22 September 2012

Nyah, Nyah! God Gave Me An Extra!

I might be premature in saying this, but we may have reached Slumpus Terminus. One word: WOOT! But first, an interesting tidbit along the way of getting there, which starts with a cut to a seemingly unrelated topic…

In my business of technology, there are consulting houses who’s very names turn heads. Needless to say, vendors such as my employer spend many cycles trying to convince these Industry Gods of our own Godliness. Said Industry Gods therefore hear an awful lot of corporate blather, and, speaking as one who cannot stay awake more than about fifteen minutes in a meeting where I’m expected only to listen and not participate, I can only imagine the scale of their agony living through endless days of Death by PowerPoint. It was thus with great mirth that I read a report from one recently, where instead of reporting on technology, they reported, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, on what to do – and not to do – when presenting to them. Rule Number One was not to put up a slide that says, “Our people make the difference.” Having worked for many firms whose corporate overview decks obligingly include this bit of inanity, I laughed out loud at the consultant’s decree that, [sic] “Unless you’ve bred some mutant DNA, we’re pretty sure that all firms that come before us have good people. Don’t waste your time claiming otherwise.” Touché!

Here’s the funny part. I’ve got a bit of that mutant DNA in me, so I learned this week. Take that, Industry Gods!

What does all this have to do with running, the slump, and the price of oolong tea in Tibet? Dear reader, think back to the Adventure of the Cardiac Ultrasound, which stemmed from seeing Lady Doc. Another outcome of said visit was a strategy to attack the Pesky Left Achilles, now in an annoying painful state for a solid six months, long enough to cross out the word acute and write in chronic in crayon. On top of the squishy New Balance shoes I’d procured a few weeks prior to ease the pounding and potentially heal the beast, Lady Doc packed me off to x-ray the heel (which turned out to be just fine) and to be made to heel at the hands of a good round of physical therapy. So as I padded around in the slipper-like Squishy Shoes, I also submitted to the skills of my new Sadistic Practitioner, so dubbed because the name Physical Terrorist (my last PT, also of the same fine firm) was already used, and because it is a kinder version of a name one of her former patients involuntarily emitted while enduring her painful goodness.

Several myofascial release scrapings (painful, but it’s good pain), and many wonderful minutes spent on the electro-stim later, progress was obvious, but a new worry arose in the front half of said abused podiatric appendage, a pain weird and strong enough to have me dreading a stress fracture. With the New York Marathon looming, I kvetched until Darling Spouse reached her tolerance of grouse and insisted I get it checked out, reminding me of our new, “Damn the torpedoes, we’ve hit our deductible!” status. Yep, she’s right on that one.

Dr. Foot Doctor (you do remember Dr. Foot Doctor from the Famed Surgery of ’08, right?) to the rescue! Here’s where the right guy makes all the difference. I could have called Lady Doc, who would have been happy to pack me back to Local Hospital to x-ray the front of the same foot (can you get foot cancer from two x-rays in a month?), and a day or two later heard that the radiologist reported there were indeed no cracks, but nothing beats one stop shopping with the famed father of foot features. No, nothing beats having the x-ray machine in the back room, then walking twelve feet to the exam room and studying the ghostly images together, working out the mechanics and strategies to recover. And nothing beats getting in on six hours notice (big thank-you!).

When all was said and done, it made sense. The knee bone’s connected to the leg bone and so on, and using such logic we surmised a pretty plausible principle for the pain, which stemmed from trying to deal with the Achilles with the Squishy shoes. It did not, I repeat did not, seem to be related to the fact that we found an extra bone in my big toe. There’s that mutant DNA. Yep, God gave me an extra one that you probably haven’t got. Nyah!

Now, this isn’t entirely rare, but it’s not entirely common, either. A little web research turned up the fact that there isn’t even a solid agreement on the number of bones that you’re suppose to have in your foot – one site said twenty-six, another twenty-eight. But several sources did acknowledge that a percentage of freaks (my wording, of course) in the universe have extras which appear in various places in the foot. My special little stowaway is known as an Os Interphalangeus, one form of the class of “accessory ossicles” (which I think are frozen drippy things that form off decorations you hang outside your house in the winter, oh, wait those are accessory icicles). Said ossicle has apparently been living under the joint of my big toe for God knows how long, never paying rent, never doing the dishes, just adding weight to my stride – at least a gram or two, clearly enough to add a microsecond to my marathon time.

But frankly, I thought he was kind of cute on the x-ray image, and I’ll let him stay.

(I trust you’re thinking, “Gee, two weeks in a row he’s showing off pictures of his innards, what a weirdo!” Guilty. I find this stuff ultimately fascinating.)

In any event, many good things came of this beyond pride in another element of uniqueness and a chance to reconnect with Dr. Foot Doctor. I walked out with the confidence that nothing was broken, a roll of kinesiology tape (no, that’s not a mystic religion), and a script for a kicker dose of anti-inflammatories that in a mere day have me thinking they’re either magic or the best placebo on the planet. And they’re not even on the World Anti-Doping Agency banned substance list! Double bonus!

But before I’d popped a single pill, I hit the roads after seeing Dr. Foot Doctor and hammered one, breaking a four-year-old personal best on a training course that I run several times a month. The power of positive thinking! Another solid one yesterday, and nearly twenty this morning, and suddenly New York in six weeks doesn’t seem like a problem.

Slumpus Terminus? I sure hope so. Let’s hope it sticks!

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