Plasterless by Barbara Nadel

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Oh, joy to the world! Yesterday I had the plaster cast taken off my leg and nearly cried with joy. It was feeling so heavy and the itching inside was so furious I was beginning to suffer from insomnia. Well, you try sleeping with a massive great hot pot on the end of your leg!

That said, of course the leg that was revealed once the cast was sawn off was not a pretty sight. In fact I can feel a whole new career in horror writing coming on just as I recall it. Thin, white, flaky and scarred, my right leg looks a bit like a refugee from an Egyptian archaeological dig. Also it doesn’t really feel at all like my leg. Whether that is because I am aware that the bones are now held together with pins and plates, I don’t know. But my foot now feels quite detached from me and I just have to hope that upon some fateful moonless night, it doesn’t turn upon me. Imagine being slaughtered by a homicidal ex-body part?

But that said, the leg is really too weak to do much at the moment. Most of the time it flops about pathetically, hurting and being as stiff as a floorboard. Apparently if I take it out for walks a lot and wiggle it about whenever I sit down, I should be driving in 2 weeks time. If only it felt as if it belonged to me! But then maybe that will come in time. Maybe myself and my leg need to have a bit of a romance before we commit for a second round of co-habitation.

But all of this does make you think – or rather it does make me think. Human beings usually come in coherent whole bodies. They move, think and exist as complete entities. But when they/we are physically damaged, especially if bits do actually come off, something of a disturbing psychological nature does take place. I don’t know what it is apart from saying that my perception of it is indeed of some sort of temporary separation. When I broke my leg and lay on the floor waiting for the ambulance to come with my foot on the wrong way around, I did want to be either a million miles away or assume a completely new identity. That not being possible, I began, I think, to see my leg as ‘other’ – outside and beyond myself. It makes sense that someone should do such a thing in order to cope with such a situation. It also makes sense that now I should still feel that separation too. I didn’t see my leg for six weeks. When the plaster came off, it was a stranger to me. It had of course, also, changed.

So now the romance begins. Me and the leg, the leg and me. I’ll exercise it, wash it and try not to cringe when I look at its pitiful thinness. With any luck it will just get better and I will accept it. If not, it may kick me to death as I sleep. Oh well, at least it’s out of plaster.

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