My left foot

June 20, 2011 • Posted in baseball, Beth Finke, blindness, book tour, Braille, Flo, Harper, Mike Knezovich, Seeing Eye dogs, Uncategorized, writing, Writing for Children by

I swim laps two or three times each week. Tapping the lane marker with every other stroke keeps me swimming straight, and limiting myself to the crawl stroke means I always have one arm in front of me — my head never bangs the end of the pool. Swimming has always been a safe form of exercise for me. Until last Thursday, that is.

I finished my laps that night and was heading back to the desk to fetch Harper when I slipped and fell back into the pool. My left foot must have gotten caught in the gutter as I took the plunge. It broke. In three places.

Can you tell which foot was broken?

“That cast is huge!” my friend Jenny’s 20-year-old daughter Claire exclaimed while we shared iced tea on their deck late Saturday afternoon. “It looks like the kind of Santa Claus boot we would draw when we were little!” The image made me laugh — one of many laughs I’ve shared with friends and family after my fall. All to explain how it is I am able to sit here and publish this blog post today. You know, rather than curling up in the fetal position in the corner to spend my days whining about my inability to swim or dance or walk or do much of anything until August.

Mike helped me hobble into the car Friday morning and accompanied me to Midwest Orthopedics for the diagnosis — and the cast — that I had dreaded. The first call we made once we got home was to the Seeing Eye so Mike could talk with trainers there about what he could do to help keep Harper on track during my recovery. Doug Bohl from the Seeing Eye encouraged Mike to take Harper on long walks for exercise. “But really, you all should focus on getting Beth’s foot back to normal rather than worry about how Harper will perform once she’s better,” he said, describing one Seeing Eye dog who had to quit working for four months when the person he guided got hurt. “That dog did fine after that. These dogs don’t forget their jobs.”

Mike uses a leash on walks, and the two of them stop at each curb, just like I do when Harper is on harness. Mike follows other Seeing Eye rules, too: dog lovers can’t pet Harper, and Mike doesn’t let Harper lunge or sniff at other dogs during walks, either.

Harper was supposed to lead me to the train to Glen Ellyn for their Bookfest Saturday. My friend Jenny’s husband was working in downtown Chicago Friday and offered to pick Harper and me up and drive us to Flo’s. My sister Cheryl was there waiting with a bottle of wine when we arrived. We shared some wine and laughs with Flo, I stayed overnight and slept like a baby.

Jenny’s sister Jill picked Harper and me up and took us to breakfast near The Bookstore the next morning: Harper’s first ride in a convertible. I hobbled with them to The Bookstore after breakfast and spent the afternoon seated at a table (foot up, per doctor’s orders) visiting with friends, signing books for customers and using my slate & stylus to poke out children’s names in Braille for them as they passed through the store. Bookfest 2011 was a hit.

After the Bookfest, we sat outdoors (my foot elevated, of course) at Jenny’s, sharing iced tea and stories with her and her family. Mike drove in from Chicago and joined us for a while, then helped Harper and me into the car for our ride back home.

Being with Mike and all of these other loving and supportive people the past three days really lifted my spirits. This is only a broken foot, after all. It will heal. And in the meantime, I’ll read books, work on a story assignment from National Geographic School Textbooks, brush Harper, watch White Sox games on TV with Mike, attend lectures, see a few plays (I have tickets for Porgy and Bess at Court Theatre), play fetch with Harper, check my blood sugar levels, get more comfortable using my iPhone, work up some jazz tunes on the piano, sit and share stories with friends, practice my newly-repaired accordion, publish blog posts, write a few books…as Flo would say, “I’d better get cuttin’.” There’s not enough time in a day to accomplish everything I need to do while this cast keeps me off my feet!

Tracie On June 20, 2011 at 9:26 am

Owww, I just read about your foot. I’m pleased (and not surprised) that you are taking it in your stride (bad oun intended) and not letting it affect your positive attitude.

You rock! (Even when you can’t dance)

Hava On June 20, 2011 at 9:46 am

I wish you well. May it pass quickly.

Gretchen On June 20, 2011 at 10:02 am

Ouch! I will think of you as I swim this summer and be more careful poolside as well. I hopw you heal quickly and still manage to enjoy the summer. I will check in with you later to make sure.

The Empty Pen On June 20, 2011 at 10:06 am

Ow! I hope you’re back on both feet soon!

Claire is right, your left side looks very Santa Claus-like. Ho ho ho.

Susie On June 20, 2011 at 10:27 am

The amazing and spirited Beth won’t be held back by having to keep one one foot elevated!
I have no doubt that you’ll be enjoying your life from this new vantage point !
My best wishes for your full recovery !

Audrey Mitchell On June 20, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Beth, you are amazing. Alwaya out there kicking and stepping…and starting a new adventure. Kudos.


