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William J. Dagendesh

Last November I strained some tendons in my left foot resulting in a lengthy recovery and source material for this month’s column.

Anyone who has experienced similar injuries knows these appendages are your transport to everywhere. Applying pressure to the injured limb during recovery is almost impossible, thereby taking eons to heal. In short, you’re dead in the water.

I explained the situation to my editor and editorial assistant. They knew my ability to shoot photos to accompany assignments was as promising as Santa refusing milk and cookies for granola bars and Slim Fast. Instead, they assigned me stories I could conduct over the phone and/or through email. Every journalist should be so blessed.

It depressed me that searing pain could keep this former half-marathon runner from running to the little boy’s room, a feat now comparable to walking from coast-to-coast barefoot on broken glass. Experiencing stabbing pain shooting up my leg made for anything but a cool yule.

Even more depressing was that my wife, Peggy, paid the bills, shopped for groceries and tended to my every need as I wondered how long I would be relegated to disability status. Let’s face it, injured muscles take longer to heal when you’re a relic like me. And, while my foot needed time to mend, my upper leg muscles needed exercise — a classic Catch-22.

So, what was I to do during the healing process? Obviously, I couldn’t move; however, I couldn’t sit in the same spot 24/7. What I did know was I couldn’t let myself become stationary and had to figure out how to move about the house. That’s when I realized Peggy’s roll chair could allow me to move around with my crutches controlling my movement.

I was a pitiful sight, resembling a 6-foot-1 snail as I inched my way across the living room carpet and onto the tiled kitchen floor, shouting “Giddyap, horsey!” Thankfully, I didn’t topple backward as I had done in a similar incident years ago. The linoleum broke that particular fall; however, my chiseled, movie-star good looks were never the same. Sigh!

In time, my foot and leg muscles strengthened, and my mobility returned. Although sitting down, I could now cook, wash dishes and romp with our two black Labrador dogs. I rejoiced in my progress and that I might soon qualify for the Special Olympics.

Then, just as I began to see light at the end of my disability tunnel, I caught a bad chest cold. You know the kind, lots of yucky congestion, coughing, fever and sneezing. Talk being kicked when down. A friend told me drinking whiskey would loosen the congestion. I did as instructed and lost two days.

Christmas Eve saw me stand upright — for a couple of minutes, anyway — and by Dec. 30 I retired the roll chair. Although mine was a dark ordeal, victory, in the end, was mine. (This is where you, the reader, clap your hands, cheer and throw berry-laden wreaths at my feet).

Indeed, life happens to everyone, especially yours truly who twice has succumbed to excruciating foot pain, each an unforgettable experience. I like to think my ship one day soon will come in and deliver me from future bouts. However, with my luck, on that day I probably will be at the airport.

William J. Dagendesh is an author, writer and retired U.S. Navy chief photojournalist and editor. He has lived in southern Colorado 20 years. Contact William with comments or ideas for his column at

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