Friday, November 23, 2012

Tests, appointments and waiting....oh my!

The past month has been a jumble of appointments, tests and waiting for results. It's been hectic and some of the tests were very uncomfortable but at least now we are headed in the right direction with my health and hopefully will have me back on track soon.

It all started a couple of months ago when I started having extreme pain in my legs and feet. This pain would come on when I exercised, when I walked any sort of distance and especially when I would try to sleep at night. It got the the point where I wasn't falling asleep until 2 or 3 in the mornings and getting up at 6am. It was not healthy and I knew something had to be done.

I started with a visit to my primary care doctor and explained my situation to her. She began ordering tests immediately. I was tested for diabetes, which came up negative. My thyroid was tested and the results came back completely normal and healthy. I had an X-Ray of my back and it was found that I have degenerative arthritis in the lower lumbar region. That was more than likely one of the causes of my back pain and could possibly be causing my leg pain, however more tests must be done. I had a nerve conductive study done for my legs and feet to see if I had nerve damage in my lower extremities. This test consisted of them shocking me with electricity to see if my nerves were functioning properly. Even though the current was tiny it still kinda hurt. Then I had needles that are similar to acupuncture needles, inserted into my nerve bundles so the doctor could listen to them to see if they were firing correctly with stimulation. This process sucked and it hurt pretty badly. Well I do not have nerve damage but it was discovered that I am missing the reflex in my right ankle area. It's simply non existent, which is rare. Even people who have damaged their ankles, have a slow reflex where I have zero on that side. My legs ached for most of that day but at least I knew I didn't have nerve damage.

I had a circulatory test run to make sure I didn't have any blockage or blood flow issues. My circulatory system is in perfect healthy with no blockages or slowing of any of the arteries.

I just recently had the MRI done on my lower lumbar region in order to determine just how advanced the degenerative arthritis is. I'm hoping it's in it's early stages and with proper exercise and back strengthening I can quell the symptoms and continue to be as active as I was previous to all these tests.

That brings me to my podiatrist. I have seen both of the podiatrists in the office I go to and they are both not only knowledgeable but extremely nice and funny. My first visit was to determine if I had any problems with my feet. The moment I started describing my symptoms the doctor was shaking his head and he knew exactly what my problem was. He then did an ultrasound of my feet to see if his hypothesis was right and it was. I have a condition called plantar fasciitis. That is when there is damage to the connective tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot from the heel to the toes. What the ultrasound revealed was that I had extreme inflammation and that was the culprit of my awful foot pain and inability to exercise or walk distances. A normal measurement for the plantar fascia tissue is around 2cm. My left foot was over 4cm and my right foot was almost 7cm. He said he was surprised I could walk at all on that right foot. My treatment began immediately. I was given plenty of information packets about the condition. I was given a cortisone shot in each foot to help with the swelling (oh my lord this was painful, needles in my feet no thank you!!!!) . I was given my lovely boots that I needed to wear 4 hours a day in order to take the pressure of the plantar fascia and give it time to be in a neutral position so it could heal. Then a follow up appointment was made and I was sent on my way.

My follow up appointment with the podiatrist was not near as scary and I had lots of questions for him since I was too taken aback at my first appointment to even think of questions let alone ask them. I was at a point where I don't have to wear the boots for 4 hours a day anymore, I just need to wear them when I have time or when I have flare ups and need to rest my feet. The more time I spend in the boots though, the healthier my plantar fascia tissue will be. (did I mention I really really really hate those stupid strappy boots from hell?) I was also cast for orthotics which luckily my insurance covers. I will have my super custom orthotics in approximately 4-6 weeks. In the meantime I will have to continue to do my stretching exercises, wear my boots as needed and invest in decent supportive footwear that I will eventually be putting my orthotic in. Plantar fasciitis is a condition that will go away with the proper preventative measures. If you don't take care of your feet, the condition will flare up and you will be miserable again, plain and simple. I now have the tools to take care of my feet properly and I will be doing so because I don't want shots in my feet ever again!

On a good note I was told that I could go ahead and start exercising again. If it was something that involved impact on my feet I'd have to take it slow and only do about 1/2 of what I was doing previously. No marathon running or super trail hiking for me just yet. I need to stick to machines with low to no impact like the elliptical or arc trainer. This means that all upper body workouts not requiring me to use my feet for anything other than a base to stand on are OK for me to do. This was a huge deal to me for many reasons. I haven't been to the gym since the first week of September so all the weight I had lost is slowly starting to creep back on. I also suffer from seasonal depression which hits me right around this time of year and lasts until Spring. I refuse to sit around feeling anxious and depressed all winter this year, I want to be able to work out and get healthy so when Spring comes I can take part in all those fun warm weather activities. I also know that if I lose more weight that my feet will have less to carry around and be burdened with and that will make the plantar fasciitis much less of a worry for me in the future.

I have answers to all those questions I had and now I know what to do in order to ensure that my future is a healthy one.

No comments: