Friday, May 13, 2016

The dream is alive, if not exactly kicking anything for the time being

Dr. Shah looks inside my inflamed feet.

Other than the PCT hike turning into a huge flaming trainwreck, I've had fantastic luck over these past few weeks. Especially with people.

Now, being a big high and mighty skeptic and all, I know full well that with, say, coin flips, your odds of getting heads or tails are always exactly the same with each trial, regardless of any results up till then. Coins have no memory and "streaks" are illusory. They're just part of the human compulsion to find patterns and assign supernatural agency to random occurrences. 

But c'mon, how many superkind people are there in the world?  And yet... this morning's medical adventure continued the streak. One of the reasons I decided to stay in the Bay Area was to have access to world-class sports medicine facilities. Apparently that was a good call, because all indications are that excellent care was exactly what I just experienced.

I went to a big old (newish, that is) office building in Walnut Creek which houses the Center for Sports Medicine. The center has all the trappings of high-powered medicine – wide, carpeted halls, corporate art, high-tech machines and so on. As a proud American I am fully impressed by such externalities, but of course what really matters is the physician. 

Here again – boom, she turned out to be nothing short of awesome. HOW. DOES. THIS. HAPPEN?

What do you want from a doctor? Oh, maybe to have the person take their time, listen to you, answer your questions, speak from experience and yet consider your situation on its own merits, 
explain all the possibilities and then make recommendations. Laughing at your dumb jokes is kinda nice, too. 

Meet Dr. Selina Shah. She did all that. First she let me describe my maniacal PCT aspirations, the tedious tale of what brought me hobbling to her doorstep, and what I'd like to do (resume hiking). Then she did an ultrasound on my messed-up feet, showing me the inflamed areas and confirming my tentative self-diagnosis of Plantar Fasciitis. 

Those horizontal black bands along the bottom and middle are the inflamed areas.

I have two issues – the PF and the external injuries from the initially ill-fitting shoes and insoles. The good news is that the hitherto hideous surface areas are on the mend. The sore spots are healing, and the nurse both dressed my feet and gave me a ton of hi-tech bandages to apply in days to come.

But the PF is the main problem. The severity has seemed to alternate between the feet, but at this point, the left one seems most afflicted. The ultrasound showed dark bands of inflammation remaining, and I can only imagine what they would have looked like a week ago – probably like a Spinal Tap album cover

The good news is that there isn't any torn tissue. It's just inflamed. And Dr. Shah confirmed my speculation that gobbling so much pain-suppressing Ibuprofen as I did might well have allowed me to continue hiking past the point where I should have stopped. But she said that I was wise to halt the hike when I did, as I was indeed headed for more debilitating injuries.

She prescribed turmeric infusions, coffee bean extract supplements, Himalayan salt poultices, and homeopathic tinctures with complimentary crystal energy healing sessions. It turns out my chakras just need encouragement. That all seems kind of odd, but... yeah, just kidding! This isn't Arcata.  

What's next is home therapy with frozen water bottles and stretches, a night brace, twice-weekly physical therapy, a follow-up visit June 1 to track recovery progress, and – yes! – some moderate practice hikes. 

There was one funny quirk, of course. There always is. After they bandaged up my feet again, I was given a pile of supplies and the big foot braces for nighttime. I asked if they had a discreet bag of some sort so that I wouldn't be advertising my infirmities to innocent passersby all over Walnut Creek. Well, they brought me a bag, all right, and wow, is it stealthy!

Bottom line, if I do everything right and the feet cooperate, I could very well be back on trail this time next month. I sure hope that happens, because I need to honor all those who placed their faith in me and donated to my hike and the charities, and earn more per-mile pledges for the worthy causes. 

Plus, I had just acquired a taste for the sheer beauty, the physical exertion, the intensity of feelings and sharpened perceptions, the joy of problem solving and of course, those sweet, sweet hiker boys and girls (of all ages) who I met during my Campo-to-Julian foray. I just want to be able to hike without foot agony eclipsing all else. And if the timing works, I'll be able to re-meet many of the great folks I encountered during that all-too-brief interval

So, thanks to your encouragement and advice, plus the crucial and timely assistance of several people whom I need to thank personally in the next post, plus of course my new medical mentor Dr. Shah and her excellent staff at the Center for Sports Medicine, the dream is alive.

According to experts, there's life in these pups yet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I sometimes roll a frozen 1 Liter plastic bottle around under my feet on a water proof Hefty bag after going out Dancing. I know people think soaking in hot water is the remedy, but you need ice first/first day. Besides, they're most likely too hot, not cold. I let the bottle hit different spots/toes/heel, pushing down on it once in a while. I'll watch TV or do it under the computer desk. Sticking your feet into cold water is good, too. And, No, it doesn't give you a cold. People used to dip wool socks in cold water and then put two more pair over them before bed. I NEVER wear the same shoes for four hours of dancing. I change the socks/peds, too. I know the frozen anything will be hard to get on the trail. Some trail buddies are agreeable to giving each other foot/calf rubs, with no judgement. Mole skin pieces are OK, but you need to apply/cut them with rounded edges so they don't become part of the rubbing/problem. Maybe consulting a Dancer/Ballerina is just as helpful as a sports med doc? My regular email disappeared, so until I change my Google Account to the new one, here it is: