Around a year ago, I started experiencing pain in my left foot when running. This was accompanied by an alarming looking lump on the top of the foot. I duly consulted a podiatrist, who suspected a problem with my movement during exercise and subjected me to ‘gait analysis’.
This involved stripping to my underwear and running on a treadmill whilst being filmed. The podiatrist and I then kicked back with a drink, played the video and critiqued my performance.
I consider this experience to be the complete opposite of the ‘glamour’ photo sessions that some people have. The ones where you dress up nicely, have your makeup done and are then captured in a series of semi-provocative poses, often astride a motorcycle. The purpose of these shoots is so that you can bring out the photos in years to come and make your grandchildren squirm with acute embarrassment by pointing out that ‘Nana was hot once’.
I haven’t had professional photos taken, but in my imagination it would be far preferable to watching my muffin top* surge forward and backward with each stride under harsh fluorescent lighting.
Aside from the unappealing aesthetics there was the mechanics of my gait to consider. During the 2012 Olympics, American runner Manteo Mitchell completed his section of the 4x400m relay with a broken leg. This man finished his race with more finesse than I witnessed on the podiatrist’s monitor that day. My feet are flat, I overpronate (roll inwards), the right side of my body leads. It was akin to watching Quasimodo lurch after his master.
I was prescribed orthotics (custom insoles) which have helped in the time since, but the pain has recently recurred. I had an x-ray and the podiatrist gleefully pointed out all of the areas of my feet which are abnormal. This bone is too short, this one is too long. My foot physiology has been abnormal since birth and using them for almost 40 years has taken its toll. As Lady Gaga would say, I was ‘born this way’. And to think, all these years my feet seemed pretty normal from the outside. I had no idea of the horror that lurked within. What I have is called Hallux Limitus and it’s a form of degenerative osteoarthritis.
To delay surgery for as long a possible I had a steroid injection yesterday to reduce inflammation and hopefully take away the pain. It hurt like hell. Then I hobbled home to relate my tale of woe to B. I felt a bit foolish about my minor complaint, considering all he has to deal with, but as usual that didn’t stop me. If my foot turned gangrenous and had to be amputated, it would not approach the seriousness of his medical problems. I could always get an prosthetic foot. He doesn’t have the option of a prosthetic brain.
Running is hastening the degeneration of the joint so it will be pretty much a no-go from now on. This may not sound like a big deal but I find it quite depressing. I’ve always enjoyed being fit but lately exercise has been my primary ‘me time’ and stress relief. For an hour or so at a time I can forget all about B’s brain cancer. It also wears me out so helps me to sleep even if I’m worried or anxious. Of course I can still exercise, I just can’t run, so I am planning to do other things after the 6 weeks of non-activity that the injection requires.
To cheer myself up last night I telephoned the mothership, to place the blame squarely with her and my father for creating a monster. “It is not our fault!” she exclaimed, once she’d had the chance to wake up and figure out what the hell I was going on about (it was 6.30am Adelaide time).
* For the benefit of my international readers, ‘muffin top’ refers to a band of fat bulging over a waistband, similar to the top of a well-baked muffin (but less appetising). Visit any British high street in summertime for a plethora of examples.