I’m having surgery in the morning to have an extra bone removed from my ankle. It’s called os trigonum, and it occurs in about 10% of the population. It doesn’t bother most people, but a series of unfortunate events can lead to the bone becoming inflamed and it can cause all sorts of problems. It’s a problem that plagues ballet dancers, and can also be called “the nutcracker syndrome.” From what I understand, it’s hard to diagnose, and not a common injury unless you happen to be a ballet dancer. I am not a ballet dancer. I guess I’m just gifted at being different. Paul said maybe I’m just an especially evolved individual (the fact that I was born without my lateral incisor teeth supports this hypothesis).
In fall of 2012, I was going to yoga two or three times a week, playing tennis once or twice a week, and trying to get a few runs in. I started running a mile and a half before yoga, and I really enjoyed being outside and then getting the awesome stretch of yoga. I was playing enough tennis to not lose every game, and I had a string of marathon matches. At some point in October, my foot started to hurt. Towards the end of November, I had a really long, really cold tennis match, and I could barely walk by time it was over. Like an idiot, I went on with my plans for the Reindeer Run, and I played one more tennis match in December. I was convinced that if I stopped running and playing tennis for most of December and a couple weeks in January, that it would get better. Obviously, I should have curtailed the traipsing around downtown Charleston in high heels. But Christmas and the New Year just scream high heels to me, and being tall is fun, and I’ve been wearing high heels with no real problems for most of my adult life. I wore heels every day for four years, and I don’t wear them every day anymore, so who knew it was that big of a deal?
I mentioned back in January that I thought I had broken my foot. In February, I was diagnosed with posterior tibial tendonitis and planter fasciitis, and I wore a big tall boot for a full month, and I tried just about every NSAID imaginable. I was extremely diligent with my NSAIDs and my boot, and I basically went to work, came home, and iced my ankle for a month. I played a ton of candy crush. In March, Briscoe tried to keep my entertained, and I had an MRI, that was basically negative. I was able to get it together to walk around during the masters, but after the tournament my foot still hurt a lot, so I wore the boot for another three weeks. The hardest part was that the pain moved around. Sometimes my toes hurt, and some times the top of my ankle hurt, sometimes the back of my ankle, sometimes my posterior tendon was absolutely killing me. The bottom of my foot hurt, right in my arch. The most frustrating part was that I couldn’t figure out what made it worse, and what made it better.
I went to a foot surgeon in Charleston, and I went to a foot surgeon in Augusta. They both said that I had tendonitis, although the one in Augusta was sure there was something else going on. Neither doctor had much to offer as far as a game plan. The one in Augusta said I could try physical therapy, the doctor in Charleston said he was sure physical therapy would exacerbate the problem. The Charleston doctor diagnosed me with a “subtle cavus foot” and sent me to get orthotics to correct the fact that the arch in my right foot was higher than the one on the left. The Charleston doctor kept telling me how tight my ankle cords were in my right foot, and that my problem was never going to get better if I couldn’t improve my ankle range of motion. I promised him I stretched religiously, and he said I should stretch more. . Both doctors agreed maybe I shouldn’t worry about it for a while.
I stopped worrying about. I figured if it was going to hurt when I did absolutely nothing, then I might as well do something and have it hurt. I started going back to yoga, and I started running a mile once or twice a week. The orthotics essentially eliminated my planter fasciitis. With my planter fasciitis improving, I was able to increase my activity level without immediate pain increases. Strangely, I noticed that going to yoga two days in a row, even for just an easy 45 minute basic class, was something I could not tolerate. If tendonitis was the main problem, I would have expected the running to be more painful than the yoga. I also noticed increased pain when it rained.
However, after about three weeks of this new “screw it, I do what I want” attitude, I left my keys at the deli by my house on a monday night, and by the time I walked back to my house, I had about five minutes to sprint back before it closed for the night. I sprinted back, in my new Brooks glycerin and my orthotic inserts, and I got my keys, but I felt like my ankle was angry about the sprinting.
The next morning, a Tuesday, when I started to walk down my steps, my ankle locked up. I’ve never had my ankle lock up. I don’t guess I’ve ever really had a joint lock up at all, because this was a new, excruciatingly upsetting experience. My ankle was stuck in a pointed position, like when I put my foot on the ground and tried to take a step, I couldn’t put my entire foot on the ground, and the attempt caused me blinding pain. I hobbled around on my toe for a about five minutes, and then my foot magically corrected itself and I could walk normally.
I had seen the Charleston doctor the day before (of course), but I was able to see the Augusta doctor that Friday on my way to Athens for the Georgia South Carolina game. I explained to the Augusta doctor about how my ankle locked up, and he said he wanted to look at my MRI again. He came back in the exam room, looked at my ankle, and said, does this hurt? and I yelped, YES! He looked up at me and said, GOOD NEWS! I think I know what’s wrong with you! And I can fix it! (when I had my appendix taken out, after the CT scan came back, the doctors seemed extremely pleased that i did actually have appendicitis, and that I “got” to have surgery. To be fair, I think that kid was a med student, and I guess I sort of get it because it is better than the alternatives, but I feel like the enthusiasm can feel vaguely awkward).
Augusta doctor explained I have an extra bone in my ankle, and that he’s never taken this bone out of a person’s foot who didn’t see improvement from the surgery. I found that encouraging and said sign me up! (My ankle has continued to lock up off and on, and I would do most anything to have that stop happening, because it is most unpleasant.
So. Here we are. I originally took two weeks of sick leave to have this surgery, but since the government is still shut down*, that leave has been cancelled, and I have plenty of time to convalesce in the comforts of my parents backyard. I never have to have a real cast, and he said I can walk on my foot as soon as I feel comfortable, but that I should spend a week or two with it elevated and taking it easy. I will be in a short boot for the next month, but after that I’m allowed to ease back into whatever I want to do, which is exciting.
Wish me luck, I will be here catching up on all my television shows for the next week to ten days. XOXO
* if I wasn’t having surgery, I would buy a plane ticket somewhere and go on a trip. Tomorrow. Too bad.