I can’t stop saying it. NO BONE SPREADING. To myself and anyone nearby. Actually, I said it compulsively leading up to my appointment earlier this week with the orthopedic surgeon, in the naive tradition of saying things out loud in an effort to make them true. But now it’s a legit outcome, not just wishful thinking.

NO BONE SPREADING. This means I can now commence with recovery and putting weight on my foot again in 10 days. I basically need to learn to walk all over again.

As I fearfully shifted weight onto my right foot for the first time in almost 3 months, I sighed with relief. The pain around my third, fourth and fifth metatarsals was still present, but not nearly as sharp. Brimming with more hope than I’d had for weeks, I crutched down the hall to get the x-ray interpreted by a pro. NO BONE SPREADING. Followed with clear instructions about orthotics, and the correct order of operations: elliptical machine, treadmill, and lastly, running on pavement.

This recovery thing will still be a long and painful one with many ups and downs, but NO BONE SPREADING, which indicates my ligaments are healing as they should, and I’ll probably get back to running again someday. The trick is now to kick that reality into gear, so I’m not only healing up well on film, but in the flesh and bone and biomechanics departments.

Most people have 26 bones in their foot, except for a few people who have fewer, the orthopedist explained. Those with fewer have had bones in their foot fused. But, in my case, NO BONE SPREADING. And usually, that translates into no bone fusion.

NO BONE SPREADING, so I have to chart my own rehab course, however long that takes. I have become a skilled killer of time. Obsession with March Madness brackets, and now NBA playoff basketball have consumed me. Once I got over my jealousy about players’ mind blowing ability to use their feet, I became a fiendish follower of underdogs with an actual chance to turn the tables this season, namely the University of Michigan Wolverines and the Golden State Warriors. When I stood on both feet for my latest x-ray, I told myself that if Steph Curry can tough it out to score 30+ points in a playoff game on injured ankles, I can stand 30+ seconds for an x-ray.

Besides the basketball cure, no alternative remedy or treatment is going untried. Stinging nettle treatments, comfrey in every imaginable form, emu oil, acupuncture, Solomon’s seal tincture, Chinese herbal bone marrow formulas, magnet therapy, and mud from a magic spring a friend claims has the power to heal. I do more than an hour of stretches and exercises each day, and have started swimming in pools when I have the chance. Going 15 feet without crutches using my frog kick is a moving experience.

Strange as it is, I am learning things from being stalled out during this injury. Increased efficiency, renewed appreciation for others, better battle selection, the importance of expectations management, focus on what’s right in front of me are all positive consequences of the revolting development that is my disabled foot.

In the end I think I’ll be stronger for all this weakness, pain and frustration I have to find a way to overcome.

Did I mention that the doc saw NO BONE SPREADING and perfect alignment in my right foot?