My left foot has been amputated. To my surprise,  a great deal of my left foot pain has been eradicated. I didn’t expect it, and most health professionals, and people with lived experienced with amputation, didn’t either. I could no longer walk on my left foot, switching it out for a prosthetic will allow me to walk again, which is the outcome we’re still waiting for as my wound heels. Stage Four Flat Foot was the name of my condition, indicating soft tissue could not support my ankle from rolling in and under itself. Aye, there’s the rub. I have “lousy cartilage genetics,” and my foot was once described as a birth defect expressing itself now.

My pain continues being original to me, as everyone’s is; and there’s plenty enough to go around my body. The last couple of days were difficult because of my increased activity.  My remaining limbs are picking up all the slack. This is most notable on my right side, which already has an artificial hip. Hopefully, I’ll be walking soon, to reduce the stress on my better foot.

Bad cartilage genetics is osteoarthritis in my back that’s disk degenerative disease and spondylolylisthesis.  Sciatica (good name for a geriatric metal band,) is what my parents’ generation called it, though in that case it is primarily one nerve, the sciatic nerve that is pinched. There are more nerves between more vertebrae and disks collapsing and pinching nerves. Spondylolylistthesis.just a little different in that the degeneration of cartilage and genetics, or trauma have cause one vertebrae to tip over forward the one beneath.
It’s also damn hard to spell.

I don’t have scoliosis, which is curvature of the spine usually moving to the right, giving rise to a hump like Richard the III my Tante Neufeld (who lived to be 94), and my sister. Then there are joints with repetitive use wear and tear, which is accelerated if you don’t have good cartilage. My sister, a former pianist and me still pounding away on this keyboard as if it was the manual typewriter I used in the sixties, have bad hand pain. My sister is ten years older, and her hand pain is worse. I’m noticing my other pain centres and new ones now the biggest one has been relieved.

Doctors know this pain is often made worse by bad weather changes, though they don’t know why. So level 8 pain on Monday and Tuesday, dark and wet, only six and declining today. I do have a fantasy of a pain free day, but it is a fantasy. Today my right side is generating most of my pain for the extra use it’s had standing in and supporting my entire weight, and that of my wheelchair when I chuck it into my van. I hold onto to the van’s grab bar with my left. So today it’s my right knee, my right hip, my right shoulder wringing pain, add the hands, especially now that I’m typing again, and the sciatica thing. Well to sum up. I hurt pretty much everywhere. Hello chronic pain.

I’m grateful for the level of pain relief provided by the amputation. But I still hurt pretty much everywhere else, and on bad days it can still get to 8. No, I’m not looking for a reason to extend my handicapped parking permit, renew my pain meds, or to keep boring people with my bitch and moan.  That’s just the way it is. Pain is an everyday part of my “new normal.”



Several noteworthy deaths last week, including my cousin, two celebrity suicides, and two Manitobans who made a difference. Roland Penner, whose father was a communist and elected Winnipeg Alderman was originally from Gretna, Manitoba. His father and brother left the Communist party when they learned about Stalin’s atrocities.

Roland Penner was an elected member of the New Democratic Party from 1981 to 1988, serving as Speaker of the House, Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Attorney General, and Minister of Education during those years. He was also head of Legal Aid,  and is known for his support of LGBT issues and taught Law at the University of Manitoba.

The second is  William John Rhoda who died at the age of 97 June 4th. Born in South Africa, he went to South Africa’s only University for black people, and worked in the resistance to end apartheid, with participation in the student walkouts just one of his commitments. The government of the day made him a target for their Special Branch. He was able to get an exit (really exile) visa for himself and his family, settling in Winnipeg teaching at Andrew Mynarski School. When he returned to South Africa after the dismantling of apartheid, for the first time thirty years later, his former students and colleagues met him at the airport to express their thanks. My parents and siblings were teachers, one of my sons now as well.
I know how much it means to a teacher to be thanked by a student (long) after graduation.

My cousin    Abe Neufeld bought his first computer when he turned ninety. He like my father, sometimes he asked “Why am I here.” For all the black clad existentialists mulling this over before they turn 26, imagine raising the same questions 70 years later. My Dad died when he was 91, his sister and Abe when they were 94. A history of long livers not really a plus when you wake to pain everyday, and know you will never have a pain-free day ever again                                                     

I’ve had visitors in the last couple of weeks, and we all wondered whether it is possible to find “a reason to live and not to die, you are a lucky (hu)man,” (Alan Price) every day? A couple of times a week? I was the only person under seventy. It’s when I have such a hard day’s night, and even more on waking, that I wonder why I keep pressing. Currently I’m messing around with the idea that desire is what keeps me writing. Maybe that’s what Sisyphus is rolling up the hill. I’m at my limit for tonight so I won’t add any text about the suicides last week.








Bourdain and Spade decided, or so we hope, that seven decades, of even five decades were enough.

Victor Enns reads and writes poetry and fiction. Afghanistan Confessions, poems in the voice of Canadian soldiers, was published in 2014, boy in 2012. Lucky Man (2005) was nominated for the McNally Robinson Manitoba Book of the Year award.

Find everything from the Abject Dictionary to Quotations and Recipes, and a lot in between.