Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Boots and Spurs

Nope, this isn't a cowboy blog. It's about my foot. If you've hung around the Playground for a while, you'll remember I had foot surgery in February 2008. And you'll be glad to know the surgery was a success.

However, last December I began experiencing heel pain. I figured I'd bruised it since I have a habit of going barefoot around the house. After a month, though, I went back to the doctor who did my surgery and he diagnosed me with plantar fasciitis. I have a small bone spur in my heel, but according to the doctor, it's not large enough to be causing the level of pain I've experienced. You can see from the diagram that the plantar fascia is a band of connective tissue running from the heel to the ball of the foot and supporting the arch. Sometimes that band gets a tear or rupture, becomes inflamed and causes pain. It's common among athletes and also can be caused by improperly fitting footwear.

No one's ever accused me of being an athlete, and the Playfriends gently tease me about my sensible shoes. So the doc and I are still a bit unsure how this happened, but it did.

Plan A for treatment was a three-month round of thrice-daily stretches plus OTC anti-inflammatories. After four months, the pain has increased, so I went back to the doc last week and he said we needed to move to Plan B. He also said there was cause to believe I might have a stress fracture.

Yesterday morning I had an MRI and later in the day I returned for the verdict. No stress fracture but there's definitely a small rupture near the point where the plantar fascia connects to the heel.

The treatment? A short leg walking cast. In case you're not familiar with that, just keep reading.

This is Jeffrey, the very nice man who put on my cast. He's also a licensed massage therapist and showed me how to massage the foot once the cast comes off.

<-----This is the beginning of the process. He put a cotton sock on my leg and then wrapped it with cotton padding. And then he began applying an off-white fiberglass wrap.

Here's Jeffrey smoothing down the final layer of wrap. -------->

They handed me a selection of cast colors and had me choose. I figured dark blue would go with most of my clothes and not show dirt too much. Oh my gosh at the flab on my thigh. Don't guess I can do anything about it now.

<------------ The finished product.

The finished product with the walking boot, which looks like a Keen water sandal and probably costs ten times as much. ----->

And the Playground Monitor modeling her latest couture. Think Clinton and Stacy would approve?

The cast comes off July 10, just three days before I leave for the RWA conference in DC. I'm already seeing ugly shoes in my future and possibly an ankle brace since my joint will have been immobilized for six weeks and will most likely stiffen up. The muscles will probably atrophy too. Sightseeing is gonna be a ton o' fun.

Have you ever had a cast? Any tips on caring for it? Dealing with the inevitable itch about halfway down my calf? I did order something called a Shower Guard that's supposed to keep it dry in the shower. And Jeffrey warned me that if it got wet and had to be replaced, the insurance won't pay for the replacement.


Maven Linda said...

PM -- No experience with a cast, but plenty with plantar fasciitis, which is definitely painful. Bet you have high arches, don't you? Do you walk around barefoot? If you do, that's likely the cause. Yes, you'll have to be careful when you come out of the cast, but it won't be that ankle you'll be having the most trouble with. It'll be the ankle on your good foot, because it will have been catching all the strain for the next six weeks. Don't be surprised if the good foot starts swelling and aching, just from the extra stress. If that does happen, and it depends on how much walking you do, just elevate it and ice it down.

There's a very low-tech way to deal with plantar fasciitis: fold a tissue or paper towel and stuff it under your arch. It provides just enough support to take the strain off the plantar tendon. Or you can buy those stretchy arch supports you see in catalogs; they work, too. But the best thing you can do is make sure you have good arch support in your shoes, and don't go barefoot. Been there, done that.

The word verification is: RUSTERDS. Is that a comment about my age?????

Christine said...

My only experience with casts is my daughter's. We got her a waterproof cast at extra cost due to the whole showering thing. (it was her wrist). I have had a broken foot/and severe sprain on the left foot, but I had a removable cast/walking shoe. No fun being incapacitated, but at least it was the left foot. So DH didn't have to pick up the slack.

I remember my opposite side being off-kilter for a while--when the cast comes off, practice walking with a normal gait as much as possible. After my DH broke his toe, he went off-kilter and now his hip is a mess. We'll be heading into a hospital for his replacement surgery sometime this year (if he ever gets off his duff and finds a good ortho here to perform the surgery).

