The Agony of the Feet

The Thinker by Rodin

I have foot problems. I wish it were something minor like a bunion. In some ways I wish it were something major because then at least I would know what was going on. But instead I just have some weird foot stuff going on that seems to never get better nor worse. As I work with my podiatrist it looks like there is no silver bullet. I need to resign myself to months or even years of treatment and discomfort. Ouch!

It’s a mild pain that is usually there. The original symptoms were a numb feeling in the smaller toes of my right foot that sometime felt like it was burning or my skin was scraped raw. Since it went on for a few weeks I finally saw the foot doctor. His hypothesis was that a nerve juncture between two of my toes was inflamed. He prescribed some Superfeet and built up a little spot that should have given the spot in question some relief. And for a couple days it sort of did. And then it didn’t and nothing had changed.

One day I was feeling reasonably okay so I decided to go for a little bike ride. Actually it was 37 miles. But I had done long bike rides before and it had been no big deal on the feet. This ride though was different. Although I don’t recall much pain at the time, for the next several days both of my feet hurt and felt inflamed. I wished I could go back to the numbing feeling again. I was alarmed that I was now getting the feeling in the other foot. The podiatrist suggested it might be all the force I was applying to my feet when I was biking. Terrific. One of the reasons I took up biking in the first place was because the stress from running was causing weird ankle and knee pains. Even getting on the elliptical machine in our basement hurt. What was I supposed to do for an aerobic exercise?

I’d suggest a wheelchair for myself but that wouldn’t solve the problem either. Because resting my feet on practically anything hurts. Even flexing my feet in certain directions and positions, even a little, hurts. I’ve tried mainlining ibuprofen and that didn’t even dull the pain. Certainly there must be some inflammation down there but this didn’t seem to be helping at all.

Certain shoes for some reason hurt more than others. I thought maybe my shoes were too narrow or too short. I do after all sport a pair of Size 13s. But no dice. All my shoes have plenty of wiggle room. Loosening the strings didn’t help. I recently bought a pair of sandals that feel modestly comfortable most of the time. Just looking at them there is no particular reason that I can tell why they would feel better than my other pairs of shoes. So I drag the sandals around with me. I wear my regular shoes to work then slip on my sandals once at work. I look pretty dorky wearing dress socks with my sandals. I guess it’s a good thing I don’t have to wear a suit and tie too.

I wonder if it has something to do the chairs I sit in. I’ve got three chairs in my office and I switch between them a lot because I am rarely comfortable for long in any of them. One accommodates my height well but offers poor back support. Another doesn’t allow me to rock backward, which is important if you are tall like me (6′ 2″) and have long legs. In fact with my long legs pretty much all the chairs out there are inadequate. I need more thigh support but the chairs usually leave a couple inches of my thighs unsupported. The computer equipment I use is not always comfortable to use either. When I started my job and designed my office I did have the office ergonomics expert adjust things to my liking. The problems with my chairs took a few weeks to manifest.

I wonder if it is arthritis that is at the root of my pain but I don’t think that’s it. I’ve had occasional twinges of arthritis in my fingers and it felt different than this. I feel like I need hobbit feet. Perhaps I need more calluses or something on my pads. I think: if my feet had support and the ground was made of rubber maybe it wouldn’t hurt.

A few years back I had a case of Plantar Fasciitis. This is a pain at the bottom of the foot that typically hurts first thing in the morning, or when you try to get out of bed and stand on your feet. There is no telling what caused that problem, although I suspect the extra weight I had at the time played a part. That problem, which took about six months to go away, may have been a consequence of just being 40-something. After all my wife had a similar problem. This pain feels a bit similar but is primarily along the side of my right foot. Applying even mild pressure to the right side of my foot makes it hurt. Standing up and putting weight on the right side of my foot makes it hurt too. Okay so logically shift the weight to the other side of the foot and the problem is solved, right? But that feels unnatural and it makes the bones near the problem spot hurt. So I’m guessing my foot doctor got the diagnosis wrong. It feels like a ligament or two have been stretched too far and are inflamed.

I hope this too will pass but as this has been going on for a couple months now I wonder if this will be some sort of long-term condition that I will just have to live with. It’s not an acute pain but it is annoying and it sometimes throbs. But I remain disturbed that there is no painkiller I can take to make it go away.

So I will continue to live with it and continue to consult with my podiatrist and hope he can find the root cause. But I suspect that this is one of many similar problems inherent in my aging body that I will have to reckon with in the years ahead. Mother Nature is giving me yet another signal that I am not immortal. I need to get with her religion.

Meanwhile, ouch!

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