My husband is a cyclist. He rides a bike almost everyday. I wish I were an athlete like that. I wish I had that drive and a body suited to sport. I sometimes have the former, but the latter is a definite no. I have two left feet for sure. They both point to the right and I can’t dance, walk correctly or balance myself at all.
It is obvious to me that something happened to my body at an early age, maybe in utero, maybe later. I don’t know when or how or what, but some accident, or some way of sitting or standing or jumping or sleeping or growing, caused my entire right side to develop at a slight angle. My right foot turns out, my right leg too. Consequently, the knee, the hip, the back, they all have extra wear from things hitting in the wrong spots. My doctor diagnosed arthritis in my lower right back, but he never looked at my knee or my hip, so there may be more.
I always bust the threads on my right pant leg first. I wear out my right shoes faster than the left and I tend to get calluses on my right little toe. Perhaps most significant of all, is my poor misshapen uterus, bisected high on the right with a blind horn, not the most useful thing in my body. My son was breech because of it – no room for him to flip and spin his little fetal self in there. He spent the second half of the pregnancy rigidly upright and pointed straight to the front. Poor little guy, he was a victim of my lopsided life. I sometimes wonder if being upright caused him to get less oxygen-rich blood into his brain. I sometimes wonder if that contributed to his autism. I sometimes wonder if I am responsible. I never wonder if I will ever know, because I won’t.
I took a ballet class in college. I was skinny then. It seemed like the thing to do. One day our teacher lined us up at the bar and told us to point our right toes out to the side and lift our legs a bit. I had great form. The teacher stopped at my side and instructed the other students to look at my turned out foot and leg. “Perfect” she said and continued down the row. She didn’t know that my foot and leg would go no other direction. She didn’t know that I couldn’t repeat the “effort” with my left. That was the only thing I did correctly in her class all semester.
The next year I fell when climbing a set of concrete steps outside the administration building. My arms were full of papers. I didn’t want to drop them, so I fell awkwardly, landing the full force of my weight on the top of my right thigh. I was already quite aware of the asymmetrical nature of my physicality then, but it didn’t occur to me that the fall might contribute to it. I came away from that week with a deep bruise the size of a cantaloupe. It lasted for months, turned every imaginable color and finally faded away. To this day that part of my thigh is misshapen. The fall created scar tissue there.
Several years after college I had a rollerblading accident. Much to the horror of my husband who was skating behind me, I tumbled down a long steep sidewalk and fell hard, fracturing a bone in my right shoulder. It hasn’t ever been the same. It fatigues easily and always feels a little sore and weak. I’ve been to physical therapy for it, but I stopped going when I realized how much it could cost us, two or three days a week, $20 copay – you can do the math. My right side, it would seem, is doomed. If you really want to freak me out, you can threaten me with bowling. The thought of bearing that weight and shifting it that way is horrifying to me.
In the past year I’ve been having trouble with my right eye too. I have floaters and my vision gets blurry when I’m a little tired. My ophthalmologist says there’s nothing wrong with the eye, just the normal wear of age. I might need reading glasses soon. A few weeks ago I spent a long evening trying to beat my husband’s score on a stupid video game and I blew a blood vessel in my right eye. (Yeah, I know, I’m a loser in more ways than one.) The blood vessel is back to normal now, but oh how pretty I looked then.
A couple of months ago I met my mom for breakfast at my favorite pancake joint. I was dismayed to find her sitting on my side of the table. I have to have my right ear to the restaurant, not to the wall, or I will be in auditory hell. My right ear is extremely sensitive to noise. Until that moment I don’t think I had ever articulated this problem aloud. I was so distressed by my inability to correctly discern the voices and sounds around me that I was sort of holding my head in my hands and sulking at the table. My mom thought there was something wrong with me. I finally managed to explain my dilemma and, true mama that she is, she switched sides with me. Much better.
I’m not sure why I’m sharing all of this with you and I can’t think of an efficient way to end this blog, so suffice it to say that my right is wrong and my left is right. Make of it what you will.