Skip to main content

Life in the Boot, and After

It sucked--I'm not gonna lie. I wore my "cam walker" boot for about three and a half weeks, minus a couple of weekends. That doesn't sound like a very long time, but it felt like ages. Getting dressed each day was a new and interesting challenge. I couldn't wear just anything; many of my usual clothing items didn't fit well with the boot, so I often opted for leggings (that part I loved). Also, I had to wear a running shoe on my other foot to approximate the sole height of the boot on the other foot so I wasn't lopsided. This never made for a cute look. I even purchased a custom-made decorative fabric to go on the boot to make it less clinical-looking. But when said fabric arrived, it seemed to make the visibility of the boot nearly triple. (I never actually wore it this way in public.)

Cute, no? No.

I don't see anything diff--oh, there it is.

Also, I wasn't entirely sure the boot was helping my foot get better. I originally got it on the advice of my doctor, who said it would help in the meantime while we waited to get an MRI to determine my actual injury. We thought I might have a metatarsal stress fracture, in which case the boot would definitely be helpful, but it took some time to (1) get insurance approval for the MRI, (2) schedule the MRI, and (3) get the doctor to review the MRI and call me with results. After a couple weeks of wearing the boot (which took time to procure in itself), I got my MRI results: bursitis at the head of my third metatarsal--and a bonus diagnosis of arthritis at the base of my first toe. I could've done without the arthritis diagnosis; that area wasn't bothering me, and there's nothing really to fix arthritis. 

Bursitis, I've learned through Internet research and not from my doctor, is inflammation of the bursa, which is a fluid-filled sac that prevents bones from rubbing against other bones/muscles/tendons. We have bursae all throughout the body (shoulders, hips, ankles, knees, elbows--all the joint areas). Metatarsal bursitis, also called metatarsalgia, is a common overuse injury, especially for athletes of high-impact sports. (By the way, if you're at all squeamish, don't do a Google image search for bursitis. Take my word on that. I even tried to tell the Internet to only look for "normal metatarsal bursae," and those results only gave me comparisons to abnormal, extremely swollen, or surgically removed bursae.) This is the best, unoffensive picture I could find of where the bursae are in the foot, and it's not very specific (as they are actually individual sacs between the bones and muscles, and not one large fluid sac encapsulating all the bone heads, as this picture implies):

My inflammation is in the green area below that third toe.

This is a general depiction of bursitis, on an nondescript body part.

So what does this all mean? Well, like any "itis," or inflammatory condition, there are degrees of inflammation, and the prognosis depends on response to treatment. And treatment consists of (1) not doing the activity that caused the inflammation--check, (2) RICEing--check, and (3) taking anti-inflammatory medications, or herbs and food, as I prefer--check. I haven't run since February 13. And even prior to that, I'd only run once or twice a week, low mileage and low effort, since the Clearwater Marathon on January 19. So I'm getting antsy. I've also gone through athlete's depression, which is a term I'm making up for the sake of distinguishing it from other, more serious forms of depression. I would go to races to support Tim and see friends, but these were all races that I was supposed to be running, too: Best Damn Race (x2), Gasparilla, Bolt Run. All of them great local races. It became too hard to go to these races and put on a happy face, and I wasn't all that supportive in the end, which didn't serve anyone. 

In response to my feelings of frustration, I stopped wearing my boot. That may sound illogical, some may say stupid, but it has already made me feel better. And, oddly, my foot is feeling slightly better. I'm still wearing supportive shoes, and I've learned throughout this process that the feet actually have three arches--internal longitudinal (the "main" one), external longitudinal (parallel to internal longitudinal), and the transverse arch--right where the metatarsals are.

McDonald's has nothing on the human foot.

So I am trying to make sure that my footwear has all of this arch(es) support, and if not, I'm wearing foot inserts, or orthotics, but not like the heavy-duty kind. If it comes to that, though, I will. 

That's the end of my foot anatomy lesson for now. I may try a little jog later this week. If so, I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.


B.o.B. said…
You're doing great and being super thorough with your recovery. I think you'll be past this soon. All of the "itises" just take some time to heal. I can always meet you for a spin class at Soho if you have any interest. :) Maybe we'll make you a triathlete yet!
Lee Davidson said…
Thanks for the affirmation :) I needed it, clearly. So I tried to take my bike out Sunday to ride "long," but it was dragging and didn't want to cooperate. Realized I needed to suck it up and take it in for tune-up (it's been sitting, unridden, in not-so-ideal conditions for a year). Also, I didn't feel like cleaning it (which makes me think I'm not going to be a good bike person). But thanks to you, I do now remember how to work the gears!
shirley said…
I wondered how things were going with you. I was fairly sure you were chomping at the bit, so to speak. I know it had to be difficult watching everyone else run but you hung in there and took care of yourself. I'm proud of you. You'll be on the move pretty soon, I'm sure.

People Liked to Read...

Surgery Chronicles: Hard Feelings

I'm one and a half weeks out from my second foot surgery, and, by all important measures, I'm doing well. But boy has the past week been difficult. In the first few days post-surgery I was in a pretty good mood; the surgery had gone well, I was in the excellent care of my mom, and I had made it past the last major hurdle of this months-long event. All I had to look forward to was recovery and progress and gradually returning to my normal life, whatever that might look like.

But even though I've gone through this process once already, it's still just as difficult this time around. There's the constant worrying about this weird feeling or that new pain, the accidental step in the middle of the night when I forgot which foot was injured, and the agonizing wait time between appointments. Now it's compounded by concern over whether I'm taking good enough care of my first foot. Did I ruin the surgery when I stubbed my toe falling off an exercise ball? Am I using …

Surgery Chronicles: I Exhale

I've really been holding my breath with this recovery, more so than the last one for some reason. After getting past the three-week point (which was two weeks ago, when I started to write this), I felt a little more at ease. Since then I've been changing my own dressing daily and slowly weaning off of crutches so I can now walk around in the boot—hands-free! I'm still a slave to icing and elevating as much as possible throughout the day. But the very best part? There's no other foot left to do. After this, I'm done, done, done. I can start to return to a life not defined by sitting and waiting and feeling confined and limited and trying my hardest to heal but having little actual control over any of it.

I wrote in my last post about the difficult emotions I'd been having throughout this second surgery recovery. I think I underestimated the psychological toll I would take doing one foot right after the other. And while there was a feeling of elation after gettin…

Surgery Chronicles: 12 Weeks and Progress

I'm now more than 12 weeks recovered from my second (and final!) foot surgery, and life is starting to feel a little more normal. When I last wrote an update, seven weeks ago (still blaming Irma for all of my delays), I had just gotten off of crutches but would wear my boot for two more weeks. I've been out of the boot and walking in shoes for just over five weeks. The constant discomfort I've felt in my foot from swelling is finally starting to wane. I work in the office now, I do my own groceries, and I even attended a work conference recently, which meant lots of walking at airports and the conference hotel, frequent standing, and few opportunities to elevate and ice. I was very concerned about how my feet, particularly the left one, would endure. And while it wasn't comfortable, I made it through, no worse for the wear in the end.

I joined a new gym/community center recently, with a new and beautiful outdoor pool, and I'm so happy that I'm able to use it n…