Sunday, January 1, 2012

Walmart + Crutches =

Happy New Year’s…I guess. Let me start by saying I should really probably definitely take this opportunity to make a resolution not to do stupid things that keep me from the activities I love—or activity of any kind.

So instead of being a plantar fasciitis blog, I’m turning this into a blog about what not to do to your feet. Remember restraint? Well, then you’re the only one, because I didn’t. Long story short, I had worked myself up to a consistent 9 miles/day, with several 12-milers interspersed. I felt great—no problems whatsoever. So I tried a couple of long runs, and still felt fine (other than the soreness I would expect). In fact foot pain was just a distant memory.

Then on Tuesday, a week and a half after Thanksgiving break ended, I finished up my run with mild pain in both heels. I didn’t think anything of it until I tried to walk to class later that day and could hardly use my right foot until I had been walking on it for a little while. Just resting, I could make my feet hurt with dorsiflexion, or pushing on the outside edges of my heels—it felt like heel bruises. So I took a few days off and iced, went back to just the pool and biking.

By Friday I felt better, so I tried to run again after being in the pool, since motion seemed to help warm things up and move better. Bad idea. I didn’t make it very far before I had to stop and hobble back to the locker room at the pool. I think I took 8 aspirin throughout the rest of the day just trying to make it through.

The next morning I could hardly get out of bed. I had to crawl to the bathroom and slide down the stairs. The doctor at the walk-in (the only place open on a Saturday) prescribed ibuprofen and told me to stay off it for a couple days, only swimming. The diagnosis? Insertional achilles tendinitis, although, she said, “it’s odd you have it in both feet.” I was to come back in two weeks if it still hurt to walk.
A week and a half later (it got bumped up because of Christmas) I was back talking to my regular doctor, who listened to my symptoms and said he didn’t think it was tendinitis. On the ibuprofen prescription, the left foot felt pain-free, but I still couldn’t raise my right heel off the ground. He prescribed naproxen for “inflammatory issues,” sent me for x-rays of my ankles, and referred me to both physical therapy (again) and a sports medicine doctor.

The sports doc took more x-rays (this time specifically of the heels), but found nothing. She thought it was either tendinitis or a stress fracture. So I got an MRI scan of my right foot, both to rule out the fracture and (since the pain was more behind my ankle, which I thought was too high up for a calcaneal fracture) to look at the tendons/ligaments in my foot.

So on Friday I found myself struggling not to pass out while I stared at the crack in my heel bone and thinking about all the things I had done since it happened and probably made it worse, and that oh my god there’s a crack in there right now and it’s my foot and I’ve never been good with blood/anatomy type stuff anyway and it all just overwhelmed me. Not to mention, it’s both feet.

So now what? Well, right now I’m sitting on my butt all day because there are no pools open on New Year’s. The only things I’m allowed to do are aqua-jogging (no impact) and swimming with a pull buoy (no kicking). The biggest workout I got today was trying to navigate Walmart on crutches (note to self: shop at Giant for the next few weeks). The sports doctor said I’m looking at 3-4 months before getting back to running. I go back in two weeks to (maybe) get rid of the crutches and just go with the walking boot for a while…but that still leaves three days of getting to class on crutches. I guess I’ll just have to give myself a lot of extra time wherever I go!

My sister asked if it was hard to use the crutches…I said the hardest part is landing on the other foot, which I know also has a stress fracture. I can just imagine making the other one worse while I’m trying to heal the right one.

I’ve been off all pain medications for about three days now. In fact, I Googled a bit and found some articles suggesting that both ibuprofen and naproxen can keep bone from healing…. Go figure, I should have been taking Tylenol the whole time! But it doesn’t hurt to walk around the house or to/from the pool locker room, so I guess I’m getting somewhere. In the meantime, I’ve been chugging milk as fast as possible without thinking about it (I hate milk) and trying to find yogurt that doesn’t taste gross (minimal success there). All those grade-school lessons about how calcium builds strong bones are coming back!
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