Jun
2015

summer of healing: procedures

As my previous post mentioned, this tendonitis issue has been around since the summer of 2013. That June I took an amazing trip to Greece and after a very long hiking day on Kea I decided to abandon my muddied up Nikes. I wore flip flops for the rest of the trip and didn’t have a care in the world, as you can see from the picture below.

If I knew then what I know now…

#tbt to June 2013 on the island of Kea, Greece. Last trip my feet worked (hence the flip flops). #tendonitis #summerofhealing 👣

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Before I get into the emotions associated with chronic pain, which it looks like will have to be a post of its own, I’ve decided to include some pics from the past few months to document what my medical visits look like:

1. Ten weeks ago I put on the boot cast. Only this week can I say that I see a future without it (depending on how long the walk is.) My physical therapist suggested weaning myself off it by not wearing it in the house and that’s been working. I also found out last weekend that when I do go back into the boot for longer periods of time, my foot gets very annoyed.

Gonna be a Boot Babe for a few weeks. Hopeful it will heal me! #tendonitis

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2. This will be round 4 of Physical Therapy for me. The first three included strengthening exercises and iontophoresis patches, but now that I’ve reduced the inflammation thanks to the bootcast, we have to focus on returning to weight-bearing movements and building up the calf muscle I lost. I’ve been in the pool for aquatic therapy for the past 3 weeks, which has coincided nicely with the Mayo Clinic’s summer offering of Aqua Zumba. All the pool time has been great and, I have to say, having the time to do this over summer break has re-energized me. During the semester it was tough coordinating my teaching, administrative duties, service, and research with various doctor’s visits; hence, the #summerofhealing.

This round of physical therapy gets me all the cool gadgets! #icemachine #tendonitis #posttib

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Got Graston? #tendonitis #summerofhealing

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Ultrasound Friday #tendonitis #summerofhealing

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3. Custom orthotics are supposed to be the best for issues like mine and last longer than over-the-counter ones, even though they take some time to break in. Here’s a pic of the plaster fitting I had in May. Powersteps worked for me in the meantime, especially since my new doctor took one look at the first custom pair I had and remarked that other than cockroaches they would be the only things to survive a nuclear holocaust. (Again, booooooooo first doctor for recommending those rigid torture devices!)

orthotics take 2

 

I received the softer and gentler finished product in the mail last week and just wore them for a few hours today. So far, so good.

 ***

So what’s the prognosis? Honestly, I’m not sure. I’m doing all the right things. I’m resting whenever possible, which means saying “no” to lots of social things, and doing all my exercises religiously. I hope and pray to return to campus in September walking normally and not having to explain why I take the stairs sideways (ala an old Hollywood musical) or one at a time.

The best outcome would be for me to be able to say in a few years, “Remember that time my tendons hated me and I couldn’t walk? God, that sucked. Thank goodness I don’t have to deal with that anymore!”

I’m cautiously optimistic about that, but a girl can dream…

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Jun
2015

summer of healing: background

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you’ll see a number of my recent posts hashtagged “#summerofhealing.”

As I’ve blogged here before, over the past couple years my long history as a ballet and folk dancer and more recent work as a Zumba Fitness instructor caught up with me and posterior tibial tendonitis has taken over my life. And that is not an exaggeration. There were times of relief, and I even traveled to Australia last year, but once I was back from that trip ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE. I had been fitted for some rigid custom orthotics and those ended up hurting rather than helping, likely because of an extra bone or “accessory navicular” I have.

xray

Look at me! I’m causing you all sorts of trouble!

Since September, I’ve slowed down in e-v-e-r-y w-a-y possible. I stopped teaching at the gym and pretty much stay home whenever I can. I did travel for a quick conference in Denver, to NOLA at Christmas, and recently to Florida to visit a friend, but none of these trips (purposefully) included much walking. In fact, I’ll only consider myself healed when I can go to New York and walk the streets of Manhattan in search of bagels! More in a separate post on how this chronic pain has changed my everyday routine, but first I want to give you a brief rundown about what I’ve learned:

  1. Find a good doctor. Not one whose visits last less than 15-minutes and who doesn’t even touch your foot or ask you to stand or walk. I put up with one guy for longer than I should have, likely because I was scared of bad news. So while the “no news” and tests to eliminate other causes/issues seemed like moves in the right direction, I wasted valuable months of healing time. For example, once we did get an MRI done last November, which showed some fluid in the ankle and inflammation, I should have been put in a bootcast, but I wasn’t until this April when a second MRI proved that fluid was still there and that there was no tendon tear or degeneration. It could have been the #winterofhealing, but instead, here we are.
  2. Get a second opinion. Now this seems obvious, but it was only after talking to friends and family that I started looking for someone else, someone who specialized in sports and dance injuries. Getting appointments with these folks took some time and at one point I had a long 2 months of waiting between appointments, but once I did see them and started to get answers, I knew I could put a recovery plan in motion. In fact, while the aforementioned first doctor interpreted the MRI as “your tendon is fine,” the two new ones (separate practices in separate states) both agreed that the tendon sheath was inflamed. That alone, a name to the problem, put my mind at ease, although it’s still a long road to normal activity.
  3. Try new methods of healing. Other than rest, icing, compression socks, elevation, and ibuprofen (also known as Pills+RICE), I now own a foam roller, a foot roller, tons of Epsom Salts, and have been to countless acupuncture, massage, & ultrasound appointments. Even though there’s no magic fix, these methods have helped me on a day-to-day basis, even if just to get the blood flowing. I know I’ve been so scared of pain or reinjury that at times I freeze and don’t move at all, but that only makes things worse.
  4. Foot pain is the worst! Well, anyone experiencing any kind of pain will say that about their condition, but I truly feel foot pain is the worst because you can’t get anywhere quickly. (Hell, only now am I beginning to feel comfortable standing whereas last year at this time I was teaching 3 yoga classes a week!) Unless you’ve been put in a cast or wheelchair, the feet never truly get a chance to rest. As a professor, I like to walk around the classroom, but this Spring I sat A LOT, although my students totally understood. I was spoiled in having to only be in one building this semester, with a husband to drop me off right at its front door, but going from a super active lifestyle to making decisions based on how many steps I have to take has been eye-opening.

With that final statement, my next few posts will reflect more on the ups and downs of chronic pain, but I hope you’ve learned a little about what my year has been like.

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