It’s Summer; Time to Pull Out the Sneakers! What?!

feet-on-beachSo, it’s often said that “Summer is Sandal Season!”  Well, I got the great news that for me, this “Summer is Sneaker Season!” Yeah.  The day before I left for vacation, I had an urgent appointment to see a podiatrist.  I had been experiencing pain in my left heel, at times, so severe that I couldn’t put any weight on it. Obviously concerned, I was grateful to get a last minute office visit. After I heard the diagnosis and treatment plan, let’s just say, I was less than enthusiastic.

It’s hard when you live a life of “restrictions” to find out that there is but one more area of my life I now need to adjust to meet the “needs” of my chronic illness. When the weather warms, the first thing I anticipate is pulling out my beloved sandals and all the colorful nail polishes that come with the season! It’s truly one of my last indulgences.  There are so many modifications I have to make to my daily living, and showing off my sexy feet (the one area that doesn’t puff up with Prednisone weight!) is a luxury I just don’t feel like giving up!

I know I am acting like a toddler throwing a tantrum over imposed rules.  But, I don’t care!  I take so many things with a smile on my face, my chin held high, my thoughts focused on the positive rather than the negative.  I didn’t fight the podiatrist when he delivered the news that I had torn my posterior tibilial tendon and told I needed to immobilize my foot for 6 weeks or I was at risk of a ruptured tendon (all said with a wagging finger. Tsk. Tsk.).  He proceeded to tell me that the typical treatment would be a “boot” (those big, clunky walking casts that go from toe to knee).  Thankfully (?) he said my back would hate him for this (I have had two lower discectomies for ruptured discs) so it eliminated this option.  The only alternative is to wear solid, athletic sneakers at all times. So I tried, I really tried, to look at the positive; sneakers were a heck of a lot better than a boot, right?  But, at the same time, all I could hear was this mocking voice inside my head, “Well, won’t you look hot on the beach with your bathing suit and sneakers!”

I have been the “good patient” and tried to follow the treatment plan (which also includes daily exercises, massage and ice) to the best of my ability.  It’s been well over a week now and even on vacation, I wore my sneakers most of the time.  But I have always hated having my feet confined.  So when I need to “free my tootsies,” I don the prescribed orthopedic flip flops, a much more promising option. Alas, I was told they were only for getting out of bed; they would be my “next summer’s shoe” (more finger wagging. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.).

But, here’s the kicker.  My body does not like change!! Any change.  A change of footwear has been a huge trigger for a cascade of symptoms.  Following orders, I shove my feet into the only sneakers I own, heavy hiker sneaks, and my body rebels.  For me, the weight of just a couple extra pounds dragging me down is enough to trigger a flare. More parts of my feet than I knew existed hurt, my feet and ankles keep swelling into nondescript shapes, and it has thrown my whole lower body out of whack; knees, hips, back…

And the number one feature of my autoimmune disease, Polychondritis, is the attack of connective tissue.  Hazzah!  Tendons are connective tissue.  Just like this disease has marched its deadly forces through every inch of my body, it has now reached my feet!  Also, the tendon I injured is a whopper.  It runs from just under my heel, around the inside of my ankle, up to my Achilles.  And by tearing this, it has inflamed my plantar fasciitis (ligament) as well as my Achilles Tendon.  I certainly don’t want to risk rupturing any of those (I keep envisioning athletes suddenly crumpling to the ground. Ugh.). This one tiny, torn tendon has caused a ripple effect, inflaming all the tendons and ligaments in my feet.

Today I am struggling mostly with finding a happy medium.   A way to heal my heel (hardy-har. har.) while also soothing the rest of my joints and tissue.  Right now, I am in way worse pain than when I walked into the doctor’s office.  And that’s not a good solution for any of the things that ail me.

But, just being able to “say” these feelings out loud is a relief.  I have to trust that the rest will come with time and patience.

In and of itself, I realize that communicating my disappointments, my worries, my fears, is healing therapy.  Because holding all that in behind the mask of a smile only adds stress to an already stressful situation.  What are you holding in today that could be shared? Whatever trials you are facing, free yourself from the cage of stoicism.   I guarantee you will find relief in the comfort of shared pain… we don’t have to face life’s ups and downs alone! 

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