A Giant Pile of Meh, or: A Halfhearted Attempt to Find Silver Linings

I don’t have much good to say.

The first two weeks in the boot came and went without much (any?) noticeable improvement. (It’s honestly hard to tell, since part of being in the boot is premised on taking away the daily discomfort I was feeling. To see if things are better, I have to seek out that discomfort, which is counterintuitive and something I’ve been trying not to do.) Since my insurance changes Oct. 1 and a whole new world of medical care opens up (…and a whole new world of expenses, but that’s another story), I opted to just stay in the boot for now and pursue a raft of second/third/fourth opinions at that point.

I probably should have stopped there. However … yesterday, I ended up getting in earlier than expected with a doctor who was going to be one of those additional opinions. His take: two weeks in the boot never would have been enough; six wouldn’t be unusual; and he’d recommend that I be on crutches for at least the next two (and possibly three or more) of those weeks. That seems pretty dramatic, and it would require significant lifestyle modifications*. If it’s actually my only option, I guess it’s … my only option, but it also seems like a big leap considering the actual level of pain I’m in, even when my foot was at its worst. But what do I know?

{*To take one tiny example: The parking lot at my gym is permit-only, which is why I currently bike the mile there and back. Public transit is not a reasonable option (I’m talking, turning a 4-minute drive into a 30-minute, three-bus fiasco) and I’m loath to spend money on cabs just for that. If I drive, there’s no telling how far away I’d need to park, and this gym happens to be located smack in the middle of a large and (to my eye) relatively un-crutch-able hill. I may be able to buy a six-month pass for the permit lot if I can get a California temporary disabled permit, but I need a doctor to do the paperwork for that, and I didn’t know any of this yesterday, because just about the last thing I was expecting was to be told I needed to be on crutches. Also, even getting a disabled parking permit seems like massive overkill — ACTUAL PEOPLE NEED THOSE — so I’m tempted to just say screw it and sit on my couch rather than swim for the sake of, if we’re being honest, vanity.}

That doctor’s compromise suggestion was to keep me in the boot for three more weeks, until mid-October, and if I still had pain at that point, then I’d need to be on crutches for, um, who knows how long. I’ve been sitting with that info for almost a day now, and I’ve even tracked down a pair of loaner crutches, but … I don’t know. I’m hesitant to upend my life even further, but on the other hand, why delay the inevitable? It seems hard to believe that the six blocks I walk per day could be the difference between healing and not, but I’m not really in a position to judge. As of now, I *think* I’ve decided to use crutches only if I need to walk beyond my daily work and pool commutes, at least until after the two additional appointments I have scheduled for October 1 and 2. That gives the boot another week to be magic but doesn’t delay the process by three full weeks if it isn’t working. I guess. I think. I don’t know. But that’s where I am today.

My biggest frustration is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to check progress other than waiting to see if I stop having symptoms. It’s weird; people I know who have had foot stress fractures have had X-rays taken at various intervals to see if there’s been any healing. Maybe heels are different? Maybe because it’s just (“just,” ha) a stress reaction, it would never show anyway? I don’t know, and I keep forgetting to ask, because at every appointment the news gets a little bit worse, and then I’m too busy trying not to cry to think with a clear head. (That is extremely embarrassing but also extremely true.) I know these things are finicky and not even doctors can see the future, but … I’ve already seen two weeks in the boot turn into probably six. Why wouldn’t I suspect that two weeks on crutches would also turn into six? Then again, the boot hasn’t been that bad; I guess you really can get used to anything.

One more moment of venting: I swear, I did not try to run through this injury. I felt no pain during the run where it (apparently) happened. When I still thought I was feeling normal post-20-miler soreness, I tried one run, then shut things down for a week; one more run, then shut things down for two more; and then one final run, at which point I stopped for good. At various points throughout, both a doctor and a physical therapist told me to try running, and I was the one who said no. It didn’t “get to a point where” it got worse — it was not an issue, and then it was — and it wasn’t something I ignored or was cavalier with — at least not within the realm of the medical advice I was seeking and getting. I’ve done dumber things. Maybe this is karma for all of my previous transgressions, but this thing wasn’t dumb. I take a tiny bit of solace in that, but I also do wish I had a moment to point to to say “Oh, well, if I just hadn’t done that…”

And, just so this isn’t a total downer and in an attempt to get me focused on the positive out there, here are some things I can do:

I can get all my ducks in a row and plan for the worst cases. For example: I can research what I need for a DMV temporary handicapped placard and print out that paperwork and take it with me to my next appointment, so I’m not taken by surprise and it’s there if I need it. I can actually write down all my questions so that the next time I’m face-to-face with a doctor, I don’t get so emotional and overwhelmed that I forget how to think. I can learn how to use the crutches I’m borrowing, so that if I do need to use them full-time, I won’t fall down the stairs.

I can still swim and pool run, for now. If one of the doctors I see in early October wants me to stop, I will, but until then, you will have to pry those away from my shriveled, chlorine-scented hands. (And, to be clear, nobody actually wants me to STOP those activities. It’s more that I have to find an un-objectionable and un-ruinous way to GET to those activities.)

I can do core work. Like, come ON. The only excuse I have for not being better about this thus far is that I’m lazy. I can do it in my living room. I can do it lying down. Not doing it is stupid. I am not stupid. I know some basics, but I also emailed my last physical therapist to see if he can send me some ideas.

