Let me preface this by saying, I DO NOT want to write this. I have done my very best to avoid my blog, pretend it doesn't exist, pretend things aren't happening. But I woke up this morning to a blog comment that made me realize that I do want to get this off my chest. So here we go. About a month ago I noticed a stabbing pain in my foot, just underneath my subtalar joint. My immediate reaction, was "Oh please no!" but I managed to calm myself. And by calm myself, I mean that I pushed myself so far into denial that it took me weeks to get out of it. I couldn't walk those first two days. The pain woke me up out of a sound sleep. I was miserable. I immediately suspended my gym privileges. I was struggling enough just to get through the mandatory parts of my day. Along with the stabbing pain, the limping I was forced to do aggravated every single tendon below my knee. It felt like they were on fire. I did what I've learned to do- ice, anti-inflammatories and rest. But still, the pain persisted. After 4 weeks, I emailed Dr. McGorgeous and ran this all past him. He suspected a stress fracture in my foot and ordered x-rays, sight unseen. The x-rays were negative, which is common, so he wants to see me in a week. My foot is most definitely feeling better, but it has feeling better because I'm not doing anything. I tried something at the gym to see if I could get it to hurt, and I can. I've got a lot of anxiety because it's difficult to tell the difference between the tendon pain in my foot and this stabbing pain. Sometimes it feels unstable, which horrifies me to the point where I almost can't breathe. You can see why denial was a good place for me. It's going to be a long week of waiting.
I'm getting stronger. Like, a lot stronger. I've been going to the gym 1-2 times per week since I posted last. My poor right knee, which has taken on the brunt of the work since my left ankle got hurt, is feeling so much better. I'm feeling so much better.
I'm still having nerve pain though. And in some unholy turn of events, the nerve pain comes on with my other PMS symptoms and lasts til the first day of my period. I don't know how this is all going to play out. But I do know that I'm having 25 good days a month and 5-6 bad ones. It's manageable. I'd like it to get better, and if there is any possible way for me to fight to get it better, I will.
I don't see Dr. McGorgeous again til June. I'm hoping to see some nerve pain improvement by then and I'd really like to avoid going to pain management.
I'm finding myself to be really emotional lately. I think the last 3+ years are starting to sink in and now that I'm not in a haze of pain I'm starting to understand just how bad things have been. I cry at song lyrics sometimes. I cry because I'm so grateful and so in awe that I'm now able to give you good updates. I can walk to my mailbox again. I can take out the garbage and go grocery shopping and get to work and school. I feel less like a burden to my friends and family. I can't believe my ankle isn't fused. I can't believe I found a doctor that cares as much as mine does. I can't believe he's fought as long and as hard on my behalf as he has. I don't know what I did to deserve a doctor like that. I'm getting less scared each day. Less scared of the surgery failing and less scared of hurting myself again. And I'm getting more powerful. It's hard for me to explain, but I think back to a year ago when I was visiting Indianapolis and just finding out that I had a genetic disorder and that I would need to donate my own bone graft. And that I would need my tibia sawed in half to place the graft. It was the feeling of "get knocked down 7 times, stand up 8." And there's power in that. Knowing that what you think are your limits aren't really your limits. "I can't do this" or "I can't go through this again" mean NOTHING. You can. You will. You will fight because you don't have any other choice. And even when you fail, and fail and your body fails you again, you get to be proud because you FOUGHT. I'm glad I have that.
I know, I know. Let me start at the beginning, with my steroid injection last month. I was sitting on the table, surrounded by the supplies, pretending not to be nervous (needles, man! In my JOINT!) when Dr. McGorgeous walked in. And asked why I hadn't just given myself the injection. He then noticed that no one left a needle on a tray and commented "Smart nurse". Okay, so apparently I have a bit of a reputation in his practice. I guess other people don't take their own sutures out and ask for videotapes of their surgeries. I don't understand why not. So, because Dr. McGorgeous is literally the best doctor in the entire world, he starts to numb my ankle with some freezing spray. And then this exchange occured:
Dr: Acckk! Ow! I got some on my knee! This is really cold!! Me: I'm sorry this is so uncomfortable for you Dr.: I AM uncomfortable!!!! Okay, I'm putting the needle in now
So I got some steroids. And he left for five minutes. No sooner did he walk out the door than this WAVE of heat courses through my entire body. It was like being electrified with heat. He comes back as my hot flash is ending, but I'm still holding my hair up off my neck and fanning the sweat off my face. I asked him if this happens to normal people or just me, and he said it was actually pretty common. +1 point for being common! Woot! So then he lets me know that it will hurt a lot tonight, and for the next couple days. And to call his office and let him know how I'm doing in 48 hours. So I wait for the pain and there is nothing. It's as if nothing ever happened. Since I was numb, maybe he didn't even inject me! He just pretended!
