No, not a Star Wars joke. I know enough about Star Wars from my SW-obsessed child to know this is the name of a movie, and apparently, on looking it up, it’s the first movie that came out, and I’ve actually seen it, even though uuuugh not a SW fan. Anyway, I mean a REAL new hope, one for me, one related to my foot, which I lamented about in last week’s WW post.
I was talking to a friend on Instagram, and she said that though she had some arthritis in her foot, she was lucky that it had never bothered her too much. That made me think a little more critically about the various things my ortho dr said. So I have arthritis in the top nubbin of my heel bone. That really shouldn’t come as a surprise, as that bone – in the spot that used to be broken – has continually had a dull ache whenever I do too much exercise, or if my feet are a bit misused (like when I skid/slide on trails, catching myself from falling but wrenching my foot in the process). I realized – that is the arthritis. And while yes, sometimes I have to take a day or two off my foot til the ache dies down, it has never prevented me from hiking, running, walking, etc.
Then there’s the swelling. I asked the ortho why arthritis in my heel would cause the weird, localized triangle of swelling and pain on the top of my foot. He said it was possible that the cyst on/in the bone had weakened and leaked. But…um…maybe I’m misunderstanding, but all that swelling can’t be from a leaky cyst, because a cyst causing that much fluid would be visible as a bump on my foot, and it isn’t (and never has been). I’m not sure what else he might be saying, as it didn’t make much sense, and it was only his best guess anyway. He basically told me that he didn’t know and couldn’t explain it. That got me thinking about the timing of things.
- September 30 – ran a 5K without any problems
- October 17 – slipped while on a long, arduous hike, hurting my foot (my best guess of where this all began)
- October 24 – first instance of major foot pain after an uneventful walk
- October 25 – wrote in my journal that my foot was swelling on the top and felt like it had stress fractures all over the area
- October 29 – attempted to run a 5K but my gait was off because my left foot was injured and aggravated; even walking felt weird and uncoordinated
- (between October and March – no letting up on the foot, continuing to hike/walk regularly and run periodically)
- March 15 – saw my primary care dr, who determined the source of the pain was in the 4th metatarsal; she suspected a fracture and referred me to ortho
- March 18 – hiked up (steep) Enchanted Rock on ouchy foot (Bad Manda!)
- ***After March 18, I stopped doing all harder hikes, any running, and cut back on all walking/hiking generally.
- March 25 – initial ortho appointment; swelling down to just in the evenings so only visible in photos; MRI ordered
- April 14 – double foot MRI; I couldn’t pinpoint the painful spot any longer like I could on March 15 and had to guess for the imaging
- April 27 – ortho follow-up; no pain remaining in the top of the foot, swelling now happening some days but not others
If you skipped through all this, here is the point: From October when my foot began to act stupid to mid-March when I went to Enchanted Rock, I didn’t rest my foot at all. I didn’t stop running, I didn’t cut back on my miles, I didn’t refrain from harder hikes. However, after Enchanted Rock, I began to do all those things. Several times, I took long five-to-six-day stretches with no exercise at all. Between when my primary doc found the painful spot on the fourth metatarsal and my follow-up with the ortho six weeks later, I was no longer having pain and the swelling was intermittent. What does that sound like? IMPROVEMENT. Possibly HEALING.
I think it’s likely that I did have a stress fracture, and the swelling was an attempt to stabilize it, and the long-term rest has kinda helped. Maybe if I take some time off completely, it’ll heal the rest of the way. Or if it’s something else, something they didn’t find, maybe some time off would also do it some good.
So I’ve made the decision. I have several pre-planned events coming up this weekend and the next. After May 15, though, I have nothing exercise-related on the calendar until June 12. That’s four whole weeks that I can take to rest. Rest, stretch, focus on other exercise, focus on dealing with my personal issues that always crop up in May, focus on getting a grip on my iced coffee addiction (ha!), avoid the outdoor heat, etc. Stay off this foot for a month, see if it continues to swell, and then move forward with whatever results. Maybe it’ll go back to that periodic dull ache in the bone that’s the arthritis, and I can handle that. And maybe it won’t – maybe I’m just out of luck as I mentioned in last week’s post. But it’s worth a try. Staying off of it for an entire month is one thing I haven’t tried, and maybe it’s the one thing that’ll save me. Because we all know that pushing myself despite the pain has not exactly been good for me, now or in the past. You’d think I’d learn that by now, no? Heh.