My day started with a trip to see Dr. Ray, about my plantar fascitis. I met Dr. Ray at a racewalking clinic a couple of years ago, and he seemed like a real foot geek. The kind of guy who is just intrigued by this amazing human part, who wants to absorb facts about it and study it and poke it and see what happens if. In other words, exactly the kind of guy I want giving me foot advice. Today was my first visit as his patient, although the plantar fascitis started back in July.
Plantar fascitis is all about an injured foot part called the plantar fascia, that runs along the bottom of your foot from the heel to the base of the toes. Many people experience it as heel pain, but, never one to follow the pack, mine’s been all about pain at the ball of my foot. There’s really only been two cool aspects to this injury: one, I learned what sesamoids are, and that I have them (so do you); and two, I was radioactive for about a week, after I was injected with radioactive isotope for a bone scan to be sure I didn’t have a fracture. The rest has been some combination of sticking my foot into ice water, stretching, picking up a towel with my toes, tylenol, athletic tape, rolling my foot on a hard leather ball, trying one arch support after the other, and a really exhausting series of attempts to get some sleep while wearing a boot designed to keep my foot at a 90 degree angle. (Its not possible to sleep with the boot. My inspirational thought about getting a wig and calling myself Bride of Frankenstein is really the only fun aspect of the boot. I admit to uttering many unfriendly things to the boot in the middle of the night. The boot seemed unfazed.) I go for treatments two or three times a week, where they do something called Graston. The idea of Graston is to break down the scar tissue that has formed from the injury. This is done by digging into the bottom of my foot with a hard tool. The first time I had this done, I spent the whole time digging into the sides of the table with my hands, saying over and over in my head “Don’t kick the doctor. Don’t kick the doctor…” (I told this to the doctor afterwards, and he laughed and said he had plenty of practice dodging kicks so I shouldn’t worry.) It only lasts a few minutes, and over time its gotten alot less painful. They also zap me with electric current. This is either to stimulate the tissue to speed healing, or to enhance the previously mentioned Bride of Frankenstein effect, depending on whether you believe the doctor or me.
I arrived at Dr. Ray’s office with a giant gym bag full of shoes. My workout shoes, my previous workout shoes, my alternative workout shoes, several pairs of everyday shoes, and four or five different arch support inserts. His assistant carefully laid these out, taking out all of the innersoles and arch supports. After checking my foot, he handed my workout shoes to his assistant, who replaced the arch support with a metatarsal pad and changed the laces so they start halfway down from the toe instead of at the first set of holes near the toe. The metatarsal pad goes just further toward the heel than the ball of the foot. The effect is to spread out the toes. I tried them on, and was surprised at how comfortable they now felt. Months of trying all kinds of shoes and innersoles and arches and socks, and this incredible genius foot geek guy solves the problem in about 3 minutes.
I was really looking forward to my workout, to try out the new shoe solution. As often happens, I was delayed at work, then delayed in traffic because I’d left late. I then found myself at home with an awful decision: go for my training walk, or stay home for the trick-or-treaters? I took a deep breath and squared my shoulders: those kids would never know what great candy I’d bought. Besides, I’d still be back in time for some of them. I started out and the shoes felt great. My feet felt better than they had for awhile. My walking felt smoother. On the bike path I relaxed into the walk, enjoying the darkening sky and the surrounding trees. After a bit, I realized the bikes all had lights on, so I could still see them even though it was … oops! It was dark. There I was, in the middle of the bike path in the dark, alone and only mildly reflective. Well, in spite of a couple of near misses, I didn’t actually get run over. One guy said “Sh*t!” as he rode by, but I couldn’t tell if that was because of me, or because he’d just realized *he* was late for trick-or-treaters. It was hard to stay too worried about the whole dark thing, because there was a decent chunk of moon, and it was reflecting in the nature preserve pond. A bit further on, a goose sounded like it was just laughing and laughing.
Well, I wouldn’t call the end of my walk a “cool down,” and I only got in one quick calf stretch as I was opening bags of candy, but I did get to greet dozens of trick-or-treaters, decked out as Fiona (as in Shrek). Then I got hit with the “trick”: me at home with a huge tub of leftover candy. I can’t say I didn’t yield to temptation. I guess the best I can do is a nice long workout tomorrow.