2014 The Year Of A Leg Obsession

2014 The Year Of A Leg Obsession


Have you ever found yourself choking the dust back; twisted and bruised, wishing you could relive the past 4 seconds or less? Was that just my worst nightmare, you whimper, just before a stream of unrepeatables flow from your lips? Negligent self-guilt plays games with your confused mind. How could I let that happen? Those first steps tell all, walking may not be “normal” for a while.

It Is The Journey, Not The Destination – This was Day 17 of my past year. Cambodia landscape from a ground zero perspective after a tumble from a bicycle going slightly faster than zero trying to save my dearly beloved form a crash. It was the beginning of my journey to recovery and a year long obsession with all things legs.

Be Thankful For Small Things- No Phnom Phen hospital visit for me. Yarg! Visions of hypo needles danced in my head! Besides, I might learn an x-ray truth that would have me on the next plane to Canada. Three days after I was reluctantly carried into a Cambodia strip mall medical clinic my doctor, two nurses and the fourth 24-hour attendant, the dear doctor’s sister, waved bon voyage. My smiling medical attendants were armed with Canadian flag pins and stickers and their bill was paid in cash. Hobbling out the door for six more weeks of Asian adventure, bearing a “hockey players groin injury” handicap, I was more anticipatory than reticent. A three-week recovery by an athlete should have me dancing in six, I kidded myself, ever mindful of the doctor’s caution, “the elderly take longer to recover”. Armed with one crutch, capsicum salve and painkillers for a week (total medical bill, $167.00C), I was ready to tackle anything Southeast Asia could toss my way that didn’t require a fast reaction time. Or much walking.

When Life Drops You Lemons, Adapt – Healing was frustratingly slow. Plodding along with my physical, hunchback profile through Vietnam, then Laos and northern Thailand. I was jealous of elders who could slowly amble a street, never mind any body that could skip, dance, run, jump, flit or perform any reasonable facsimile to a smooth, upright movement of the human body or walk up a single step. Ouch! Gimping and limping, shifting and swaying; the simplicity of ambulatory motion was no longer taken for granted. Locals asked what was wrong in the universal language, pointing worriedly to an obvious lack of cadence in my step. Avoiding the slightest deviation from level, almost impossible in Asia, became the new modus operandi. Burdensome camera equipment was tucked away, mirrorless and primes took over. The crutch was not shed until Laos, gleefully left behind in a land desperately needing many crutches that the first world takes for granted. Local transportation required leg support, airports required wheelchairs. I humbly submitted. Plans involving much walking were abandoned for my two-wheeled nemeses, the bicycle, thankfully still widely available in Asia.

Look For The Gifts – Where were the aces in my deck of jokers? Massage, massage, massage. Always looking for an excuse to have massages they now became necessities, widely available and, at ten dollars a session, a gift. Slowing down my photography was now the only option. It was a gift. The smiles when I rented bicycles were a gift. The freedom, moments later, from the agony of walking Asian roads was a gift. Walking is a gift.

You Are Your Own Worst Enemy – I had been kidding myself. Fast-forward two months, in the hospital setting so desperately avoided weeks previous, I was staring at a negative I did not want to look at. Although not exactly my negative, in one way, it very much was in another. It was more than my creative self, it was myself. My monochromatic inner workings projected back memories of biting the Cambodian dust, still perfect on one side but the mirror image had a flaw with its repair rippling across a crushed calcium landscape. Doctors offered up painkillers that I had defiantly not missed in weeks. With this new information I meekly slipped out of the hospital into the slippery Canadian winter. The surgeon had embarrassingly just instructed me which hand to hold a cane in. I was feeling far less independent than the moment of my brief Tiny Tim debut in Asia the previous month, proudly mocking what my body had been telling me all along.

The Road To Recovery Is Twisted – Hipbones repair in ten weeks. Done. On to the soft tissue stuff and, not so fast. Muscles and ligaments and tendons and a myriad of fleshy strings and cords and pushy –pully things most folks hope never to become painfully intimate with, all of which combine to allow the simplest, most taken for granted human operation, walking. The rest of the year the familiar jingle “the hip bone is connected…to the…thigh bone …” echoed over and over as I rumbled on, through the days and months of conditioning and strengthening. Heating pads and cold wraps became new bed partners, pillows placed five inches above the heart, acupuncture needles jabbed, physio electrodes rattled, teeth clenched through active release therapy, anything anti-inflammatory became a best friend. My senior walking companion, our Irish Setter, had a sympathetic cheering section; together we modified our fitness program towards smooth, flexible tempo.

And so, 2014 was The Year of My Obsession With Legs. The photos below exemplify my jealousy of the simple act of painless walking at a time when every step reminded it was not available to me.


For images of more leg obsession:




Hoi An culture photography
Hoi An Vietnam Bicycle Injury ©heather simonds


monk travel Asia
Cambodia Walking @heather simonds


Monk Buddhism sunset
Meditative Walking @heather simonds


travel baby Asian dancing
Dancing Legs @heather simonds
travel Asia boy riding
Oversize Bicycle Requires Strong Legs @heather simonds


Palm Oil Collecting Asia
Palm Tree Climber and Oil Collector @heather simonds


travel Asia Asian
Cambodia Sunset Taken One Week After A Broken Hip @heather simonds


6 Responses to “2014 The Year Of A Leg Obsession”

  1. Sandra Mascolo

    Your “2014 Obsession…….” was a great read – you certainly had your ups and downs – hopefully the “ups” will be predominant this year. Also thoroughly enjoyed your annual letter. Your photos, of course, continue to be stunning. All the best to you & yours for 2015 & many years to follow.

    • Heather

      Thanks, Sandra. The photo of the mannequin legs in the bicycle was me in Asia. Head was not part of the body experience. Hoping to be more “together” this year.

  2. Lee-ann Harder

    Hi Heather,

    Great writing and so can relate. Denial really can be a beautiful thing.


    • Heather

      Yes, it kept me from changing my plans and returning to a cold winter. Muscles and stringy things prefer the warmth. And so do I.

  3. Doreen

    Only you could be tough enough to forge on with a broken hip and then turn your crippling injury into a beautiful read and photos!

    • Heather

      Let us just say, if I knew then what I know now, I would have been crying a bit more. I met a lot of nice therapists in many countries, and for that, I am grateful.



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *