When Statler, our black cat starts winding around my feet, I know he’s wanting some love. Some “mommy pick me up and cuddle” time. As soon as I do, his paws start opening wide, then closing right. I call this his “happy feet”.
This week, I also have happy feet, for the first time in years. I was born with my right foot twisted in towards my left. It was corrected with braces before my memories begin. Over the years, I had to wear “corrective” shoes. They were ugly, expensive and invariably made my long flat feet look even bigger than life. For a few years in my early twenties, I tried wearing ballet style shoes, and heels. That didn’t last long, as the pronation caused ankle pain. To a podiatrist I went and I have worn orthotic inserts ever since. They would relive the pain for a few years. When the pain returned, I would try a different style of orthotics. Sports shoes were my life, but I wanted to wear sandals during the summer with dresses. I took a few summers wearing sandals, and seemed to do OK. It’s probably good we have short summers here.
Anyway, over the last three or four years, I noticed a bone had shifted in my arch area. I began had a three month episode of crushing pain at the end of the day that would cause me to limp horribly. Not good for the back or hips or knees. I could no longer wear my Birkenstock’s, as that dropped bone hit the arch area hard, and it was downright painful. The pain in the inner ankle continued to increase, making walking uncomfortable. I began to limit my activity around the house and property, and stopped walking with friends. I went through several sets of orthotics during that time, each set working for a while, but the pain eventually returning. Soon, I began experiencing unbearable pain with my first dozen steps each morning. After a bit of research, I decided to sleep in a plantar fasciitis brace. It keeps your foot flexed at a bit over 90 degrees. I figured if the tendon was shrinking at night being relaxed, and the pain was from re-stretching it, then keeping it in a semi stretched position would help. It did. No more pain in the morning. The daily pain continued to increase. I went to one foot doctor who listened to my symptoms, looked at my X-rays, but never touched my foot, only to tell me that it was just a matter of time before I would need surgery. No compassion, no intermediate options presented. The other day, I went to another foot doctor, basically to be told that I just needed better orthotics, and he could sell them to me because the ones I was wearing were crap. I asked about options, specifically if physical therapy could help. He pooo-pooed it and said it was structural, better orthotics would fix everything.
I left his office in tears feeling without any hope for a pain free future. I decided to make an appointment with a physical therapist any way to ask if it could help my condition. While we talked, the therapist worked my foot, twisting it, pushing on bones, etc. She said it was definitely a good fit and recommended an exercise and dry needling (acupuncture) to relax the muscle the tendon was attached to. I said I would do anything. By the time my first session was done, the dropped bone was up again, not to its original position, but definitely better. The muscle in my calf felt beat up, and I had a tight piece of tape around my foot, which was uncomfortable. She said that because I have always had a structural issue, we probably couldn’t get it back to 100%, but could get it at least 50-75% better. I couldn’t stop the tears of joy. The best thing I left with that day was hope.
Twenty four hours later, the tape has relaxed and doesn’t hurt anymore, my calf feels great, and I walked up the stairs on my toes again, not flat footed like I have had to for the last few months. Monday I get my current orthotics adjusted for my new foot structure, and I have happy feet too! The pain has been minimal today, and I have hope. My attitude has changed, I am not consumed with worry about whether I will be able to walk next year, and I feel like a weight has been lifted from me. My soul is at peace. I even slept better last night.
Hope is a powerful thing. I pray that you can find hope for whatever it is that you are worried about, and that your soul can find peace in hope, and that you can have Happy Feet today!