I am a career counselor at a community college and I feel like I have been going non-stop since the middle of August. To say this semester has been busy would be a complete understatement – this semester has been completely insane. I have no idea what has made it different than any other semester but it has been shear madness! Today is my first day of fall break and tomorrow we leave for Las Vegas – I am beyond excited! I need a break from work and life more than anything right now. Of course, things can’t be that easy, you can’t get a few days away without first paying the price. Paterno Dog was sick all weekend with stomach issues and had to be switched to a rice diet to get his tummy back on track and late last night I found a weird bump on Coaly Dog’s ear that needs vet attention before we can drop her off at Camp Bow Wow first thing tomorrow morning before heading to the airport. The joys of being a dog parent! But, I am trying to be optimistic and get through the day by repeating “In-n-Out Burger…In-n-Out Burger…In-n-Out Burger” over and over again and dreaming about a Neapolitan milkshake and a margarita (or daiquiri – I’m not picky) the size of my head.
So, this little mini rant wasn’t even the purpose of why I was writing today. I was going to give you an update on my foot which has been injured since we got back from Peru in June. In September I first told you about my foot and told you about being diagnosed with metatarsalgia and what I had deemed were the suspects of how I had got metatarsalgia (hiking, running in Newton’s, etc.). Since then my toes on my right foot have still been numb and nothing really has seemed to help them. After going to the ortho doctor in August I drastically cut back my running as per their request but, I was still half-heartedly training for the Lake Powell Half Marathon. I actually wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to run the half in the middle of October, but I wasn’t feeling any pain when I was running – just the constant numbness, so I was tentatively planning on running it or at the very least walking it. After loosely following the doctors’ orders for a couple of weeks without any feeling returning to my foot I followed-up asking about next steps. The ortho doctor made two suggestions: one was to get an EMG to make sure there wasn’t any nerve damage we were dealing with and two was to schedule a second opinion with a foot and ankle surgeon. Both seemed liked solid plans so I got both appointments scheduled and was ready for my next plan of attack to figure out what was going on with my foot.
In early October I went to the neurologist for the EMG. I was extremely nervous for the EMG because I had never been to a neurologist and have never had any testing like this before. It was actually pretty interesting, but I have to be honest, it was not the most pleasant experience I have ever had. First, the doctor stuck probes to my legs and sent different levels of currents through my leg and foot in different areas to see how the nerves reacted. Some were pretty light while other currents were very strong and would lift my leg right off the table. After that test, she then inserted a needle into the muscle in the back of my lower leg and conducted some more current tests, these were my least favorite and kind of made me want to throw up. After about 45 minutes of testing, we were done and the tests showed absolutely nothing, my nerves were all behaving normally. It was at this time that the doctor mentioned that the EMG wasn’t really good at diagnosing nerve issues in the foot. (This would have been good information at the beginning of the test). But, at least we were able to rule out any bigger issues.
After ticking off nerve issues from the list it was back for the second opinion with the foot and ankle surgeon. I was already a little nervous because surgeon was in his title instead of just doctor and soon after meeting him he did let me know that he did prefer to fix problems through surgery, which was slightly concerning. He looked over my foot, my x-rays, my nerve conduction study and once again diagnosed with atypical metatarsalgia. Meaning I really only have one symptom of metatarsalgia, the numb toes, and no real pain. He immediately started talking about how he felt that my issues stemmed from my tight Achilles and he could solve all my problems my simply cutting open the back of my lower leg, elongating my Achilles and stitching me back up. This would only take me out of commission for about 4-6 months and it wasn’t a guaranteed fix for my problem of numb toes. I let him know, very firmly, that surgery would be my absolute last resort. Mostly because there was absolutely no guarantee that the surgery would improve the numbness in my foot because my symptoms did not clearly match those of metatarsalgia. I like to gamble, but not when it comes to cutting into my own flesh. So, we compromised. He gave me a cortisone/steroid shot to see if that would give me any relief from the numbness and put me on a new stretching regimen. After the steroid/cortisone shot I got no relief. My toes were still numb and absolutely nothing had changed. As you can imagine my frustration and desperation level was continuing to grow.
While all this was going on we were getting closer and closer to the Lake Powell Half Marathon and before I knew it, it was the middle of October and time to pack up the car and head to beautiful Page, Arizona. I decided, probably against my better judgment, to run the half marathon. In all fairness, I had asked the doctor about it and while he didn’t seem thrilled about the idea he did say that it probably wouldn’t hurt my foot any more. So, on October 21st I successfully ran the Lake Powell Half Marathon. It wasn’t my fastest time, but it wasn’t my slowest, and I ran the majority of it and it felt amazing to be running in such a beautiful place. I think I really took in the experience because I knew that after this half I would be hanging up my running shoes for a while and really be focusing on recovering and so it was just a great experience. Yes, I had pain (by the end it kind of felt like someone was stabbing me on the bottom of the foot), and yes, my toes did feel number (if that was even possible), but I was proud of myself for overcoming adversity and achieving a goal I had set for myself.
Okay, back to reality…the race is over, the glow of success has faded and my foot is still freaking numb. The cortisone/steroid shot hadn’t worked AT ALL and I am feeling pretty frustrated and hopeless. So, I reach back out to the foot and ankle surgeon to talk about next steps. As I suspected (and was avoiding), the next step was to completely rest my foot. My doctor wanted to put me in an old-school plaster cast (the one where you can’t shower, or drive, or function). I asked if a removable walking cast could be as effective and he was agreeable. The main reason for my request was 1) I have to drive work and 2) I already had a walking cast (for my right foot) from when I was battling from plantar fasciitis (oh the good ‘ol day when my biggest problem was plantar fasciitis). The main purpose of the cast was to rest the foot and NOT TO RUN! We decided to start with two weeks and see where we were after that. Two weeks came and went and I got absolutely no relief from the cast.
I’m really not sure where to go from here. The fact that none of the suggestions from the doctors have helped at all and the fact that my symptoms don’t really line up with metatarsalgia makes it really difficult for me to even start considering surgery. But, the doctors don’t have many more suggestions except surgery. I am not a believer in alternative medicine (my better half is even less of a believer) but I am frustrated that I am willing to try anything. Even when that anything is something like going to a chiropractor because I have read some articles where it was helped people with similar situations. I’m not a person who doesn’t believe in modern medicine, I believe, and respect, doctors and medicine, but I have had a really bad bout of care and advice regarding both my foot and my sinuses lately so I have become a little jaded and skeptical. Add to that the fact that running has always been what centers me and makes me sane and I haven’t been running in over a month, so my decision-making abilities are at an all-time low.
I wish I was writing to tie the saga of my foot up in a neat little bow, but here I am six months later without any answers or solutions…but still a very numb foot! So, this is just more of an update and if anyone out there has any suggestions or ideas I am all ears.