Tag Archives: tendonosis

Heeling / Healing

It’s no secret that my blarg is about as focused as a toddler with ADD. I write about what occurs to me, and while that’s usually writing, occasionally I stray into the muddier waters of product and television reviews, or sometimes into the less-muddy, more-poopy waters of parenting, and still other times into the not-so-muddy-at-all but rather likely totally uninteresting waters of my personal fitness.

I can’t help but wonder if my blog might garner more views if I chose a focus and stuck to it. Then again, I phrase a doubt like that and then the Ego-Writer chimes in and reminds me that on a personal and intellectual level, I don’t really give a sharknado about my views and follows and likes and all that other crap. So what if my drivel reaches ten people, or a hundred, or a thousand? (Spoiler alert: it hasn’t.) It’s all so many droplets in the ocean, so many swirling grains of silica in a desert sandstorm.

I don’t care about views really; I care about giving vent and voice to what’s on my mind, so LindaGHill’s stream-of-consciousness prompt for this weekend is timely. It’s heal/heel, which is funny, because this week I’ve been particularly concerned with the healing of my heel.

No, really. Back in the early days of this blarg, I tweaked something in my left heel, and since then I’ve had a long road of injuries culminating in a similar but entirely different and more treatment-resistant issue with my right heel. Maybe it was my Vibrams, maybe it was the fact that I pushed up too quickly after my injury, but my feet have been fargoed for a while, and I’ve had enough of it.

Now, when I’ve had enough of feeling unproductive on my book, I can force myself to sit down and work on it. When I’ve had enough of being behind at work, I can sit down and grade until my fingers curl up like burned spiders and get caught up. When I’m feeling too much like a sloth, I can haul my blubbery self out for a run or a workout. When I feel like I’ve had one too many chili dogs (okay, I don’t eat chili dogs, but feel free to insert slices of pizza or cheeseburgers or scoops of ice cream) I can starve myself the next day. I can fix most problems of excess by realizing the excess and shutting it down. Not so much this excess of pain.

I shouldn’t say excess, though. Since visiting the podiatrist back in October (I think) I’ve had varying levels of discomfort, but nothing that could really qualify as pain. I get tweaks and twinges and aches, but nothing that keeps me from walking around, nothing that keeps me from getting out for a run, nothing that I wouldn’t feel silly classifying as “pain.” That said, even on the best of days, I’m aware that all is not right with my heel; it’s always there, nagging at the edge of my consciousness like a burn on the roof of your mouth or that faint whiff of baby poop whenever I pass my hand in front of my face. (Seriously, I washed my hands MULTIPLE times, where is it COMING FROM??) It just won’t go away.

It’s so persistent, now — I’ve been dealing with some level of this ache in my foot for the past six months now — that I’m wondering if it’s not just something I have to live with. Like, I’m almost 35… well past the time when I could, for example, sprain the sharknado out of my ankle, then eat nothing but Cap’n Crunch and occasionally rub a piece of ice on the affected area and bounce back like the goldfingered rubber band man. I want to believe that I can shake this off, but I’m starting to wonder. I’ve been afflicted with this thing for quite a while… so long it’s just starting to feel normal, which frankly is not something I’m okay with.

I think it’s doubly frustrating because I’ve been redoubling my efforts at fitness in other areas and I’m making strides at a ridiculous rate. I’m pushing up my reps and my difficulties. I’m doing a ton of extra walking (my wife is partly to blame for that, since we compete now with our little step-tracking-gizmos. “Compete” is the wrong word. She stomps me in this “competition” every day). I’m losing weight again, faster than I have any right to. All of which is fantastic.

But I can’t shake this thing with my heel.

It’s troubling. Partly because I feel like my ability to run regularly and for long distances has kind of become part of my identity, even though I’ve only been doing it for three years. Partly because I feel like just about every challenge I set for myself lately, no matter how insurmountable it seems at first, feels like little more than a speedbump as I coast past it. I mean… in the past year alone, I decided to write a novel, and I finished a first draft in less than six months. I gave up sodas over the space of three or four weeks. But I can’t overcome this thing with my heel.

Tomorrow’s another long run. If form holds, the heel will feel shaky as hell for the first half mile, then loosen up and feel great for three or four or maybe five miles, then tighten up as I head into mile six and seven.

I really don’t know how to end this post. I usually like to end with some sort of turn toward optimism or at least some cheeky snide aside, but all I can muster on the issue is doubt. This issue is such a small issue in the scheme of things, but it’s still hanging over my head like a set of particularly heavy storm clouds after so many months.

