zen.org Communal Weblog

April 22, 2005

Oh yeah? Well, you walk funny!

Filed under: — brendan @ 14:22 IST

Travel back: Nearly 3 years ago, I had to go to the doctor because my left foot had a piercing pain when I walked. It felt as if a nail was being driven through it. Doctor#1 looked at it, and sent me in to get my foot X-rayed. If she didn’t call me back, she said, it means it’s nothing serious and should heal itself. Got the x-ray, no call, pain wore off over about a two-week period. Fine, it wasn’t the shoes I was wearing I guess.

Jump to today: for about the last 2-3 weeks, I’ve had the same problem, only this time in my right foot. I’m doing some contract work up in Dublin, and like walking from the Tara Street DART station over to the office. It’s a lovely walk using the boardwalk that runs over the River Liffey in parallel with the road. In the picture found at the link in the previous sentence, this is the exact route I’d take—up ahead you can see the O’Connell Bridge, which I’d take to go over the river. When this pain started up again after such a long hibernation, that walk became impossible. I stayed on the DART past Tara to its next stop, Connolly Station. You can connect to the Luas light-rail system, which does the rest of the distance over to the building where I’m working. After a couple of weeks of this, I got tired of waiting for the pain to go away.

I went in to see Doctor#2 this morning. I described the pain, and mentioned I’d had an x-ray a few years ago for the same exact thing. He brought up an image of a sheet of paper that had been scanned into the system. It said in 2002 I had a partial fracture in the second metatarsal bone in my left foot. (Among the many surprises with this letter was learning it was my left foot last time—my memory, flawed as it can be, kept telling me it was my right foot both times.) The biggest surprise, of course, was how it had been a partial fracture. I never got a call back last time! Doesn’t that sound like something you might be interested in knowing, even if it will eventually heal itself?

He prescribed me some anti-inflammatory meds and also a request for a couple of x-rays, which I had done at the local hospital this afternoon. He’ll get them by Tuesday, which is when he said I should call him (2 days after the x-rays are taken) to find out the result. If it was the same problem as before, he believes the actual cause is in how I walk. This is the same pain in the same exact location, only on the other foot. That apparently makes it good a candidate for being a metatarsal stress fracture. It’s sometimes called a marching fracture, in tribute to the many soldiers who have grimaced looking down at the pulsing pain inside their dirt-coated boot after marching for twelve hours straight, day after day.

He said we may need to look at using orthotics to help program my brain to walk a little differently. A slightly different step and change in where my weight presses down on my foot can help avoid this pain being a regular event.

I wonder if I’d have this problem if we chose to stay in California? Probably, but maybe not quite as quickly. Ireland is a very mobile place, where taking long walks is pure recreation. I’d not want to change that for a second.

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