I’ve not left the house in four days…

In May, 1991 I collected the ball on the half-forward flank at Cleve Oval, lifted my eyes goalward and ran.

 

Or, attempted to run, as an opponent tackled me and stomped on my right foot, accidently. A man of bellowing mirth, and ample girth, he was not inaccurately-nicknamed Gut.

 

I’m unsure of the physics, but am certain mass, force, and pressure all rushed together unthinkingly and briefly as elemental energies do and broke my metatarsal and phalange.

 

I stopped like the coyote hitting a painted-on tunnel the roadrunner has just disappeared down.

 

My internal headline was:

 

Gut mashes foot

 

In my new job I had to take a bunch of kids to Adelaide in about a month and needed to upgrade my licence, so later that night, hobbling about my weatherboard home, I rang my dear friend Gareth to say Sunday’s bus-driving lesson about the noiseless, wide streets of Kimba was off.

 

Crutches came and went, I got my bus licence for the surprisingly agile, if boxy Toyota Coaster, the Adelaide trip happened and I played footy a month or so later.

 

I forgot about my foot.

 

*

 

Not long after Max was born in 2010 I jogged through Moseley Square one afternoon and returning home my foot had a secret, invisible steam iron pressed to it, as if it was a GAZMAN shirt on job interview morning. It was searing and burning and as tender as expensive mince.

 

A few weeks later sitting in a medical clinic the doctor peered at the x-ray and asked, “Have you ever broken your foot?”

 

“Yeah. In 1991. Playing footy. A big bloke stepped on it.” I supplied extra detail. The doctor looked interested. “His name was Gut.”

 

Comparing my extremity to a formerly wayward chook, she then commented, “I’m afraid your foot’s now coming home to roost.”

 

*

 

Last Friday just after seven Kerry took me to Noarlunga Hospital. It’s a low, flat building that seems like it belongs in the Riverland, or on the Sunshine Coast near a surf club.

 

In a small office I met with the anaesthesiologist. He suggested a local would be fine but offered a general too.

 

On Family Feud a team captain will sometimes blurt, “Play!” before Grant Denyer has closed his overly tiny mouth.

 

With even quicker speed I yapped, “General.” I didn’t even glance at my family.

 

Subconsciously informed by my previous Australian operating theatre experience this decision was supersonic. Alex was born by emergency Caesarean section at Flinders Hospital and I was there, sat and chaperoned on a stool by Kerry’s head.

 

A blue sheet shielded me from the birthing action, but on the ceiling a large mirror reflected everything. I didn’t want to faint, so I didn’t look at that mirror, that all-seeing mirror, like Indiana Jones when the face-melting evil spirits fly about after the Ark of the Covenant is opened by the galactically stupid Nazis.

 

So, yes, I didn’t wish to unintentionally catch a glimpse of my filleted toe, or an electric saw, or a mallet. I had no wish to spectate.

 

And yes, I’m comparing a Caesarean section with minor foot surgery.

 

I’m sorry.

 

*

 

I’ve not left the house in four days.

 

I thought I’d spend time watching old DVDs like Goodfellas or The Royal Tenenbaums but I’ve barely turned on the TV. Daytime viewing is beyond grim with the exception of Judge Judy who cuts through the nonsense quicker than a salt-and-pepper deputy principal, or a New Jersey detective.

 

Instead, I’ve had my foot elevated over the couch-arm like a languid teenager (with a decidedly unyouthful hoof) while I’ve re-read the Lay of the Land from the Frank Bascombe series by Richard Ford and luxuriated in its finely-observed narration.

 

When this middle-aged introspection was settling too heavy upon my solitary soul, I listened to a podcast featuring Merrick and Rosso, the former Triple J (and Nova) radio duo for whom there’s still enormous affection, twenty years on. They reminisced about Tight Arse Tuesday and Choice Bro TAFE, and I laughed like a pirate.

 

*

 

It’s been good to shut out the world a while. No work, No driving. The weather only glimpsed out the window in a second-hand, oddly-removed way.

 

Some quiet.

 

Tomorrow, I’m back to the hospital for a post-operative appointment.

 

My recovery’s going well, and I’ll soon be back, not on a half-forward flank, but out of the house, and in the world, with a foot that’s good for a few more decades of stroll and grunt and run.

 

About Mickey Randall

Late afternoon beer, Exile on Main St playing. Sport like cricket, most types of football, golf, squash, horse racing. Travel, with Vancouver my favourite city, but there’s nowhere I’ve not happily been. Except Luton. Reading. Writing about family, sport, music, the stuff that amuses me. Conversation. Wit. Irony. McLaren Vale cabernet sauvignon, Barossa shiraz, Coopers Sparkling Ale. Jazz and especially Miles Davis. Lots and lots of music. I live in Adelaide with my wife Kerry-ann and our boys Alex and Max.

