November 10, 2011

My Lucky Foot (November 10, 2011)

Okay . . . I have a twisted sense of humour

I have a lucky foot.
  No . . . not a rabbit's foot . . . MY foot!  My foot is lucky.

Why?  Because it has developed some problems over time and it's attached to a middle-income person in Canada.  Had it been attached to someone living in low income elsewhere without health insurance or someone living in the poorer parts of the developing world, my foot could have had an entirely different life.

The Problem.  As you'll recall, in the tent phase of this project I sprained my left ankle, and I mentioned at the time it was not the first time.  I actually wrecked my ankle pretty badly twice in my early 20's, and since then it has been prone to sprains due to permanent ligament damage.  Now, with all of the walking I've done in That Poverty Project, it has hastened the onset of additional problems.  My gait is changing with my ankle turning to the inside with every step . . . which affects my left knee . . . and ultimately my right hip.  Further, the pressure point on my left foot has changed so that the entirety of my weight is placed on a spot in near the ball of my foot about the size of a dime with every step . . . which has caused stress pain in my foot and some loss of feeling in the toes from time to time.  Not to worry though, I'm definitely having it treated.  However it got me thinking as to how things might be different were my foot in a different situation.

What if my foot were born to a poor family in the developing world?  In all likelihood, even if I were able to go to school (which is not a given), I would likely be involved in manual labour focused on trying to eke out an existence.  If I were to have wrecked my ankle in that environment, it likely would not have healed properly in the first place due to not having access to sufficient medical facilities ( . . . and certainly not the top notch physiotherapist who treated me . . . nor electronic stimulation therapy . . . nor ultrasound).  Forget about a cast or even a tensor bandage, I may not even have shoes.  As a result, I would have been at least partially crippled in my early 20's and quite likely unable to partake in the manual labour required of me.  Not being able to pull my own weight would diminish my ability to participate in community and care for myself and my loved ones.  With about 30 poor countries having a life expectancy of mid-50s or younger, I would likely die earlier than most.

What if my foot were born to a poor family in the United States?  While I would fare better than above, it may not be that much better.  I expect that the initial treatment would be good, although not great without medical insurance.  While there is a chance I would escape the poverty cycle, the odds are that I would still be involved in manual labour and still in the lower income bracket without health insurance.  Eventually, as the ankle joint wears down over time (and quickly if needing to walk a lot), and not being able to afford medical intervention, a point will be reached where the problem progresses to where walking is extremely painful and the related problems of knee and lower back work together to render me disabled.  Living on disability support without sufficient means to access proper health services will likely result in a premature death in my sixties.  And, I don't mean to pick on the USA . . . even with Canada's universal health care the problem may not be alleviated but simply delayed if I were to remain caught in the poverty cycle.  A recent study out of Hamilton, Ontario showed that those living in the richer neighbourhoods of the city lived on average 20 years longer than those in the poorest neighbourhood.

What is actually going to happen to my foot?  First of all, due to the wonderful treatment I received from a physiotherapist when the injuries first occurred, the problems with my ankle have not affected my lifestyle much until now (except for when it was sprained again from time to time).  Now that it has degenerated slightly with additional use, the first line of treatment is some orthotics to help straighten my gait.  Then, a cycle of treatment to strengthen other muscles in my foot and ankle will also help mitigate future problems.  Finally, I will be seeing a specialist to determine if there may be some surgical intervention that may help with the structural integrity of the joint.  In any event, I am fortunate to have the ability to perform work that does not require me to be on my feet AND I have no concerns whatsoever that it will affect my life expectancy.

Yup . . . I have a lucky foot!  Hopefully, one day in the not too distant future it will not matter nearly as much as to where a foot is in order to prosper.  In order to make this happen, we each need to do a little bit more than we are currently doing to improve the lives of those in need, especially speaking out to let our leaders know it is a priority.  Feet everywhere should have equal opportunity to reach their potential regardless of where they are born.

Phase II - Struggles of the Working Poor Daily Report
Day 9 (November 9th)
Weight at Beginning of Project:  233 lbs
Weight at End of Phase One:  216 lbs
Weight at Start of Phase Two: 221 lbs
Weight at Start of Today:  217 lbs

Available Funds:   $0.00 (leftover) + $6.50 (new) = $6.50
Funds Spent Today:  $6.50
Remaining Funds:   $0.00
New Loan:  $0.00
Loan Due Today: $14.16 (original loan amount - $13.95)
Loan Payment:   $6.50
Outstanding Loan: $7.66 @ 1.5% per day . . .  $7.77 due on Day 10
Items Purchased:   Nil
Free Stuff:  Nil

Gas Purchased* & Remaining:  $0.00 (i.e. 0.00 litres @ $1.129 per litre . . . 0.0 km @ 10 km/litre) + 0.49 litres (gas remaining) = 0.49 litres (4.9 km)
Driving Today:  0 km (i.e. 0.0 litres)
Gas Remaining:  0.49 litres (i.e. 4.9 km)

*Will not include any fuel or driving related to work that is paid for by work.

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