For over thirty years I have been a dancer. Scottish Country Dancing-Check. English Morris Dancing-Check. New England Contradancing, English Country Dancing, Irish Dancing, International Folk Dancing, Ballroom Dancing, Ballet-Check. I love to dance. It makes me feel alive in a way not much else does.
I have also been a backpacker, hiker, walker, and more. I have trekked the Himalayas and visited one of the fourteeners in Southern Colorado. I have hiked in Southeast Asia, the Andes, Ecuador, and the Galapagos Islands. Hiking is a part of my life here in the United States and Canada. I love to hike.
For the past two-plus years I have been dealing with foot issues. First, my left ankle became swollen and sore. The side of my ankle blew up and, for a while, I could not find my ankle bone. Finally with the help of Chiropractics, Physical Therapy, Active Release Technique, Acupuncture, and Myofascial Release I discovered my ankle bone again. The swelling and intermittent pain never went away and remains today.
A year later my right heel developed swelling in a funny area. I continued with all the above treatments and it made it better but it did not go away. On bad days I put it in a boot. Everything made it better but the underlying issue never went away.
When I returned to San Diego in November I decided it was time to talk to my internist. I decided to get western medicine involved. After a set of foot and ankle x-rays, I have a diagnosis. It appears I have chronic Tendonosis from over-use. Well yeah! They also found a type of bone spur called Haglund’s Deformity. It is an abnormality of the foot bone and soft tissues. An enlargement of the bony section of the heel triggers this condition. It frequently can cause bursitis of the soft tissue and swelling of the Achilles tendon insertion point. The doctor told me that it may be genetic and often starts as a bone spur.
How do they treat it? Well, it is something that I will most likely have to live with for the rest of my life. The main treatment is to treat the symptoms.
- Wear Orthotics
- Use Heel Lifts
- Ice it once a day
- Perform stretching exercises daily
- If it is really sore stay off of it
- I walk with hiking poles all the time now. It helps redistribute the weight and I am able to still get exercise.
What happens if all this fails? Surgery. Each heel would take about a year to heal. Sigh.
Here is what I do know. I will most likely never dance again. It will irritate the condition and make it worse. Oh, Huge Giant Sigh. I am able to walk but not distance like I used to and I am slower. When my ankle or ankles act up I take a day off and give them a rest.
I know that many of you may wonder why I am writing about this. I have been going through grief for the loss of a lifestyle. Yes, I do know there are many who are worse off than me. I get that and I understand. But this is about me and it is a focus of my life at the moment and I am worried and concerned. And I am sad. Things are changing and it is going to take me time to adapt.
I need to allow myself to grieve and hopefully, my friends are able to understand this is normal and support me in this process. I don’t need to be told that I am strong and will adjust. I don’t want my friends to blow this off as something minor. I don’t need people reminding me of how I used to be. Telling me that I used to be such a good hiker does not help me now. For me, at the moment in time, this is a major event in my life. And I am adjusting to change.
What can my friends do to help?
- Love me just the way I am.
- When friends and I go for a three-mile hike (with poles) know that you might have to hike slower and not go as far. Save your hard hike for another time and let’s enjoy each other’s company.
- Don’t remind me of what I used to be able to do, I am fully aware of this.
- Informing me that I will adapt, does not help.
- Please don’t tell me the horror stories of others. Positivity is a plus.
- Know that I am on it as far as deciding what will work and what will not work for me.
- Be patient and be kind.
This is a good reminder for me to be gentle and loving with others. None of us know fully what others are going through unless we have the inside story and even then we may not know the extent of emotions that are running through another persons life. My feet are reminding me once again to be patient and kind and to listen, really listen to my friends and to others.
I am limping into my 70’s, literally. I am still a full and functioning human being with much to be thankful for. The limping could certainly go away and I would be so appreciative if it did. I am working on it and still moving forward. I mean what else can I do? Staying frozen in time has never worked for anyone. Even if it is with a limp, I will continue to move forward to whatever door opens next.
Today I am thankful. I am thankful for all those years of dancing and the joy it brings to me. I am thankful for hiking and at the moment I am really thankful for hiking poles. I am thankful for the doctors that can help me diagnose my lovely feet and ankles. Today I am thankful for acknowledging grief and being with it so I can move through this phase and move on to my next adventure in life.