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I recall seeing a movie a few years back wherein a couple got pregnant and specifically gave birth to a daughter to provide life (in the form of, I believe, a bone marrow or blood transplant ) for their existing child who was dying. Since then, there have been all sorts of discussions and ethical debates about the morality of such a practice.

For our family, I may be well on my way to solving any such ethical dilemma.

It all began with my sore ankle. It has been bothering me for months, getting progressively more annoying. Since I have reached my senior years when things start to disintegrate, fall off willy-nilly, or just hurt much of the time, I ignored it at first. After all, I reminded myself, I had drug-free childbirth three times (in itself a miracle since I am known as Big Pharma’s Most Enthusiastic Fan) and a little ankle pain shouldn’t phase me. But the crunch came when I could no longer wear my pretty, high-heeled shoes without risking a capsizing. That would not do. I made a doctor’s appointment. I had already, in a pre-emptive strike, diagnosed myself with arthritis. After all, why should I be the only one in the family without it? I’m the only one who SHOULD have it, given my tiny, aged frame.

So off I went to the doc. This was the day of many chores. I had my foot appointment early, then Gill had her eye appointment to get the doc to peel back her sandpaper lids and provide some insight as to why she couldn’t open them herself upon waking in the morning, then Gill needed a passport picture taken, then had to spend God knows how long in an audience with the passport people, then we had a neighbor child’s birthday party to attend, then a belated birthday dinner for Gill at which the family would be present. A day that just screamed FUN! It became clear that one car would not be sufficient for our needs. Crazy D was still in a woods somewhere in North America with his car so that left us negotiating with L’il Sis for the use of hers. “You’ll be pleased to know, though,” we told her, “that the services of The Pig (beagle) as co-pilot will not be required this time.”

That plan didn’t work (perhaps The Pig’s nose was out of joint about her exclusion?) so we went to Plan B. Gill would come with me first to the foot doc, we would then take her to ‘see’ the eye doc –only if her lids could be pried open– and then we’d deal with the passport.

The foot doc entered the room, notes from my family doc in hand, and announced, “I think your doctor has it wrong.” Oh, great.

“I want to get one thing straight from the get-go,” I announced firmly. “There is no way in Hell you’re touching my bunions. I’ve become very fond of them and I’ve seen friends suffer through months of painful post-surgery recovery and I’d rather hobble on my knees than do that. Plus, I’d have to throw away all my lovely shoes since they’ve all conformed to my foot shape now and that would be a sacrilege. Nope, I’ll happily receive guests from my chair with my feet looking their most glamourous selves, not having to exert themselves by walking.”

He gave me an odd look. “I wasn’t going to saw off your bunions,” he tried to placate me. “My theory is, if they don’t pain you, leave them alone.”

I like this doc! We can work together.

He took my medical history. “Health generally pretty good?” he asked. Thankfully he didn’t add ‘for someone of your age’.

“Yes!”I answered enthusiastically. “Of course I still have headaches — but better than the terrible migraines I used to have. And there’s the osteoporosis. And the scoliosis. And I suspect the teensiest touch of arthritis. Oh, and I was born with a heart murmur . I do get occasional palpitations but I’ve always had them. And the high blood pressure…but that’s under control with meds. I was told as a kid that I had flat feet…but then they said I didn’t have them. Then I was told when in college that I have an extra kidney. Then they backed it up to being ‘a partial kidney’ which I took to mean ‘big enough to be in the way but not complete enough to be of any use to anyone’. As you can see, I was born with hammer toes and my eyesight is just barely above the legally blind stage for driving purposes. My children would beg to differ. They keep trying to take my car away from me but I think that’s just because they need the car…I haven’t told them about the Northern Lights-like shimmering at the edges of the eyes. No need to alarm them. So, yes, in answer to your question, I consider myself quite healthy.”

Why was his mouth gaping open?

“We’ll take some scans and be able to tell you for sure what’s going on.” He left the room quickly, perhaps fearing my odd conditions might somehow navigate to his own apparently robust body.

Scans done, he returned with the good news. “It’s not as serious as your family doctor thought. It will have to be treated with orthotics, but that’s not a big deal. The intriguing thing is that you have an extra ankle bone on each foot! That’s the bone you see sticking out that has been bothering you. Your condition is fairly rare but I have seen it before.”

Back in the car, I couldn’t contain myself. “Gill, you’ll never guess! Not only do I have an extra half-a-kidney, I have two extra ankle bones! You don’t happen to need something along that line, do you?”

She looked at me aghast. “You what??!! Okay, now I know what happened to you, Ma. In the womb, you must have been twins…then you canabalized the other one and those are its leftover parts. OMG! Do you mind if I get out and walk the rest of the way? You’re making me REALLY nervous right now.”