I tripped over my slippers a couple of weeks ago and injured my big toe. I wasn’t sure if it was broken or merely sprained, but since the treatment for both is basically the same, I didn’t go to urgent care to find out. I figured it wasn’t worth spending an hour or two in a waiting room surrounded by Covid, RSV and flu germs just to be told to stay off my foot, elevate it and apply ice. Honestly, I didn’t think injuring a toe was a big deal.
Turns out, I was wrong. Although the swelling was minimal, I couldn’t comfortably wear most of my shoes or even my slippers. And not being able to put weight on my big toe meant I couldn’t walk normally, which caused my back and other parts of my foot to hurt if I walked too much. That meant I couldn’t do my regular volunteer shifts walking dogs at the local shelter, had to choose my outfits based on my limited footwear, and in general plan my life around what my injured toe did and did not allow me to do. I felt guilty, annoyed and frustrated, not to mention embarrassed when I begged off commitments because “I tripped over my slippers and hurt my toe.” I considered wrapping my ankle and claiming I’d sprained it rescuing a small child from a burning house, but I’m not that good of a good liar.
The good news is my toe is finally starting to heal, and I’m no longer limping very much. I’m back at the shelter, but sticking to walking small dogs that don’t pull, and the list of shoes I can wear without pain is growing steadily. I believe it won’t be too much longer before I can resume my normal life, and that gives me some much-needed hope.
I learned many things from the past two years, but one of the most important lessons was the importance of hope. Dealing with hard times for the short-term is one thing, but when you don’t see any “light at the end of the tunnel,” it’s very, very hard to keep your spirits up. Believing that things will eventually improve, one way or another, really is essential to our emotional heath.
I think about that when I sit in church, enjoying a Christmas concert, or dine with good friends in our favorite restaurant. There was a time when such things weren’t possible, and yet I’m doing them again. In the past year, I’ve visited friends and family I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic started. Covid and other viruses aren’t going away, but we are learning to control them with vaccines and better knowledge about how they spread. That’s progress, and that gives me hope.
My beloved Sanibel Island is still severely damaged by the hurricane that hit three months ago, but it’s also beginning to recover. Some stores and restaurants have reopened, and the island will be open to the public for day visits after the first of the year. That’s a huge step forward, and it also gives me hope.
The truth is, there are signs of hope all around us, hidden among the world’s many problems. We just have to be willing to look for them, and to recognize them when we spot them. It’s true that those signs of hope may be small and easy to dismiss, but trust me, the little things really do count….even something so small as a toe that is finally beginning to heal.