The score was eleven to three and I knew I had no chance of pulling out a victory. I was about to face the music, I was about to lose my fifth straight ping pong match to my wife. I was in so much pain just standing there. I did not want to use that as an excuse for my poor performance. After all I did not want to make my wife feel guilty for beating a disabled person. Although a friendly game of ping pong seems insignificant it brought to my attention that simple tasks are becoming painful as I get older. Granted I put a lot of miles on my feet with running and cycling but I have noticed that even standing for a short period of time causes extreme discomfort. I see the same pain and discomfort that I feel in my son.
I was walking my son to the car after I picked him up from school and he asked me to pick him up and carry him. Eli is five and I thought I would embarrass him in front of his friends if I picked him up. I did it anyway because I did the same to my mom and dad. I remember so many times my parents and I had to take a break while we walked or stood in line. I remember always being in constant pain as a kid. I see the same look in my son’s eyes as I ask him to walk or stand in line. It’s a familiar look and stance only club footer would know. I like to call it the “dance”. It’s a combination of the Pee Pee dance and the funky chicken. It is very noticeable when Eli and I are just standing for a short period of time or trying to walk down the stairs. I recently saw my wedding video from thirteen years ago and watched as I did the “dance”. I remembered I was in so much pain that day.
Sometimes easy things and minor things like playing ping pong, standing or walking to a car becomes a difficult task to manage. Often times I try to hide the pain associated with my feet while doing something simple. I don’t like to explain to others that my feet are hurting because I don’t think people would understand. After all, my feet look fine. I think that is the problem with how some people with corrected clubfeet are treated. Just because things look fine on the outside does not mean that there is nothing wrong.
Training for an Ironman or Half Ironman is not an easy task. I will be toeing the line at Ironman Arizona and Ironman 70.3 California to show that it’s not going to be easy. I will be in a tremendous amount of pain. I will be limping, walking,running, shuffling and doing the “dance” all the way to the finisher’s line. I will be doing it to give those with club feet hope and encouragement to accomplish minor and major physical challenges they set before them, even if it’s something minor like a friendly game of ping pong.