Comments

  1. Earl O'Neill says:

    Only one metatarsal? I broke four when a tree branch landed on my foot. Quite the legend at the fracture clinic for the six weeks I was plastered from knee to toe.

  2. E.regnans says:

    Ahh, Mickey.
    Sorry to learn of the homing behaviour of those chooks.

    “surprisingly agile, if boxy” – magnificent.
    I wonder if that is a description also befitting “Gut”…

    Earl – “Bones I’ve broken” would be an excellent thread to kick off here.

    I can offer only three in my life:
    (1) Cervical-5 vertebra, aged 19, car accident roll-over. I’ve written of that one.
    (2) Scaphoid, left land, aged about 23, in a collision on a cricket field when, batting, I sliced one to third man and foolishly called for the second run. I crashed spectacularly with the wicketkeeper as I lunged to make my ground and landed flat on my back after wheeling through the air. Looked over at the square leg umpire… out,
    (3) Coccyx. aged 34ish, At an airBnB in Ocean Grove, throwing myself theatrically backwards, arse-first onto a low couch. Landed on the rock hard armrest.

  3. Take the time to rest up, Mickey, for you will soon be back out on the merry-go-round.

    I had a toe operation earlier this year – I begged the surgeon for a local so I could observe the proceedings but he thought I was crazy. “No local for you!”

    Great yarn.

  4. Earl- I reckon I broke more than one metatarsal at the time, but coming from a family who regularly break our toes, the first metatarsal became the problematic one, having suffered more than the others. Tree branches v gardeners is an unfair match-up!

    Er- Yes, that is a description also befitting Gut! Only three broken bones? I reckon that seems plenty as you’ve covered the full range of human experience there. The fatal second run. Whilst unsure I don’t think I need a Coccyx break.

    I’ve also written on this site of another footy injury; particularly when I had my arm re-broken- without anesthetic – by the local doctor-

    https://www.footyalmanac.com.au/football-islands/

    Thanks chaps.

  5. Smokie – I have less bravery than curiosity so it was lights out for me. Earlier last week a work colleague and I were discussing orthopedic surgery and he reminded me of online videos he’s seen of various procedures. That the toolboxes of orthopedic surgeons and building-site carpenters seem to enjoy significant overlap also convinced me to go the general.

    I’m certainly making the most of this enforced break from the usual routines.

  6. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Two broken noses, or to be picky, one nose broken twice. Poor smothering technique both times.

  7. Ouch, Swish. Did you win Smother of the Week?

    I remember Kapunda footy club having a galaxy of awards for the A grade beyond goal and mark of the week including handball, tackle, bump etc. I used to love hearing “And the Menzels Meats Spoil of the Week goes to…”

    I broke my nose in Junior Colts and spent a painful five minutes with a white-overalled trainer who straightened it manually.

  8. Dave Brown says:

    Speedy recovery, Mickey. Yep, I’d say general in a flash, too. My only break was glamorously breaking my left thumb climbing onto a kitchen stool as a six year old. Such an innocuous incident that I imagine my parents always thought I was hiding a more sinister truth.

    Tearing a calf muscle a couple of months back (on a footy field) I did get to spend a solid two days on the couch, only allowed as far as the freezer for a new icepack. Knocked off The Staircase on Netflix and made a substantial dent in Bojack Horseman with a few nanna naps thrown in for good measure. Have since developed a bit of Gut while returning to full mobility.

  9. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says:

    This is so beautifully paced and elegant Mickey. Especially in the face of all the brokenness it describes. But brokenness of the routine can be excellent. Brokenness of the march of steps, a moment to stop. And surely Richard Ford is one of the best medicines for the any body part. I’ve had part 4 of the Frank Bascombe series on my shelf since it came out a few years ago but still haven’t cracked the spine (no pun intended), lest it disturb the perfection of the trilogy.
    Heal well.

  10. Thanks Dave. I’ve not broken a thumb, but guess, especially as an adult that it would be a nightmare as you’d be rendered incapable of pretty doing much everything. Probably not much chop when you’re six either.

    I left the house for half an hour earlier this morning to visit our 96 year-old neighbour who’d rang last night with the promise of grapefruit for our boys. We had a good chat and I noticed on her kitchen table a half-full bottle of Bleasedale 2016 Shiraz. She has a glass, or two, with her lunch each day. I reckon if you get to 96 a daily Langhorne Creek red would be compulsory.

    Mathilde – thanks for that. The moment to stop. Yes. As we both work full-time our boys are in after school care each night, but as I’m currently couch-side they rode home yesterday at 3.15. It was great. They were in and out all afternoon: on their bikes, taking the dogs to the park etc. With snack and quick tele interludes to mix it up. It reminded me of my own childhood and those excellent free-range afternoons.

    I know Ford’s series presents a partly-fictionalised New Jersey geography, but I’d love to visit the real localities such as Toms River, Mantoloking, Manasquan etc. It’s a brilliant trilogy (plus one).

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