Many of you who have been with me from the beginning of this journey may remember that the first year I walked, I struggled with Plantar Fascitis in my left foot during training. Luckily, over the counter orthotics and lots of physical therapy, got me to where I completed 51 miles that year. In year 2 and year 3, I was thankfully not plagued by any feet issues, but here I am in year four and my right foot has decided that it wanted to get in on the giving-me-trouble game.
A few months ago, I started having pain in the ball of my right foot when I would walk distances. It pretty consistently wouldn't start hurting until I hit about a mile. As many of us are prone to do, I ignored it at first as it really wasn't that painful and I could walk through it. I found that I experienced some numbness when I would keep going and it didn't seem to get better, so I took a break from training, hoping that whatever it was would clear up with rest. I so wish I'd gone to the doctor then, as by now I might be ready to take on this walk.
But that's the past and I am where I am. I saw my regular doctor on my birthday earlier this month and she sent me to physical therapy and got a referral started to see a podiatrist as she was not sure what was going on with it. They physical therapy has been good, and I finally got in to the podiatrist today. His news, while not earth shattering, was not quite what I'd hoped.
So here's the rundown on what the issue is as best I understand it. I do not have any knowledge of anatomy, so forgive me if a detail isn't quite right. My second toe (in technical terms, the "stayed home" piggy) is longer than my first toe (the "went to market" piggy). This is just genetic and normal for some people. As a result, when I walk, more pressure is put on the ball of my foot at the second, third and fourth toes, than the first or fifth. Callouses on the ball of my foot bear this out. This hasn't been a problem most of my life, but apparently something happened this year and if I have it right, the ligament on that second toe in the ball of my foot has gotten stretched out and is not providing the support it used to in that joint. The second toe has curled up a little as a result (mild hammertoe?) and I'm having ball of foot pain. The occasional numbness indicates that at times pressure is being put on one of the nerves there as well and so I also have a mild nueroma or swelling/irritation/pinching of the nerve.
So here's what the doctor said. He likes that I'm doing physical therapy and wants me to continue that, and he likes my shoes, and that I've been wearing superfeet (over the counter orthotics). However, he thinks that what I need is a custom orthotic that will take some of the pressure off that second toe and help redistribute it to the first toe. This requires insurance authorization, which takes time, and then the orthotic needs to be made, which takes time. In the meantime he has me taping that second toe so that it lies down flat instead of being curled up and he thinks about 6 weeks of that may help improve things as well. The tape is in the shape of a ribbon.
|My longer "stayed home" piggy|
|Ribbon shaped toe taping to keep it from curling|
What does all of this mean for my walk? We are only 7 weeks from the San Diego 3-Day at this point. The podiatrist is not that hopeful that I'll be able to do much during the walk, although he said the taping and physical therapy may help me get more than that mile in. Even if the orthotics get authorized and made quickly, it takes time to get used to them and time for them to help with things. So worst case is that I do a few miles each day and then sweep and bus the rest of the walk. Best case is that the taping and physical therapy help so much that I'm able to do more, but probably under no scenario is anywhere near all 60 miles going to happen this year.
My thoughts and emotions are all over the place right now. I have contemplated trying to get a knee scooter (kind of a cool, but far more expensive alternative to crutches) to allow me to go more of the distance, but having never used one, I'm not sure how doable that would be. I'm researching that right now. My biggest disappointment in all of this is not getting to spend as much time over the course of the walk with my teammate, who is coming in from North Carolina to walk with me this year!
So my lesson is still about being able to accept the situation as it is and work with what I have. Acceptance is key. I'm sure those of you reading this are far more likely to support whatever I need to do to keep myself healthy than I am. I need to spend some time working on that, but at the same time I'm going to work hard on physical therapy and do what I can to give me the best possible chance of doing more without putting myself in danger of injuring further an already irritated foot. I'm going to the walk, even if I can't do much. I may contact the coaches and see what my options are from their point of view.
So please send healing and acceptance my way. I'll keep you posted on how all my piggies are doing.