He reached under his pajamas and scratched an itch just above his right cheek. He kicked off his slippers. He looked at them with disdain. They made him feel old; neuropathy made them necessary. He hooked his thumbs inside the waistband and pushed the flannel pajama pants as he lowered them to the floor. He kicked the reluctant leg off his left foot. He didn’t wear boxers while he slept. He only began wearing clothes to bed when the kids moved in. He reached behind his neck and pulled the white t-shirt off his back and over his head. He dropped it near his feet. Every morning he had the same thought. He thought it was ridiculous to remove a t-shirt by crossing his arms in front of his chest and pulling it off by the waistband. But that’s how they did it in films. Their ridiculousness irritated him. He looked down at his left foot and noticed the big toe that soldiered by itself. Diabetes had stolen its neighboring toes. The toe was wrapped in gauze. He maneuvered the toe and tapped the button that activated the scale. He lifted his right foot and placed it over the silhouette that shaped a foot. “It’s like a chalk mark” he thought. He braced himself with his palm against the bathroom wall and lifted his left foot and placed it on the scale. “Three pounds?” he said aloud. “How the fuck did I gain three pounds in one day?” He braced himself and stepped off the scale. “I went to bed hungry,” he thought. He picked up his clothes and tossed them into the hamper. He bent at his waist and removed the gauze from his toe. He examined it. The ulcer on his toe had smeared a crimson stain. It had leaked on the surgical tape that held the gauze in place. He noticed the cloying odor that wafted from the pad. He tossed the two into the trash. He climbed into the shower, twisted the tap, tested the temperature, and stepped closer to the stream. He palmed the antibiotic soap and began his tasks.
He arched his foot as he walked toward his bed. He kept his toe elevated. The towel around his waist dropped to the floor. He ignored its desertion. He noticed the dried beads of blood that blemished his bed sheet. “Fuck!” he said aloud to an empty room. He pulled the sheets from the bed, crammed the sheets into a bunch, and tossed them into the corner. His foot cramped from maintaining the elevation so he pivoted and sat on the naked mattress. He raised both arms and covered his face with his palms. He gave his face a causal rub and reached behind him to grab the roll of gauze and a roll of tape. He returned and lifted his left leg and crossed it over his right knee. He bent at his waist and examined his toe. He noticed his leg was a bit swollen. He stretched his legs and looked for a parallel. The left leg was swollen. “Fuck!” he said aloud to the empty room. “Goddamn it!” He bent and examined his foot. It wasn’t red. It wasn’t hot. It wasn’t swollen. He knew his foot wasn’t infected. Fourteen years since the surgery, he knew the signs of trauma.
He reached for his phone and located the contact. “Hey Diane. How are you?” He listened while she answered his question. Their routine interactions made their voices and conversations casual and comfortable. “Okay, I’m okay. But. I’m not doing the online report today because this morning I noticed my leg is swollen and I’ve gained three pounds overnight. And you said I should call. Could my symptoms be any more classic? Damn.” He listened while she talked. “Yeah, I have an appointment with the titration nurse tomorrow.” He listened while she talked. “Yeah, I’ll ask her. So should I go buy a diuretic or will she prescribe one?” He listened while she talked. “Tomorrow. I see him in the morning. I’m telling you, I love my podiatrist.” He causally strummed the space of skin over his heart and noticed the hair had begun to resprout. He felt the spikes of the stubble. “Thanks. I’m so glad you guys have this service. I don’t know this stuff yet. You’re a great resource.” They exchanged pleasantries and he ended the call. He leaned back on his bed and stared at the ceiling. “Fuck” he said to the empty room.