The Saga of the Foot (Part 2)

I bet you didn’t know that a foot can be part of a Saga? In this particular Saga, my right foot plays the antagonist. The villainous traiter has exasperated it’s owner with stiffness and pain for decades. Usually a Saga has a brave hero. In this Saga, I play the hapless victim.

In the beginning the stiffness, pain, and cramping was easier to shake off. But I was young then. Also Parkinson’s was just getting warmed up. This foot and Parkinson’s generally have been haunting me for a very long time. One of my earliest memories of it was when I was in college. I went for a backpacking trip with my Dad and two brothers. At one point during the hike, out of nowhere I had bad pain in my right knee and had to take a break. I remember being very surprised. Also a little embarrassed, as my younger brother had to temporarily take my pack so that I could continue on the hike. I’ve always been fairly fit and strong so having to relinquish my pack to my skinny brother two years my junior drew comments. I’ll never know for certain, but I think that knee pain was caused by my gait being just a tad off due to Parkinson’s. That was the beginning of a long, very slow decline. In the many years since then, I gradually have had to pay closer and closer attention to my right side, the foot in particular, to ensure I don’t hurt my foot, knee, or hip.

By the time I was finally diagnosed approaching two decades later, I was a huge mess. It was impossible to limit my activity enough to avoid pain and misery. I recall that simply walking from my car to my office was excruciating. Once I received the proper treatment, things got better quickly. In fact, over the past nearly three years since being diagnosed, I had been gradually improving. That is, until a little over a month ago, when I made the mistake of playing soccer (see Part 1). So it appears that my arch nemesis, that lowly cowardly backstabbing traitor, my right foot, isn’t done with me yet. How cunning he was. Waiting for me to let my guard down just a bit, so that he could do his all-too-familiar work.

Playful personification of my Parky right foot aside, I am obviously quite disappointed to have suffered this fairly significant setback. This means that, despite all I do to fight this faceless foe, it’s not enough. I was never really under the impression that I would ever be 100%, but the severity of the impact a careless slip in vigilance has had on me has surprised even me. For over a month now I’ve dealt with significant foot pain and stiffness bad enough to necessitate the use of crutches about 75% of the time. I AM getting better but it’s slow. Even now, I can only walk around but so much. When I do walk around, I’m often limping. In the late afternoon through bed time I can barely hobble around.

I can practically hear it now, “But did you go to the doctor”? I mean no disrespect when I say this, but for this particular problem, I’ve not much use for doctors. Remember, I’ve experienced varying severities of this issue since I was a young man. I’ve been to various doctors many, many times over the years. It is usually a waste of time at best. At worst, I’ve spent a lot of money on treatments I didn’t need or that even exacerbated the problem. Unfortunately, Parkinson’s is too cunning for me to understand and I live in this body. Besides the notable ability to write prescriptions, I have learned that doctors are all but helpless in the face of this neurological beast.

At times, I get incredibly frustrated with my right foot. Pretend you can’t put weight on your foot 75% of the time. Try to run errands, do chores, play with your kids, function at work, exercise. Now do that for a month. With pain. I know people break bones. Need to wear a cast. But they put up with it for a while then they fully heal. This never really goes away. In fact, it only get worse as it has been steadily doing since I was a young man.

However, I take comfort in the fact that Parkinson’s worsens very gradually. Since I was doing ok prior to the injury a little over a month ago, this should (eventually) pass. And there are definite signs of improvement. I can walk without pain more. I even fully participated in Can’t Shake Me’s (CSM) Sunday morning workout this morning with minimal pain. Take heart, dear reader. Before too long I shall be adorning the internet with what everyone (except my Mother) is waiting for: Deadlift videos.

That’s not me but it’s approximately what I look like backpacking.

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