Feel better soon -- and you'll still rock the conference--just a bit more slowly!!

M.V.Freeman said...

I've never had a cast, thank goodness! I've worked with plenty of people in casts.

All I have to say is hang in there,and follow what Maven Linda said! :)

Angel said...

Blue! I think its pretty. :)

The hardest part when Drama Queen had her casts was bath time. Of course, we had 2 arms we couldn't get wet. I see lots of baths in your future.

As for the itching, we got lots of lectures about not sticking things down into the cast. Our doctor suggested benadryl, so you could try that if you have too much itching. We didn't have that problem, but it was the middle of winter. I can't imagine a cast during summer heat.

I second what Linda said about the arch support. I started having heal pain last year, and after your experience, it really freaked me out. I was doing stretches and working out, but it didn't seem to be helping. But when I bought new exercise shoes with specialized arch support and started wearing arch-supported flip flops in the house, it went away. Just like that. So I do think one key is NOT going barefoot.


Andrea Laurence said...

I'm glad I'm almost never barefoot. Its one of my issues. I get up in the morning and put on shoes. They stay on until I go to bed. I don't know whether as as kid I developed this habit to hide my freaky toes or that I always seemed to have holes in my socks, but I always have shoes on.

Guess its to my benefit. I have high arches and from time to time get really terrible cramps on the bottom of my foot (the kind that wake you in the night screaming). Maybe the shoes keep it from being worse.

Playground Monitor said...

Nope, Maven Linda, I don't have high arches, but I do go barefoot a lot -- or I did. I wear shoes now -- ones with arch support. I bought some shoe inserts that have gel cushioning in the heel and extra arch support.

Can't take benedryl (it make me crazy and dream about bugs on the wall) but someone told me to take a blow dryer and blow cool air down the cast for itching.

Ask around, Christine, about ortho docs. There are basically two big groups here in this area with docs in each specialty. If you know any nurses, ask them. Or ask around and find folks who've had hip replacements.

Joyce said...

I was talking to my chiropractor about my hip hurting because I was walking funny due to planter faciitis and he adjusted my feet. He did the adjustment for 5 days in a row and now I go once every 2 to 3 weeks.

Yes, I have high arches and I go barefoot a lot - after all, I am a hillbilly. Also, with my job,I walk 6 to 10,000 steps a day and I have shoes with great support.

I'm lucky I found this solution before I developed a rupture.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Oh dear! Maven Linda has scared the bejeebers out of me now! I do have high arches, and I never wear shoes in the house. Guess I'd better start wearing my arch-support flip flops around here.

I've never had a cast, so have no tips to give. But that part about not getting it wet -- oy, what a pain. Hope the shower guard thingie works for you!

Caffey said...

Hi PM!! I've never had a cast! I dealt with my daughter having one during a summer, and honest, she was pretty miserable with it with the heat. So stay cool!

PM's Mother said...

Oh, child!

I forgot to tell you last night that I used extra arch supports when I was bothered with plantar fascitis(sp?).

As to casts...well, don't do what your sister did many years ago when she had a cast on her wrist/arm. It was summertime and the arm got a little odor, so she sprayed Right Guard down the cast. It just made it stink more!

Linda Winstead Jones said...

I've never had a cast. Knock wood. Yours is at least pretty! :-)

Sorry about this, PM. What a bummer.

I go barefoot around the house all the time! Maybe I shouldn't. I'm definitely not going outside barefoot. I want boots. Tall ones. DH found a snake in the garden this morning. :-/


Playground Monitor said...

A snake? A SNAKE???????? I'd never go outside again.

Christine said...

Thanks for the advice, PM, I will use it! I hope we get one soon as he really is a lot of pain.

A snake? Yikes!!

And I have high arches as well. And I go barefoot... a lot. I hate wearing shoes.

I will try to be better about it now.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Marilyn, {{{HUGS!!!}}} for the cast but what a great color!!! Hope you are better sooner than expected. :D

Can't wait to see what colors you paint your toenails. :D

Hugs, JJ

Anonymous said...

You poor thing, but you look really cool in that cast. Yes, back in 95, but broke a bone in the bottom of my left foot. I had a glow in the dark cast, during the day it collected sun rays and at night it would glow under the sheet. My 4 year old son thought it was wayyyyyy cool. When you scratch, do so gently is the best advice I can give.