Maria On June 20, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I can’t believe the freak accident you had that landed you in a Santa’s boot cast! OMG! Thank goodness you do have wonderful and supportive family and friends. You can’t get better than that! Sounds to me like your life with your foot up until August is going to be busier than ever…..while Mike tries to keep Harper on task whether the Seeing Eye says he needs to or not. Sorry to hear about this setback. However, as usual, you will rise to the occasion and make it work for you. As always, you remain one of the most remarkable people I know! Take care of yourself…listen to the doctors and Seeing Eye and heal (no pun intended) soon. Too bad I didn’t live in Chicago….I’d come over and read some books with you. 🙂

Jeff Flodin On June 20, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Yikes! Get well soon.

Poolside can be a dangerous place. Pools can be nasty. My dad slipped on the pool deck at a resort in 1967. He broke is great toe but didn’t spill a drop from the drinks he carried on a tray. What a guy!

Bob On June 20, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Why is the cast so b ig? I thought you just broke your foot.

Annelore Chapin On June 20, 2011 at 3:42 pm

ahhhh Beth,
so sorry to hear about your ‘Santas boot’ and wishing you a total and speedy recovery. I must say, you are amazing at ‘jumping right back in’. And there seems no ‘rest for the wicked’ either.


penn nelson On June 20, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Hey, welcome to the life of the injured! I fell out jmy pickup while unloading a garden edger, ramp slipped, machine fell and down came Penn, ramp, and machine. No broken bones but a lot of bruises twisted shoulder and a lot of criticism from family and friends about how 75 year old men should hire people to do things that 75 year old men should not be doing.
I smile and say you are right and I’m now doing a lot of swimming to rehab.

Heal fast!


Cheryl On June 20, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Great picture Beth! I know it’s going to be hard for you to sit for awhile but it’s the best thing you can do to help your foot heal. Just think, you can enjoy the air-conditioning while it’s so hot and sticky outside. I’m going to have to take a train ride to the city and have coffee one morning…..

Maureen Naset On June 20, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Beth — I love your positive attitude!! I’m sorry about your injury and hope that your recovery goes well. I’m sure this will be just a bump in the road for you.

bethfinke On June 21, 2011 at 6:43 am

Oh, you all are so sweet to think I am stoic and all that, but that’s only because I didn’t fess up on this blog post about just how miserable I was the day I got the news that my foot was indeed broken. One of the breaks is very long, goes from my third toe all the way to my ankle bone. I’m guessing that is why the cast is Flintstone size.
What I didn’t come what out and say in this post (wanted to keep it to an essay rather than a novella, I guess!) is that before landing on Flo’s doorstep Friday evening I *did* spend a decent amount of time here at home feeling very blue about this accident — not feeling sorry for myself, really, just feeling sick and tired of all these challenges and closer than I usually come to thinking about throwing in the towel.
Mike really has been a doll, though, and I am a lucky girl to have such a loving (and handsome!) man around to take care of Harper and me. The wine and cheese party with Flo and Cheryl was just what the doctor ordered, and that bookstore event couldn’t have been better timed.
Being with all these folks over the weekend really lifted my spirits, and hearing from all of you here at the blogputs a smile on my face as I sit at the computer keyboard. and yes, my Santa Claus boot is elevated, don’t worry — it’s under the desk on a footstool.

THANKS to all of you as always for your good wishes and concern — especially enjoy all the “heal” and “keeping my stride” puns. As the empty pen said –ho, ho, ho!

Linda On June 21, 2011 at 8:15 am

Another chapter in your always interesting life! Sorry to hear you won’t be getting around town as quickly as usual. Sounds like you still have a lot of fun activities planned! Thinking of you.

MaryEllen On June 21, 2011 at 11:11 am

You are a trooper, Beth!

Sending lots of healing thoughts your way and one bit of advice–once the cast is off, be sure to do ALL the exercises prescribed for the set amount of time. They may seem insignificant but will make a big difference. I stopped sooner than advised and still have some minor issues with that foot. My bad. Good luck!

bethfinke On June 22, 2011 at 9:33 am

Good advice, Mary Ellen. Had no idea you had ever broken your foot! Right now I’m saying I’ll do *anything* they tell me, just take this cast off!

Mary Swanson On June 21, 2011 at 4:28 pm

I bet you’ll find a way to dance with your foot elevated. My kids “love” it when I dance in the car. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Hang in there!

Ms. Earley On June 21, 2011 at 8:06 pm

“Heal” your pole at the stripper club is getting cold!

Benita On June 22, 2011 at 8:54 am

Does this mean we have to cancel the hula lessons? Knowing you, you’ll probably wind up teaching a class in hopscotch. Hard to think of you as sedentary. But let me add my get well wishes to those of your admiring hordes.

bethfinke On June 22, 2011 at 9:40 am

Now those were three very fun comments to read all in a row: Mary has me dancing while driving, Ms. Early has me pole dancing at the strip club, and Benita pictures me doing the hula. I’ll let you know which one happens first…!