I can do easy, non-invasive things to try to heal. The doctor I saw yesterday recommended contrast baths — ice water, then hot water, then ice water. Buckets of water. In my living room. Sitting down. It might not work, but so what? Buckets. Of. Water. Once again, come ON.

I can read a lot of books. Anyone want to be my friend on Goodreads?

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15 thoughts on “A Giant Pile of Meh, or: A Halfhearted Attempt to Find Silver Linings

  1. Clair says:

    Can we start a Meh club? Blah. I hope you find some silver linings soon!

    • kimretta says:

      Club Meh! Like Club Med but more of a bummer?

      • Layla says:

        I like the “Club Meh” idea. Can I join?

        I know the cost is probably prohibitive, but an MRI will show signs of healing. Xrays are so iffy with stress fractures. At any rate, at least you’re doing what you can with what you have. That’s better than I often do.

        • kimretta says:

          My insurance has actually been excellent with MRI coverage up till now — the one thing I have to recommend that plan — but I’m about to have a deductible, so it will be different. That said … I’m expecting/preparing to blow through that deductible pretty damn fast.

          The practice I’m going to next week is in favor of ultrasound diagnosis/verification of diagnosis, so I guess I’ll see how that goes and then see if other tests are indicated.

          • Layla says:

            If the deductible restarts by the calendar year, that might be a double whammy. Ugh.

            I don’t know anything about ultrasounds, actually, but I like the “verification of diagnosis” phrase. At this point, adding another opinion to the mix can’t hurt! I hope next week goes well!

            • kimretta says:

              My deductible better effing not reset in January. pretty darn sure it’s plan year, but I’m adding that to the list of things I need to check on.

              (ETA, mostly for my own sanity, that the deductible IS calendar year but the last three months of the previous year can count as the next year so, um, that.)

  2. Jen says:

    This sounds very frustrating! I hope you get some clarity soon on the best way forward.

    As for the handicap permit — speaking from experience, it’s very easy to get. You should definitely not feel bad about using it, especially if this means it will get you to the gym, thereby (hopefully) helping you with recovery, staying fit, and strength training.

    • kimretta says:

      Ooh, OK, thank you for the push. I have started paying attention and the lot is never full when I’m there, and the handicapped spaces in particular are rarely occupied (and there are a lot of them), so I feel less guilty.

  3. Diana says:

    Ok, hell yes to Goodreads!!! You are welcome to be a proxy member of my book club 🙂 I have some core exercises I’m happy to share from my sports med chiro…they’re for general stability/running and posture so not really injury specific. They’re probably redundant with other stuff you’ve got but you never know.

    And, I’m really sorry. This sucks. I’m am really happy to see that there are things you *can* do [yay swimming!!] because surrendering to the can’ts right now seems to be the only reasonable option. I am thinking of you! Still visiting in late April–

    • kimretta says:

      Please share! I’ve been doing what I can do at home from my pilates class and modifying as necessary (one-legged planks? haha) but it gets boring and I could use more ideas!

  4. I agree it sounds kind of extreme (but not a doctor so ??) but it sounds like it’s worth doing FOR that reason….worst case scenario, you don’t do it and three months from now you’re still messing around with this pain and, kicking yourself for not doing *everything possible* from the very beginning. I’d do the whole crutches, handicapped parking thing just to assuage likelihood of future regret!

    Also, just added you on goodreads! It is my favorite social network!

    • kimretta says:

      Ughhhh yeah, I go back and forth about what the worst-case scenario is. Like, I think my worst-case scenario is that I spend three weeks on crutches and it still doesn’t work. So I guess I’m trying to delay that particular worst-case scenario, but then that’s kind of silly in its own way.

      I think if I can figure out a parking situation for work, I’m way more likely to do it. Me + crutches + public transit will be a disaster, though again, I’ll do it if I have to.

    • kimretta says:

      OK, you know, the more I think about this, the more I realize that my resistance isn’t how inconvenient it would be (though it would certainly be that) — it’s that then I’d be at my self-defined worst-case scenario (on crutches, minimally mobile, possibly not doing any physical activity), and I’m afraid that STILL won’t be a solution. Hm.

  5. Angela says:

    YOU CAN DO THIS!

    Seriously. I agree with your list of “things I can do,” but also, there really is nothing wrong with chilling out with books & wine (I mean, that’s how *I* roll, anyway) for a few weeks while something major heals. I have always been afraid that 3-4 weeks of no cardio would be disastrous, but it turns out it’s not THAT bad, and you recoup the fitness pretty quickly. I mean it’s obviously not preferable, but I don’t think you should beat yourself up if you’re like, “Screw this swimming business, I’m going to do some core & then read a good book.”

    HANG IN THERE!!!!

    • kimretta says:

      You’re totally right. I think part of what I’m running into is changing my mindset from “it’s just PF, it’ll heal on its own schedule if you just do these things” (e.g. the first two months) to “actually, this is something major and you should probably not even be walking” (e.g. the last three weeks). So it feels like this process of getting more and more taken away from me over something that was minor, where if someone had just said “Hey, how about a month of boot + crutches?” in July, it would have sucked but also it would be over by now. (Maybe.)

      The practical element that sucks is that if I stop going to masters, I lose access to that pool … hm, I should figure out what happens if I just take October off.

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