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I’ve Lost That Loving Feeling…Or Really Just Any Feeling in My Foot

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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.

 

22549726_10212105313560597_8252096818915267053_nIn 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.

 

22555212_10212105312640574_8935000541392214211_nWhile 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.

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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. 

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What a Pain in the….FOOT?

In running you are always warned about doing too much, too fast.  When a problem or injury occurs, it comes back to the reasoning that you did too much, too fast.  While I absolutely believe this reasoning – it’s true to many aspects of life – hearing these wise words while you are in throws of an injury is just ridiculous.  I’ve already done the damage, now what?  I don’t want to hear about what I should do in the future, I want to know what I can do right now to stop this pain.  And then, HOPEFULLY, I will remember the wise words as I ramp up training again (but, then again, I am a runner, so I might just forget them when I tie up my shoes for my next 10k training run).

So, you might wonder what my most recent rant is about, and what I abuse I have caused my body recently.  So…let’s start from the beginning….

In mid-Spring I decided I wanted lighter, faster running shoes.  I went to my local running store and talked to them about my gait, running preference, etc.  They watched me on the treadmill and came back with several suggestions.  I understand that finding the right shoe is extremely important in avoiding injuries in the future and that you need to find the right shoe for you because everyone is different.  I was up to the challenge to find my next dream shoes.  I diligently tried each of the suggested shoes.  Making repeated trips from the shoe area to the treadmill and running about a quarter mile with each new pair.  After about eight pairs and two miles on the treadmill I had narrowed down my choice to the Newton Motion V.  The shoes felt great and I was intrigued by Newton’s Action/Reaction Technology. There are lugs near that ball of your foot that, in Newton’s words, “creates a responsive, trampoline-like cushioning system that provides quicker bounce-back and loses less energy than a traditional foam-core running shoe.”   The sales person explained that this bar of lugs would improve my running form and help me to run on the balls of my feet inside of the back of the foot where I tended to run (but have deligiently been working on changing).   I admit the shoes felt pretty weird with this raised bar across the ball of my foot, but I was promised I would get used to.  I was super psyched to get out with my new shoes and I have to admit my first runs in the shoes I felt lighter and was clocking faster times.  So, I was a convert.  The Action/Reaction Technology still felt strange but I was ready to get used to it for the results I was getting.  After runs I did feel some tingling and numbness in my toes, but thought that was pretty normal and the feeling always went away, so it wasn’t causing me any concern.

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We are headed past the llamas to the top of the mountain at 15,000+ feet

Fast forward to June 2017.  My husband and I are taking our dream trip to Peru.  The plan was to fly in to Cusco, Peru, acclimate a little to the elevation and then do the Lares Trek and head to Machu Picchu.  The Lares Trek is an Inca Trail alternative that is less crowded and while it doesn’t take you directly to Machu Picchu, it takes you over a 15,000+ foot pass and takes you completely off the beaten path where you see stunning mountains, lakes and valleys and get to walk through villages and meet the people who live in the Lares Valley.  While I was most concerned about making it from 8,000 feet to 15,000 feet to the top of the pass that actually turned about to be the easier part of the trek.  (Yeah for no altitude sickness – living in Colorado really does pay off!)  The air was definitely thinner but I felt comfortable scaling the mountains to reach our pass.  The trip from 15,000 feet back to 8,000 feet is what took the toll on my body.  The trail was made up of loose rock and at times was pretty steep.  The constant pounding on the ball of my feet left me with the familiar numbness and tingling in my toes (just on my right foot).

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We came down from the top of that mountain, a 7,000 foot descent.

One the third day of our trek when we finally made it to Auguas Calientes at the foot of Machu Picchu we were dirty and exhausted and so excited to turn in our hiking boots for flip flops.  After one of the best showers I had taken in my entire life I noticed that the numbness and tingling in my right foot was not getting any better.  I mentioned it to my better half and we decided that it was just the pounding I put on my foot as we descended 7,000 feet.   I didn’t really give it much more thought because we were in an amazing place getting ready to see a wonder of the world the next day.

