A couple people* asked to hear more about my ankle/foot thing, and also I would like to complain about the doctor I saw for it, so buckle up, dear readers.
For anyone who hasn’t heard me complaining (how?), I sprained my ankle a few days before Hazel was born. Much to the surprise of all the people who nervously watched pregnant me doing box jumps at the gym, it ended up being a walking injury. Just toppled over in the yard, scaring the hell out of my poor mother in law. It took a few weeks to heal from the initial injury, but that was actually kind of a blessing in disguise – I rested more and accepted help more gracefully than I did after Eliza was born.
It was feeling a lot better after a few weeks, so naturally I decided to play in a frisbee tournament. Just a little bit! And I got my ankle wrapped before I played! I’m not a complete fool! But yeah, ok, this was a pretty dumb move. It was also fun though, and I got a nice smug feeling about being able to play frisbee three weeks after having a baby, so I’m not sure I’d decide differently given the chance. After the tournament, I noticed that my ankle felt pretty sturdy and strong, but there was lingering pain in my foot. I was a little confused, and had been all along, because the pain was on the inside of my ankle/foot, but I’d rolled it to the outside. I went back to resting, icing, NSAIDs, and wearing a brace intermittently. Also making Kevin wait on me and do most of the chores. “Sorry dear, my foot hurts, I think I better rest it.” Whatever, I don’t feel bad, I have spent 584 hours** nursing Hazel, so it’s not like I’m being totally worthless.
I’d try to play frisbee or run on the treadmill every few weeks to see if it had gotten any better, but there was really no change from that point onward. It hurt a little bit throughout the day, every day. High impact activities made it worse, but only briefly, for a day or two. I struggle to assign a number to the pain, since it barely registers compared to kidney stones or childbirth, but it hurt enough that ignoring it seemed like a poor choice.
I decided I probably had tendonitis or a stress fracture, and eventually went to see a doctor. A doctor who plays frisbee with us, so he wouldn’t call me a flaming idiot for waiting four months to get it looked at, or continuing to run sometimes. He looked at x-rays I’d had at the ER the day I sprained it, and noted that I have mild arthritis, and weird arches, and a bunch of bone remodeling from playing sports (the sprinting and cutting cause the bones to get little ridges). That was all interesting, but the actual problem appeared to be the extra bones I have in each foot – accessory navicular bone. Apparently 2-3% of people have this (Jonna does – holla!), but it usually isn’t a big deal. The posterior tibial tendon connects there, though, and in some folks, this gets super inflamed and causes issues. More commonly in people who play sports. Boo, hiss. I actually knew I had this extra bone, because I had issues with them hurting when I was an adolescent, but they stopped sometime in middle school and I basically forgot all about it.
SO. My doctor friend sent me to the single foot/ankle specialist in our fair city to see what could be done. This is where things got super annoying. Foot Doctor took more x-rays, handed me the same diagnosis, and then started making RIDICULOUS TREATMENT SUGGESTIONS. First, he says, OUT LOUD, “I love surgery” which is always a super lovely thing to hear. I mean, he is an orthopedist, I am not surprised, but it’d be nice if he at least PRETENDED he didn’t just want to slice and dice my ankle because it’s the most fun option FOR HIM. When I balked at that, he then suggested throwing a cast on my leg for six to eight weeks, to see if total immobilization might help. I just… what? I get the reasoning behind that idea, I do – it might allow the tendon to calm the hell down. But in terms of impact to my life, it’s essentially the same as surgery. Same immobilization, comparable fall out in terms of muscle atrophy and loss of range of motion… it’s as if he didn’t have eyes or ears, to take into account my patient history or life style or anything. A leg cast. For a 29 year old woman with a job, a two year old, and a 4 month old. A nursing mother who wants to have another kid eventually.
Here are the reasons this dude is a complete idiot:
1. Surgery for ANS is not terrible successful, even in young patients, and is a giant pain in the ass to recover from. That’s not even taking into account the likelihood that a 29 year old with two little kids and a job and NO SPARE TIME would do a good job with rehabbing afterwards, to get back range of motion and rebuild strength. Which would basically set me up for future ankle injuries, wheee, thanks dude.
2. He seemed to have no clue how disruptive and awful a cast and crutches would be for SIX TO EIGHT WEEKS OH MY HELL. I mean, this dude has four young children. I can only assume his wife does 100% of the child rearing, because how on earth would he even suggest this, otherwise? A cast, just to SEE if it would help. And if it didn’t, then surgery and ANOTHER CAST. Can you imagine hobbling on crutches to nurse an infant several times a night? I can, because I DID THAT IN JUNE.
3. He was totally dismissive of the fact that I am a) still nursing, and b) want to have another kid. Like he has never heard of relaxin. You might be sitting there, reading (if you are still reading this, you get a cookie), and saying “Susie, what the heck is relaxin? Are you being a pretentious scientist again, expecting people to know this crap?” Well, dear reader, I DO expect an orthopedist to know what is, yes. It’s a hormone that is produced during pregnancy and nursing that causes ligaments and tendons to… relax. Loosen. So basically, my skeletal system is sort of plastic at the moment, and can be expected to enter a state of plasticity again the next few years. So surgical intervention or a freaking CAST are both terrible treatment options for a body that is known to be in a state of flux. There is an excellent chance that when I stop nursing, this could go away. Or that it would come right back when I am pregnant again. DUMB.
4. He seemed to have no interest in my life style. He was dismissive when I tried to explain the activities that I like and would like to return to (running, sports). Even when prompted, he had none recommendations for ways I could manage or support the injury so that I could continue to do these things. He suggested ceasing to exercise entirely, as if that were a good, healthful life plan. I just.. What? What the hell? What do doctors want us to do? Seriously, can they have a big doctor meeting, everyone is invited, and all get on the same damn page? Do you want us to exercise or not? Is walking the only exercise that’s acceptable? Or maybe just swimming. Good thing everyone has time and access to pools, am I right? Everything else is too high impact, better to just sit your ass on the couch and eat bon bons. This shit drives me BANANAS.
Anyways, I said no thanks to his ideas and asked what else. He said I could do a cortisone shot to see if that might calm the tendon down. I got that on Thursday, and it has felt significantly better since then. I’m supposed to limit activity for awhile (forever apparently, but I’ll give it a few weeks at least). I think I’ll go back to my doctor friend at that point, and see if he has any constructive ideas, because come ON.
*FINE it was just my mom. Maybe I should stop blogging and just call her every day.
**Seriously. FIVE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY FOUR. That’s more than 24 days of my life.