid her evening walk, which was getting very uncomfortable) She complained about it (the pain I mean, not missing the walk) and I said offhandedly “Reduce weight, use soft footwear, give some hot fomentation and avoid long walks. If the pain is unbearable take a pain killer. It will take some time but it will be OK.”
“You are least bothered about my difficulties, you don’t care if I am suffering and you don’t have the courtesy of offering to take me to a doctor.”
“I know it is nothing serious” I said “Can you move your toes”?
“Can you pin point the source of pain?”
“Does it hurt when you are resting?”
Is it better when you use a soft footwear?
“In that case, I can tell you with confidence that it is nothing serious. Just leave it alone and it will be OK.”
“Do they teach about feet and toes in dental college?” (wife)
“In that case you stick to your dentistry and don’t offer unwanted advice about my feet. If you don’t care about my suffering so be it. I will suffer silently and will not tell you even if my toes come apart.”
We left the matter there. She limped a bit and limped a bit more when I was in sight. I pretended that I did not notice anything wrong.
But when the pain spread to MY knees I had to take cognizance. Wait, don’t correct me. I haven’t made a mistake. The pain did spread to MY knees. I will explain.
Since the last two years I have been experiencing mild pain in my knees when I climb a slope or stairs. When it remained for more than six months I consulted my orthopaedist friend. He took a cursory look and said “Oh, it is early degenerative arthritis. Don’t do anything that may worsen the condition like running, excessive bending and fast climbing. If you don’t mind losing few rupees every day, swallow some calcium and vitamin E. Not that it will help much. By the time the situation gets worse and reaches the stage of joint replacement you will have crossed seventy five. If you live till then let us see.” That is where I had left my knee pain. It neither increased nor decreased and had remained as it was.
I am losing few rupees everyday and hoping that I will not live beyond seventy.
Now my wife had reduced her movement and she said that it hurt more when she climbed the stairs. So, she stayed put on the first floor, where we live. I had to climb up and down when the post man came, courier boy brought a parcel, paper boy or the cable TV fellow came for collection, gas cylinder was delivered, people came selling children’s encyclopaedias and for umpteen other reasons. My knees took the brunt and the pain increased. I had to do something about my wife’s foot.
I surrendered my ego and talked to my wife about consulting the bone specialist. I received a sarcastic reply “What is the urgency? Let us wait till I am totally lame” but I managed to coax and convince her. I haven’t spent thirty years with her for nothing.
Our orthopaedist’s consulting room faces his front yard and the gate. He saw us approaching and called out through his window. “Hello, what brings you here? Come in”. My wife sat in the chair in front of him and poured out her woes.
He took her leg in hand and pressed her toes one after another.
“Does it hurt when I press?”
“Your pain is only when you put weight on it right?”
“Can you point out the source of pain?”
Does it hurt when you wiggle your toes?”
“Now press against my hands.---- Does it hurt?”
“It must be a ligament tear. Use soft footwear, give some hot fomentation and avoid long walks. Try to reduce your weight. If the pain is unbearable take a pain killer. It will take some time but it will be OK.”
I gave her a meaningful look. But she averted her eyes. We came out. I forgot to offer him his consulting fee.
“You don’t have to be conceited.” She hissed. “He might have said the same thing as you, but he is qualified, competent and knows what he is saying. And unlike you he was concerned about the pain. I feel much better after meeting him. Now, don’t look at me like that. Why didn’t you offer to pay him? And you did not even thank him. I feel so embarrassed”.
Before I could say anything we heard my friend calling through his window again,
“Hey wait” He came out “How were the mangoes that I gave you? (He had brought us a dozen alphonso mangoes grown on his tree.)
“I am so sorry. I forgot to mention. They were wonderful” I received another scornful look from my wife and he continued “Do you eat ‘Totapuri’?” (Totapuri - another variety of mangoes) and without waiting for my reply he pulled me up the stairs “Come, Take some.” He took us to his rooftop garden. He is a keen horticulturist and has many varieties of mangoes. He has grown a Totapuri tree on his terrace. He plucked half a dozen fruits within reach, just about to ripe, and handed them to me. “If you like them come anytime and take more. We are not fans of this variety. I will be very happy if you could use them.”
We came home. The Totapuris were large and attractive. My wife was very excited and happy. She loves Mangoes and during the season her lunch/dinner is not complete without a serving, no, many servings, of the fruit.
It is about a week since we went there. The mangoes ripened and tasted great. They were so big that just one would satisfy the whole family including my wife. Now the last last one is remaining.
“Just one more ‘Totapuri’ remaining. Should we visit our orhtopaedist for a follow up?” I asked my wife.
“Shut up. You have no shame. You do not offer him his fees and not even thank him for his kindness. He had taken the trouble of coming to our door to give us Mangoes and you did not even have the courtesy to mention that. He had to remind you. I feel ashamed. I can't face him again.”
Then she looked longingly at the remaining 'Totapuri'. “I will not come with you but if you are going that way meet him and tell him that I am better. Here, take this bag.”