Sandra On June 22, 2011 at 10:48 am

Ouch! Hope you feel better soon! Is there anything you forgot to add to that to-do list? *smile*

bethfinke On June 23, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Matter of fact, there is. I’m hoping to take French lessons, too!

Marcia On June 23, 2011 at 2:35 pm

While reading your latest blog entry my first concern was for you then, of course, Harper. How would you manage? How would Harper manage? But, you, Mike and friends seemed to have worked it out splendedly.
This particular entry and your blog in general reminds me of a quote by Joan Erikson. “Be generative. Passon what you know. In sharing there is real delight. People in every stage depend on other people. Our fo connection real growth happens. If there is no reciprocity, nothing ever works.”
Be well,

Marcia On June 23, 2011 at 2:42 pm

While reading your latest blog entry my first concern was for you then, of course, Harper. How would you manage? How would Harper manage? But, you, Mike and friends seemed to have worked it out splendedly.
This particular entry and your blog in general reminds me of a quote by Joan Erikson. “Be generative. Pass on what you know. In sharing there is real delight. People in every stage depend on other people. Out of connection real growth happens. If there is no reciprocity, nothing ever works.”
Be well,

bethfinke On June 23, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Ooooo, I like this line the best:
People in every stage depend on other people.

Thank you so much, Marcia.

Lisa, Ellie & Hosta On June 23, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Oh YIKES – that sounds painful! Hope you have a speedy recovery!

Marie G. Shelton On June 27, 2011 at 8:45 pm

This situation leads to another blog entry. I’ll bet it will be interesting going through airport security on your upcoming flight. They can’t take it off. They can’t open it up. And…I’ll bet there’s some metal inside that sets off a beep. Confound it ,Beth, confound them!.Have a good trip in Florida(?) and no one legged water skiing.
It was great chatting with you at Jean’s.
Audrey’s sister,

bethfinke On June 29, 2011 at 9:04 am

No one-legged water skiing?
Cancel the trip.

Cathy Carter On June 28, 2011 at 9:16 pm

I found your blog on Facebook through my Seeing Eye friendship. We are raising a puppy who is the offspring of our last pup who became a breeder when she returned to TSE. I just thought it was a little unusually coincidental that at the bottom of your blog is a Google ad for swimming pool openings by AquatechUSA. Is that just a coincidence or does Goggle place its ads that creepily?

bethfinke On June 29, 2011 at 9:07 am

I had no idea Google publishes ads with my blog posts. How funny (or should I say, sad?!) to think they advertised swimming pools on this one, about me breaking my foot poolside.

If I could be any age « Safe & Sound blog On July 1, 2011 at 5:52 pm

[…] had us all over to her place for some snacks and refreshments. Another student chauffeured me and my Flintstone-sized cast to Jean’s Hyde Park apartment. A third was waiting at the door to help me […]

Lori Keller On July 2, 2011 at 11:49 am

Oh Beth! I’ve been away traveling the last couple of weeks and am just getting through my emails – and came across this one. A couple of years ago after spending a week in Mexico City with Mike G. and Monica – on the very day we returned, I slipped down the staircase at the Chicago Opera house and broke my foot. During my recovery I became overconfident in my hopping abilities. I hopped wrong 3 weeks in and broke the other foot. Marcia was right about her comment regarding depending on others. I didn’t ask others for much help and remember how miserable I was due to my own ‘independent’ streak. Time will pass more quickly with others around you when you can’t just get up and do stuff for yourself.

bethfinke On July 3, 2011 at 9:22 am

Did you heal completely, or does it still pain you to walk? I am trying to be patient but have fears that I’ll never be able to walk pain free again. Am also concerned that when I finally recover I still won’t be able to walk as fast as Harper does. Boohoo, the main reason I decided to have Hanni retire is that she walked so slowly in her old age. Now I fear I made a mistake, she would have been the perfect dog for me right now, in my *own* old age!

Healing « Safe & Sound blog On July 23, 2011 at 12:48 pm

[…] been toying with sending Harper back to Morristown while I stay in Chicago and recover from my broken foot. That guest post (called “What’s a Seeing Eye dog do when his human breaks her foot?”) ended […]

A succession of extraordinary days « Safe & Sound blog On August 28, 2011 at 12:42 pm

[…] appointment this Wednesday, I’ll be so busy dancing I won’t have time to assess that list I posted here of all the things I’d accomplish during my 12-week convalescence. Better do it now. Fingers […]

Energy to burn « Safe & Sound blog On October 24, 2011 at 10:21 am

[…] of months, my husband Mike Knezovich has had two full-time jobs. He rose to the occasion after I broke my foot in June, walking Harper, accompanying me to doctor appointments, chauffeuring me to the Chicago […]

Leave a Response