Even though my broken metatarsal has healed, my feet still have the problems that have been plaguing me for years: arthritis, scars from the joint replacement on my right foot, stiffness in my plantar fascia, and arches that flatten easily and need support. My spending three months wholly or largely off my feet has weakened the muscles that support all this mess, and it’s still hard for me to gauge how much I can do before I start causing pain.
I’m talking about normal activities of daily living here, not aerobic walking and certainly not jogging. I have been walking for exercise a couple of times with a friend, but not yet at a pace that would get my heart rate up. The kind of activity that seems to stress out my feet is having to walk to get somewhere, especially over terrain that is at all uneven. Unfortunately, the results don’t usually show up until a day or two later.
For instance, when we were in Branson, we walked down a long hill to get to what was described to us as an upscale shopping area. I was picturing Rodeo Drive East, but actually it was just the stores I shop in at home. I’m not certain Kirkland’s and The Gap count as upscale, but there was one shop selling high priced hand bags. (I didn’t go in.) At any rate, the hill itself was steeper than I’m used to, living in an area that’s flatter than Kansas, but it was two city blocks, not the side of a ravine, and even climbing back up was easy when I paced myself. I felt happy that I could finally do normal activities again.
Two days later, when I was back at home, my right foot started to hurt. I felt the pain in the arch itself, but if I rubbed along the metatarsal, that triggered a dull pain, and my foot felt the “buzzy” feeling I recognized as inflammation. I was convinced I had broken that foot.
My more sensible nature made a deal with me. If the foot was still hurting by the following week, I’d make a doctor appointment. One day before the deadline, the foot stopped hurting, and has been fine, with only a few random twinges, ever since.
Last Sunday, hubby and I went to a local fair. The fair, a fundraiser for the Jaycee’s, takes place on a large open plot on the edge of town. The walk from the parking lot was quite a hike in itself, and the walk to the junior rodeo being held in conjunction with the fair was down a slight but bumpy incline with irregular footing, and of course, we walked the entire fairground before taking a seat in the music tent. Still, my feet felt merely tired, not sore, when I got home. So I went ahead with plans to go walking with a friend at the mall the next day, and the day after that I went grocery shopping.
Wednesday my left foot felt sore. The pain was located just below my ankle, but again, the metatarsal seemed like the trigger point and even a small amount of walking around the house caused pain that took a long time after I sat down again to go away. I was sure I had re-fractured the foot.
Again I made a deal with myself: keep off the foot and see how it feels Monday. Today it is back to normal.
I tell myself it’s normal to feel uneasy after the bad experience I had. Twice now I’ve walked around on broken bones for over a month before getting help. I don’t want to make that mistake again. Another break in the same spot is likely to mean surgery, and considering my experience scarring up after my toe joint replacement, I’d prefer to avoid that. At the same time, the more I stay off my feet, the weaker my muscles will get and that will leave my bones less protected, not more. So I’m like Goldilocks in orthopedic shoes, relying on trial and error to find the amount of movement that is “just right”.
Let's hope the bears don't get me.