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Beautiful Auguas Calientes at the foot of Machu Picchu

Fast forward again to August 2017. It’s been almost two months since we got back from our amazing trip and we have settled back in to the dull drums of “regular” life.  Pretty much work, work, and more work.  Unfortunately, my toes were still feeling numb (just a few toes on my right foot) and I decided I needed to suck it up and find out what was going on, so I set up an appointment with my primary doctor.  My health insurance requires you always start with your primary doctor for any problem and they will refer you on to a specialist if necessary.  I completely understand the reseasoning behind this, but when it’s hard to find an hour to sneak away from work it’s even harder to find a couple hours on a couple different days to see a couple different doctors.  Anyways, I went to my primary doctor and she was a little stumped.  She sent me to go get x-rays to see if there was a stress fracture (there wasn’t) and then referred me to the orthopedic doctor.  A couple days later I found myself at the orthopedic doctor and he briefly looked at my foot and diagnosed me with metatarsalgia.  From my understanding, and the wise words of WebMD, metatarsalgia is a condition in which the ball of your foot becomes painful and inflamed and can be caused from running, jumping, or wear shoes that don’t fit right.  After my diagnoses, I decided to take it easy on my foot for a while.  I have cut down on the running and have been following the majority of the doctor’s suggestions, but I haven’t had any relief.  My toes are still numb and sometimes my foot feels like its cramping up.  Since my trip to the doctor was less then satisfactory I decided to do some of my own research on metatarsalgia and found quite a few articles about how switching from traditional running shoes to Newton’s can actually cause this problem.  While I thought it was from our hike in Peru, it turns out the problem had probably already started long before our hike and the 7,000 foot descent was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I found the following on Newton’s blog “Forefoot pain, also known as ‘Metatarsalgia,’ is a condition indicated by pain and inflammation under the ball of the foot. This is increasingly prevalent in runners who are making a change to minimal footwear, barefoot running and Newton Running Shoes. As with virtually all running injuries, forefoot pain is a result of doing too much, too fast, too soon.”  The blog then goes on to explain that I shouldn’t blame the shoes, but rather something I did, or something wrong with my foot that was there long before I switched to Newton’s.  This is kind of frustrating because they obviously know this is an issue, but no one at the running store who sold me the shoes said anything about it.  Yes, I should have done more research prior to my new shoe purchase but I was also hopefully that if this was an issue someone might have mentioned it to me.

Fast forward to today.  My toes are still numb.  I’m still trying to figure out how to make them better.  But, they are numb whether I run or not so I am going to lace up my good ‘ol, trusty Brooks (with new arch supports that will hopefully help), and get back out there in hopes I can salvage my training for the Lake Powell Half Marathon in October.

Has any one else has similar issues with their feet?  Any suggestions or words of wisdom you can share on what you did to make it better?

disclaimerDISCLAIMER:  This is not an anti-Newton’s story.  I honestly really liked mine and wish they worked for me – I just wanted to share my experience in case anyone was going through anything similar.  This experience has definitely opened my eyes to how shoes can have such a huge effect on our health and injuries and is going to change how I approach my next shoe purchase.  

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

00000-liarIn my last blog post (remember the one WEEKS ago when I said I would write more), I wrote “if you have time to complain about being too busy, you obviously have some free time.”  Apparently writing this simple little sentence made someone, somewhere, very angry and they decided to put me in my place.  I’ll start by admitting this one of the busiest times at work.  A new semester means wrapping up an old one and starting a new, all at the same time.  It means freaked out student who need career guidance NOW.  And it means that there is so much energy and excitement that you can get caught up in which may cause you to over extend a little.  Over the past week, I have gone in early, stayed late, and worked weekends.  I worked almost 60 last week and my endless to do list just keeps growing and growing.

I haven’t gone for a run, strength trained, or been to the gym in over a week.  I haven’t felt like cooking (this isn’t much of a surprise), going out after work, or even turning on my computer to even look at other people’s blogs in the evening.  I have become a couch potato who binge watches old ABC Family shows on Freeform and goes to bed before it gets completely dark outside.  Then, the next day I am up when the sun starts rising and I start the same routine all over again.

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In just under 9 weeks I have my third half marathon in Lake Powell.  I am woefully unprepared.  I know I need to train.  I spend time each week updating my training plan, erasing the previous week when I only finished maybe one training session.  As I plan out my new training plan I tell myself that Monday I will start and nothing is going to stop me from my plan.  I will get up early and run or workout before work.  I know it’s going to feel good, that it’s going to set the stage for the rest of the day, but when the alarm goes off I tell myself that the plan can wait another day, I’ll start tomorrow – today I will just enjoy another 25 minutes of sleep and then I’ll go in to work early.

When I sat down to write this I thought I was going to prove to myself that you can be too busy, you can complain about it, and you can prove you don’t have any time for anything else.  But, instead I just feel like a whiney twit who, if they can write this post, obviously has a little free time.  So, no more excuses.  No more do overs.  No more waiting until Monday to start again.  The writing will get more regular because I realized I have a lot to share.  I haven’t even started to tell you all about our amazing trip to Peru!   So, I leave you with a picture from a Peru and a promise to fill you in on the details of our trip.IMG_5987