Saturday, October 15, 2011

Past Deadline: Epic Appendage Malfunction

I am getting a crash course about ankles because one of my ankles has, well, crashed.

Sometime in early August I began to notice pain in my right ankle. I couldn’t pinpoint it to a particular incident, and I wasn’t too concerned because I have always had what I affectionately call “wonky ankles.”

I used to go over on them a lot as a kid. One time, in the early days of courtship, an ankle buckled as I walked across a downtown street with Groom-boy. So graceful. “What are you doing?” he laughed. (Not: “Are you okay?”)

Throughout August the pain got worse. Ice, heat and ibuprofen didn’t help. I couldn’t walk without pain and certainly couldn’t run. Even at rest it twinged and ached and burned and it sometimes felt as if someone was tightening a vice around my lower calf. It even hurt to the touch.

While on vacation I spent some time consulting Dr. Google. My symptoms did not sound like a sprain, but more like a tendon problem. So I followed the RICE advice: Rest, Ice, Compression (tensor) and Elevate.

It still felt awful, so as soon as we got home I finally (stubborn, much?) made a doctor’s appointment.

“Get ye to a physiotherapist!” he said. Okay, he didn’t say it exactly like that, but physio was one of several courses of action he initiated.

The physiotherapist, meanwhile, took one look at my appendages and said, “You have been RUNNING on those feet?”

She set to work on my poor bedraggled right ankle to reduce the swelling and inflammation, and she took some measurements that, in layman’s terms, indicated my left foot is wonky and my right foot is almost twice as bad.

The working theory at this point is that my right ankle is afflicted with posterior tibialis tendonitis (fancy, eh?) and the long arch is collapsing onto the tendon. The tendon is angry and it is annoying the ligaments, too.

Sounds painful.

This has all been brought on by a “severe biomechanical failure” in my feet, which is fancy talk for the aforementioned “wonky ankles.”

Thing is, other than the occasional awkward moment on downtown streets, I have never really had any trouble with them.

It was, apparently, only a matter of time, which is one more reason why turning 40 has been So Much Fun.

A couple of years ago when I became interested in running, right off the bat I got a good pair of shoes. As I walked across the floor at the shop to have my gait assessed, I was asked, “Has anyone ever talked to you about orthotics?”

No one had, until that day. Perhaps I should have taken that as a hint, but when I put on those wonderful silver and red shoes – my “Rocket Shoes” (I name most inanimate objects) – it felt as if I were walking on clouds, so I didn’t really give it much thought after that. (Thank you, Mary!)

I’m sorry, ankles. I am a moron.

My physiotherapist (who still can’t believe I ever ran) tells me I probably would have been there two years sooner if it weren’t for those shoes.

I am afraid to ask her if I will ever run again.

It turns out my Google research wasn’t far off. I was on the right track with RICE, but needed to turn up the volume, especially with the ice. Now that I know this, it seems to be helping.

The swelling has gone down a bit, so now if I look at my feet in a mirror I can actually see how my right ankle sags. It looks depressed.

It definitely hates me.

I’m hoping orthotics will work like flowers and candy so that we can be friends again.

In the meantime, I am trying to find ways to stay off my feet without becoming sedentary.

For starters, I have pumped up my bicycle’s tires so that I can get around without actually, you know, walking.

I am not an avid cyclist, so I feel awkward. Whenever I ride my bike the “Miss Gulch” theme from The Wizard of Oz runs through my head. Does that make me a witch?

My ankles probably think so, my pretties.

Published in The Perth Courier, Sept. 22/11

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