Thursday, December 27, 2012

Feet First

In less than three weeks I will endure yet another surgery on my foot, the left again. For a variety of reasons, the right foot needed immediate attention back in 2010, so I put off the same bunion surgery on the left until 2011. As the swelling in that foot eventually abated, it became clear that the metal plate the podiatrist inserted to fuse two large tarsal bones together was problematic. I don't feel anything when I'm walking, but running is another matter entirely.

What I feel when I run isn't pain, but it is discomfort, and often it radiates from the point of contact on top of the foot to my arch. It hasn't been enough of an issue that I have stopped running, but it isn't an ideal situation either. And so, the doctor and I decided it would be best to remove the plate entirely, which is happening in a 10-minute procedure on Tuesday, Jan. 15.
My left foot, plate and screws obvious.

I suppose there is no good time for a runner to be laid up, but in Central New York in winter, it's a safe bet that any outdoor running won't exactly reap much benefit. My first question to him was, naturally, "What's the recovery time?" One month. I can swim after two weeks, and should be able to practice yoga and at least lift weights for the upper body and keep working my core soon after the surgery.

He doesn't want the incision getting wet and, as for the running, the four tiny screws holding that plate in place (though they don't look tiny in the X-rays at left) will leave four tiny holes in my bones. "If it were anyone else," he advised, "I wouldn't worry about it, but you put an awful lot of stress on your feet."

Ha! You have no idea, doc; no idea.

And so I am averaging 25 miles a week leading up to the fateful day, and wishing I could bottle my fitness so when it's time to venture forth again in February, I just uncork and go! Once again, early-winter races will be pushed aside until 2014, but I've already registered for the Buffalo Half Marathon on May 26, and the Keuka Lake Sprint Triathlon on June 2, so I'm looking at substantial goals to train for. Not sure if the 10-mile, May 5 Mountain Goat is possibile; I'll wait and see.

Let's hope this is the end of the podiatry saga that has consumed my life these last three years. But as I tell anyone who asks, don't put off bunion surgery--I did until serious damage was done to my feet--the second toe on my right foot, the one that was dislocated by the big toe the bunion had pushed into it--will never recover; I just tolerate the issues, and endure an occasional cortisone shot.

And as for those who tell me to stop running--be gone! My PR days are likely behind me, but that doesn't mean my running days have passed me by. It's still fun to compete (and I do OK in my age group), and that's what's important.