Doc J (the podiatrist): “So about running…”
Me: “Is my marathon career one and done?”
Doc J: “Yeah. I would be happy if you would stick to 5Ks. Actually, I’d be really happy if you would stick to swimming.”
Me “…*disgusted face*”
Doc J: “I would be fine if you never played soccer again.”
Me: “…I wouldn’t be.”
This was the moment I realized that there wasn’t going to be a simple, easy fix for my foot. I’ve never had a doctor tell me I shouldn’t do something for the rest of my life. Sure, running another marathon isn’t at the top of my Let’s Do That Again! list, but I had been toying with the idea to join my friend Jen for the Honolulu Marathon in December because if I’m going to run another 26.2 I want to be able to cross the finish line and then head straight to the beach to recover while sipping a Mai Tai. Having someone say I can’t do it sort of makes me want to try. Yeah, I’m that kind of person.
After x-ray confirmation of the injury, Doc J gave me two options:
1- treat it conservatively with rest, ice, supportive shoes, and a blast of NSAIDs
2- surgically insert a screw across the joint to hold it in place
Option 1 was basically what I had been doing for the past year, minus the blast of NSAIDs, which would be an attempt to get it to calm down after I had angered it by trying to play soccer. There was a small discussion about corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation if the NSAIDs didn’t work, but I’ve been on those bastards many a time for terrible colds and pneumonia and I try to stay as far away as possible from them. Option 1 would also never be a solution to the problem since it wouldn’t fix the ligament, it would just try to make living with the pain more manageable.
Choosing to have surgery when death isn’t imminent is not an easy choice to make, but after a year of constant pain and not being able to participate in the activities that bring me joy, I had a feeling it would have to happen. And let us not forget that I am currently studying for a profession that routinely involves 12 shifts on one’s feet while caring for others. One of my goals in nursing is to work in critical care, I can’t be limping around while my patient is coding.
Doc J: “You’re in nursing school? Then I’m going to treat you like a nurse.”
Me: “Does that mean you think I’m stubborn?”
Doc J: “Exactly.”
But I was still a bit hesitant, I hadn’t gotten my mind wrapped around it all. One of the things I like about Doc J is that he’s straight forward and won’t sugar coat anything (but in a nice way, not a rude asshole way), and he put it something like this, “if you spent all day at a desk and the rest of the time on the couch, you could probably deal with option 1, but you’re young (he says this a lot, I’m not sure he fully realizes that I’m almost 30) and if you want to lead the active lifestyle that makes you happy, you’re going to need this surgery”.
Next came the logistics. The schedule in an accelerated nursing program doesn’t have a lot of downtime when you can be on crutches. The only feasible time in the next 9 months would be in May during the one week break between spring and summer semesters. The plan in the mean time was for me to try option 1 to see if I could at least get the foot to calm down a little and discuss with the school if surgery between semesters would even be a possibility.
There’s something relieving about just having a plan, even if that plan involves having a piece of hardware inserted into your bone. It was nice to at least have an answer to why my foot was still hurting and to have a doctor who 1- believed me when I said I was in pain and 2- wanted to do something to fix the problem. When he was walking out of the exam room one of the nurses was walking in. As he rounded the corner he yelled to her, “treat her like a nurse!”.
It’s nice having a doctor who gets you.