Monday, December 21, 2009

Hitting A Nerve

Today someone really hit a nerve of mine. If it wasn't for the fact that I'm in actual pain, it probably would not have hit me so hard.

My childhood was pretty normal. I played and did normal childhood things. I thought I was relatively normal. Well with the exception of having had encephalitis as a toddler and having to have corrective footwear to learn to walk again.

But then there was my sisters, who told me all sorts of things. They liked to tell me I was adopted, and as much as I wished that might be the case, we looked way too much alike for me to swallow it. They'd tell me that I almost killed my mother. That carrying me almost cost her her life and that I stole from her her ability to have more children. They told me many cruel things.

So when they told me that there was something wrong with me from birth. That the doctor had told mom there was something wrong with me. They said I was supposed to be tall (which I relatively am) and that I'd probably make a good athlete .. well except for one thing.. which they were never to tell me. Mom said I wasn't to know, as she didn't want me to think I was handicapped. I wasn't sure I believed them.

I grew up with spontaneous shooting pain coming from my foot now and then. When I complained to my mother (a nurse), she would tell me I was fine and to just "buckup camper" or something similar. My sisters would call me a cry baby. Generally the pain was fleeting, only excruciating for a minute then it'd be tender for a few.. then I'd be fine. I trusted my mother, and over the years just assumed that this was normal and that I was just a wimp.

My feet always seemed more sore than everyone else's. Others seemed to be able to walk around all day then go out at night, and after a 6 hour shift my feet would be really sore and I'd be dead tired. I'd hear my sister's voices in my head of "Oh you're just lazy" or "Quit your whining"... and push myself to do more.

I love going on nature walks, dancing, and some sports (the ones I play, not the ones you watch), but as much as I loved it.. I found myself starting to hate it, and began relating exercise with pain and agony.

But it wasn't until I was 30 that I finally went to see a doctor about it. I was forced to do it as my work (Pharmacy Tech standing on hard cement for 8 hours) was going to 10 hour shifts and I would need a doctors note to remain at 8 hour shifts. I loved my job, but I was in so much pain after 8 hours that the thought of 10 hour shifts nearly brought tears.

I had no idea what doctor to see, because I had no idea what was really wrong. So I went in to a rheumatologist, because I figured maybe it was early arthritis onset due to the damage of encephalitis as a toddler. They pretty much refused to help me, but told me to see a podiatrist. aka "We think you're a fat lazy slob and nothings wrong with you, but to cover our asses go see someone else."

So I research podiatrists. I want to make sure I'm actually going to get some help. I go to one, and she's nice. She takes some ex-rays. Pokes at my feet. Tells me I need to stay off my feet for a while, and prescribes some "boots" to wear to help my feet heal and gives me a doctors note for work.

I wear the boots for one day and I'm ready to amputate my legs because it might be less painful. So I go back into her. She can't believe that I'm in that much pain, as the boots weren't supposed to hurt. (yeah right, those boots were evil) So she sets me up with an MRI appointment.

I go in for the follow up, and she looks at me like "OMG how are you walking?" but she's trying to cover it up. She tells me that with all the swelling, and bruising that didn't show up on the xray, she's seeing on the MRI that I need to be on complete bedrest for an entire month, maybe two. She tells me I have a calcaneo-navicular coalition.

Yeah I didn't know what that was either, so she explained. She pointed to a chart with bones of the feet.

"This bone here, and this bone here are held together by a joint. That joint is the basic structure of the foot and the arch. You're missing that joint, and when you walk around those bones just bang together. So your muscles are the sole reason you have an arch at all, and they're working double duty. Which is why your calf is so large."

I've always had large calves. Large, 100% muscle calves. Now I know why. Unfortunately that means I can't diet or exercise them smaller. Damn.

She continues that its a birth defect that I've had since birth, and something that they look for in newborns. That the obstetrician should have informed my mother of it when I was born.

In many ways, I understand why my mother didn't tell me. She claims now not to have known btw. But had I known, I'd have been able to do my life differently. I'd have had more drive for a job that I could physically do.. like office work or computer science.

I spent the next few months wrapping my head around things, healing, and relearning to walk without pain. It took me nearly 5 months to be able to stand up for 4 hours a day (that includes walking, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc). My doctor is amazed that I don't have any major knee problems or back problems... yet anyway.

I have to keep on top of taking care of my feet. Meaning rest. Arch supports. Moderation with activity. To keep from being in pain and damaging my body any more.

So when I mention this online to a new online friend, and he replies: "You can rest when you're dead."

All the past of "You're lazy" "Quit your whining" and "Buckup Camper" come flooding through my mind... and I wonder when will people actually trust me that I know WTF I'm talking about? and that I'm doing what I need to do for my body's long term health?

He hit a nerve.. and I know he didn't mean to.. but it doesn't hurt any less.


Ethan Moore said...

This article is perfect for a thread I'm developing on my blog entitled "That's Not Normal!". The thread consist of stories of people who dealt with hidden medical conditions that went undiscovered for much of their lives. I've posted a link to this article in an article on my blog.

I eventually hope to spin this blog thread off to a separate website, and I might want to repost this (with proper attribution and links) or include a version of this tailored to that site. Please contact me to discuss that.

Ethan Moore said...

Corrected address for article

purple_kangaroo said...

My mother was told she was missing a bone in her foot, too. I'm sorry it took so long to find out, and for all the "buckup" types of things you experienced before that happened. ((hugs))

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