Anyway… this post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

Baby Steps Don’t Fargo Up My Feet

I think there’s little as frustrating to somebody who’s been productive as the inability to produce at the level you know you’re capable of.

Okay, that’s vague as anything. Specifically, I’m talking about running. If you follow, you may know that this has been a year plagued with injury for me. First one foot, then the other; the soles, then the ankles, then the heels, until I start to wonder if I’m not so much doing damage to myself as my body has simply passed its sell-by date and is withering and falling apart like a bunch of rotted grapes.

But I’ve been to the doctor, and the doctor said to give running a try again, so run I did. And I’ve gone on two runs now, my first in a month (which honestly felt like an entire season, given all the crazies I was stirring during that month). And they’ve been okay. There’s tightness and there’s uncertainty, but no pain. Such an astounding lack of pain, in fact, that I’m having all the delusions of grandeur that accompany a return to form: “maybe it’s not so bad. I can do another mile!” or “this isn’t so bad. I can go faster!” And while I almost certainly could do those things, that would almost certainly be the most direct route back to injury.

So I am tempering the glee that comes with being able to run without crippling pain by forcing myself to take it slow, listen to my feet, and make sure that I don’t rush myself right back into the podiatrist’s office again.  But taking it slow is an agony. My body chemistry has changed over the last three years, to the point where the run satisfies something like hunger in my brain, and like an alcoholic feeling the pull of a perfectly mixed gin and tonic, I’ve got the scent of these last couple of runs in my bones. The chill bite of the fall air in my lungs, the regular tap of my feet on the pavement, the ebbing drone in my mind as my focus slips away and I embrace the calm.

My wife and I are signed up for a race in a week and a half, and I may actually be able to run at least a portion of it with her. We’ve signed up for another in January. I won’t be running my farthest distances or my fastest paces by any stretch, but I’m pretty confident that simply being out there will be enough. For now, it’s time to suck it up and accept that it’s not the time to run fast or far, and appreciate the fact that I can run at all.

What’s a Runner Who Doesn’t Run?

I’ve been to see the podiatrist for the second time this year.

It’s odd how much I’ve grown into the label of a runner over the last three years, but this year has been instructive. My non-running time has added up to be almost as much as my running-enabled time, and even when I have been able to run, it’s been in a severely diminished capacity from where I was last year at this time. That being said, my first trip to the podiatrist was encouraging. The doctor saw the inflammation on my x-ray, gave me a local treatment, a stretching regimen, an icing regimen, and seemed pretty confident that a) he’d identified the problem and b) would be able to solve it. And he was right — the tweakiness in my left foot is virtually gone, less some tightness in the morning.

My second visit has only been frustrating.

Nothing to show on the x-ray, which he says is a good thing, but it also means that the cause and source of the pain are harder to identify. He poked and prodded at my Achilles a bit and said that while he can definitely pinpoint the location of the injury, he can’t really tell what’s going on. Sometimes, he said, the Achilles can tear (if in the case of a violent and acute injury — like I stepped in a pothole and hyperextended the thing) or almost “fray” (from simple overuse… also, the idea of a tendon “fraying” is enough to send me scrabbling up the walls to throw up in my mouth). But he sees no sign of any of that sort of damage. No local treatment this time, since he can’t be sure what’s causing the pain. Just a renewal of some anti-inflammatory meds (which I’m almost convinced are just sugar tablets at this point), a heel insert for my shoe (to take some of the “pressure” off the tendon, with the added side benefit of making me feel positively geriatric), and an appointment to come back in three weeks to reassess.

I asked him if I need to think about giving up running for a while. I’m not sure if he heard the trepidation in my voice and didn’t want to crush me or if he’s genuine, but he said to just give it a week and then go out for a slow, short run… with the shoe insert. Which I’m sure is going to feel like I’m running in platform heels. So I’m going to try going for a run on Saturday, which will be my first in a month (minus the test run which I cut short less than a quarter-mile from my front door a week and a half ago). But I have to confess I’m not optimistic. Something in my gut is telling me that my feet need a hard reset; that I need to take a few solid months off to give the old peds time to shake off whatever’s ailing them, and spend the meantime tiptoeing around them and not stressing them out too badly (in much the same way my wife and I lightfoot it past the kids’ bedrooms when they’re falling into a tenuous sleep).

What am I going to do if I can’t run?

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