Stinky Feet Pt. 1

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what’s wrong with my feet. I’ve been hesitant to write too much about it because I don’t want to sound whine-y, but I do want to try to answer your questions. :) So here’s the gist:

Thirteen and a half months ago I felt a pain in the forefront of my foot, around the metatarsals. I had been wearing heels at a wedding, and had run 3 miles beforehand, so I brushed it off as fatigue from one of those two things.

However, the pain didn’t subside over the next few days, and it started to bruise. I’d had a stress fracture several years back, and this felt hauntingly similar. After much research, I was pretty convinced I’d done it again. Even knowing there wasn’t much that could be done, I headed to the doctor to get it checked out.

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The x-rays didn’t reveal a fracture, but the doctor was fairly certain that’s what I had. Plus, it was early in the injury, and stress fractures can take several weeks to appear on a x-ray. So home I went in an attractive blue boot. Not even one of the cool plastic black ones.

boot

I was devastated that I had to stay off my foot for 6-8 weeks. Crushed.

I was blissfully unaware of what was to come.

Weeks and weeks passed. I was an excellent patient. I stayed off of it as much as I could, responsibly listening to the doctor so I could get back to running sooner. But there seemed to be no improvement; no change in the amount of pain. If anything, it was getting worse. I was downing endless combinations of Advil, Tylenol, and Aleve to no avail (which I never do). I knew in my heart something wasn’t right. A stress fracture would be healing, even if it took awhile…

Back to the doctor I went. Still no stress fracture on the x-rays, but obvious pain and trauma. I was sent to an orthopedic doctor, who took yet another set of films. No stress fracture, no bone spurs, no neuromas, no nothing. He told me it was probably metatarsalgia (inflammation of the metatarsals) and I should get new running shoes and run with metatarsal pads. While I knew this wasn’t right, I got new shoes, and I put metatarsal pads in all my shoes.

Fast forward a few more weeks with no positive progress. I returned to the orthopedist where I was given an MRI. The MRI revealed little more than some inflammation. He told me to live with it and come back in 6 months. (I’m still barely able to walk during this time).

At some point during that process, my liver had enough. It was tired.I had completed wiped it out & didn’t want to work anymore.  No more pain medication for me. It wasn’t doing anything anyways.

Frustrated, exhausted, and in pain, I headed back to my original doctor at the end of February (almost 4 months down the road now). My right foot had not shown any improvement, and now I was getting the same pain in the left foot. It obviously was not a running injury. I hadn’t run in almost 4 months, and a new pain had appeared. A week or two later, the pain showed up in my hands. If my hands and feet could be interchanged, the pain would have been in the exact same place, the exact same feeling.

The doctor’s next guess was rheumatoid arthritis, but all the tests were negative. She sent me to a rheumatologist. He ran every test in the book. (He didn’t do this willingly- I basically had to beg and plead for him to try anything. You have to be your own advocate: he wasn’t living in pain- I was.) Lots of tests- parvovirus, hepatitis, Lyme disease, lupus, RA…

Still no answers. Come back in 6 months.

Meanwhile, I was thoroughly run down and exhausted, my hair was falling out in frighteningly large clumps, and my white blood cell count and platelets were in the tank. After several re-checks, I was sent to a hematologist. She agreed my blood work didn’t look good, but couldn’t come up with a clear cut answer. Her best guess was some kind of connective tissue disorder, or a lingering virus. Perhaps a bit of a vitamin B12 deficiency, although it wasn’t revealed in the blood work. The only thing she found in my lab work was a positive ANA. So she sent me back to the rheumatologist, where I found out it the test result was very inconclusive and there was little they could do with the additional information except wait and see what happens.

Come back if it gets worse.

Worse? I couldn’t fathom what worse would be. I could barely walk- forget run or dance. I could barely hold a pen- I had trouble signing my notes at work, and opening charts was a task that left me thoroughly exhausted. I couldn’t open jars,  and I had trouble with door handles. I winced if anybody touched my hands or feet. I couldn’t sleep at night- even a sheet on top of my feet caused enough pain to wake me. I clearly remember the day I had to get my husband to zip and button my pants for me. I didn’t want to know what worse was.

I knew it could be worse- at least I had hands and feet. They did function, albeit with pain and difficulty. I wasn’t in a wheelchair; I wasn’t bedridden. I constantly tried to keep that in mind and keep a positive outlook.

Despite my efforts, it started taking a huge toll on me mentally. As soon as the bruise on my foot faded, there were no visible signs of anything being wrong. At times, I felt doctor’s didn’t believe anything was wrong. I began wondering if it was all in my head. It’s tough to fight for answers when you feel that way. Frustrated doesn’t begin to describe it. I cried daily for no reason. You can only tell people you are hurting so many times- I didn’t want to be annoying, or unpleasant to be around. And people stop listening anyway.

I thought if I didn’t say anything, maybe it would go away.

Stayed tuned for Part 2… (if you haven’t fallen asleep already)