24 October 2008

Sometimes You Just Know

When last I wrote, I was in limbo. I wanted answers. I knew I probably wouldn’t like the answer. Well, I got the answer. And I don’t like it, though it is exactly what I expected. And the cure is also exactly what I expected. Would I rather go back to Limbo Land, not know, and have a hope that it wouldn’t be as it is? Nope. In life we must move onward, absorb our hit points, and plan for the next day.

Many years back I lost a dear relative (well, technically first cousin once-removed, but that’s just the family historian in me talking…) to colon cancer. To us on the outside, the time between its onset and her demise seemed amazingly fast. But her husband commented later that he was pretty sure she knew something was wrong. Sometimes you just know.

When something goes twang and subsequently a part of you doesn’t work, you pretty much just know. My foot went twang just after the start of the Wineglass Marathon, and my toe no longer works. Sometimes you just know.

Dr. Foot Doctor (who’s wife, by the way, is running the Marine Corps Marathon in DC this weekend, good luck Mrs. Foot Doctor!) initially centered on arthritic build-up to explain why my toe wasn’t working real well earlier this summer. He may not have been entirely wrong, but it didn’t seem entirely right, either. But the anti-inflammatory meds worked to a reasonable extent, and onward we pressed.

After the twang, so to speak, I suggested a tendon tear, but he was skeptical, since such injuries usually result in the big toe sticking up like a bad joke from an ED commercial – yes, for more than four hours straight. Mine didn’t. So a tendon tear didn’t make sense. But neither did any other rational explanation. Irrational explanations (alien activity, chemicals in the water, economic stress…) we pretty much did rule out. Off I went to the MRI machine, where, after you argue with them, your insurance company pays most of the cost of your 30 minute nap in a very loud machine.

Through the joys of digital radiology, I ended up with a CD of my MRI. Yes, the doctor can access it online, but they give you one just in case. And this makes for hours of fun. Other than the really obvious stuff, I really have no idea what’s in these images (like the one included here of the tendons on the bottom of my foot – I think), but they’re awfully cool. I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, so I waited for the official review.

The call came tonight. The MRI has been read, analyzed, and marked up with circles, arrows, and paragraphs on the back of each one to be used as evidence. And guess what? Just as I thought, I’ve torn a tendon, the great toe flexor tendon which runs along the bottom of the foot and pulls the toe downward. The tear is right where I envisioned it based on the Wineglass Twang – about an inch behind the ball of the foot – it may in fact be in this image – I really can’t be sure. But it’s not quite how I envisioned it. Instead of the tear you’d tend to imagine, where you see that little stringy bugger snapped in two, it’s a linear tear – the long way, more or less – which makes the tendon so weak that it doesn’t pull the toe down, but it’s not severed. So my foot can indeed be featured on a commercial in the World Series (not that anyone is watching it) without you lunging for the remote control because the kids are in the room.

Early next week I’ll meet with the good doctor to choose Door #1 or Door #2. Behind Door #1 is 4-6 weeks of immobilization in a cast, hoping that it heals, which it should. “Should” is a little tenuous, though. “Might” would likely be a better word. Behind Door #2 is, you guessed it, we slice ‘em, we dice ‘em, we sew ‘em back up. Surgery. Not big-time surgery, just a fairly simple procedure, but surgery none the less. The really weird part though, is that the sewing ‘em back up includes the use of ‘equine tendon’, as he put it. Yeah, as in horse. Strong as a horse. Horsepower. The joke possibilities are endless. This, too is followed by 4-6 weeks of recovery, but the “Might heal” of Door #1 gets upgraded significantly, and turns into, well, strong as a horse. But Door #2 might also come with scar tissue on an inconvenient spot on the foot of a runner. Hmmm, decisions.

Behind Door #3, by the way, is a goat. If you don’t get that joke, you’re not old enough.

Now, ironically, Chris Russell commented on one of my posts a while back (see “Goals - A Race Tale, and Getting Way Too Deep”), “You need a good injury to set your head straight. 6 months in a cast would be perfect.” OK, Chris, I won’t lay this on you, and it won’t be 6 months, but you win.

Funny thing is, I’m OK with this. I’m even leaning toward the more radical solution of surgery. I’d rather take the aggressive approach and know it’s fixed. A month or two off won’t kill me. I’m just ready to leave Limbo.

1 comment:

  1. Hope things are getting better with the foot now, but, the x-ray is pretty cool.


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