Three weeks later I head in for my follow-up and tell him and the resident that the steroid injection never happened. Or at least that's what it felt like. They said this is a good diagnostic clue. Because the steroid never hurt and never helped, not even a little, this pain isn't related to the joint, the bone, or the ligaments. Which led him to diagnose the pain as nerve pain. OMFG, WTF, JFC. So I have nerve pain on both sides of my ankle. Why am I so nerve-y? I don't know- I'm going to ask at my next appointment, which is in.............JULY!!!
Even though I still have nerve pain, it is getting better and manageable. Dr. McGorgeous is hopeful that since I'm only 8 months out from surgery that I still have a whole bunch of healing left to do and the nerve pain will keep getting better. So we are waiting for 5 entire months before I have another followup. You guys. This is big.
And even bigger are the parts of my life that have been coming back. I have a gym membership again. I only go once a week to do some strength training. I've lost so much muscle in the last 3 years. I'm not trying to be a hero, just trying to be safe and cautious and do my best. My every day normal life is getting better- I don't dread taking the garbage out or checking the mail or grocery shopping like I used to. I have quite a few days during the week when I'm on my feet for 15 hours. I'd say 80% of the time I get home and DON'T have that rock hard swelling I've been so used to. I'm becoming more optimistic the more time passes, but I am also very, very realistic about this. I'm only 8 months in to an 18 month recovery. There's still so much time for things to go wrong, and things have always gone wrong for me. I'm not celebrating my "recovery" just yet. But I am celebrating each milestone I reach that I thought was gone for good.
I still need to tell you guys about the steroid injection. We'll get to it. But I wanted to share something else I found today. Anyone who knows me has heard me say that hurting my ankle is the best worst thing that's ever happened to me. It's given me so many opportunities and so many ways to grow. And that if I had this to do all over again, I'd do it. I wouldn't like it.....I didn't like it the first time around.....but I'd do it.
This is from Glennon Melton, entitled "Don't Carpe Diem"
"I think parenting young children (and old ones, I've heard) lets replace this with fixing an ankle is a little like climbing Mount Everest. Brave, adventurous souls try it because they've heard there's magic in the climb. They try because they believe that finishing, or even attempting the climb are impressive accomplishments. They try because during the climb, if they allow themselves to pause and lift their eyes and minds from the pain and drudgery, the views are breathtaking. They try because even though it hurts and it's hard, there are moments that make it worth the hard. These moments are so intense and unique that many people who reach the top start planning, almost immediately, to climb again. Even though any climber will tell you that most of the climb is treacherous, exhausting, killer. That they literally cried most of the way up."
Today is three years. Three years since I walked out of the gym and into my new life. I swore when this started that I wouldn't let my injury define me. But looking back three years later, it has defined me. This has been a turning point in my life for so many things. I'm grateful that I've been able to learn so much about myself and how strong I can be when I need to. But I still wonder what it would have been like if I hadn't had to go through this.
I'll have an update soon about the steroid injection and how I'm feeling physically. But today I just want to sit and think about how I got where I am today.
The phone rang at 8:40am and it was the doctor's office. Calling me back with my x-ray results. And I missed the effing call. I grabbed the phone on the last ring, but it was too late. I called back immediately, but the nurse was already away from her desk and after waiting for her to call me til 2:30 I thought I was going to explode from anxiety so I called back again.
The x-rays are negative for bone spurs. But Dr. McGorgeous gets me, and I think he knows when I say "it feels like bone spurs" what I mean is, "I feel irritation inside the joint". In the past, my irritation in the joint HAS been caused by bone spurs, but that's not what's happening this time. It's probably some scar tissue in there that's causing me pain, so instead of a surgery to remove bone spurs, I am getting a steroid injection.
That's such a huge relief. I tried on Friday to imagine what I would do if I needed an 8th trip to the operating room. And I can't. I just can't. So here's hoping the steroids work, and that there's nothing more serious going on.