Today was supposed to be THE DAY. The day that I had my follow up xray, that I get good news, the fracture has healed, and I get to leave the boot behind. I was so looking forward to my run tomorrow. I had already planned my weekend. 3-4 miles both days, and a bike ride on Sunday. In my mind, I imagined the photos I'd snap for the blog and my facebook page! Me in my running shoes, me running! Throwing away the boot!
Well, of course, none of that happened. Except that I did get my xray. This morning, I was all optimistic. I put the boot on and slipped my left shoe into my bag when I left for work. My first patient wasn't scheduled until 840am, so I headed up to the radiology department and joked with the tech that I would be the oldest patient she saw all day. Since I work in pediatrics, my joke wasn't a stretch. After she took the films, I ran into the radiologist, who offered to review my pictures with me. I was thrilled. I gave him a brief history of my injury, my chronic pain in the big toe, and he looked at the images.
He turned to me, and told me he didn't have good news for me. Even I before he told me, I looked at the view of my big toe joint and could see that the fracture hadn't healed. I frowned. He looked more closely at the joint, and pointed out what he said was also an old fracture or a bony cyst. He also found a fracture in one of the sesamoid bones--he wasn't sure how old the fracture was, but that really explained a lot of the pain I've been having. Basically, there were lots of bad things going on with my foot. We talked for a while, and he gave me his recommendations. The boot was going nowhere. He suggested I see an orthopedic surgeon to discuss my options. He also recommended a bone density study. Later, when the sports med doc called me, he concurred with everything the radiologist told me.
I went back down to my clinic and told everyone the news. I do work with the nicest people, and I got lots of sympathy. I felt really sad. But I still had my job to do, patients to see. I went in to see my first patient of the day. And another. And another. All of them asked about my foot. The kids made me laugh.
The best part about working in pediatrics is that you can't feel too bad about your problems for very long. The kids, by and large, will make you smile. And really, to keep it in perspective, a broken foot? While for me, a runner, it sucks, I see kids with so many serious health problems that being with them helps me minimize my pain. It's hard to feel sorry for yourself when you are surrounded by sick kids. Who mostly have the best attitudes. Because they're kids, and they don't know any better!
At lunch, one of my partners stopped by my office to talk with me about my foot. He told me the radiologist came by to drop off a CD of my xrays to take to the orthopedic surgeon. "Let's see that xray", he told me.
I love this guy. He's in his mid 60s, an old hippy with a gray ponytail and a heart of gold. He loves to bike and camp, and often stops me in the hall to have some deep, philosophical discussion about the state of medicine or about some odd situation he or I encountered that day in the clinic. We opened up the xray, and he was much more optimistic about the fracture than the radiologist.
"It's healing," he said. "It just needs more time." Those words warmed my heart. We talked a lot about cycling, and he recommended that I get cycling shoes and clips. He told me it would help my mechanics and take some of the load off my feet. We talked about me seeing the orthopod, and he thought he knew him, thought he would be a good guy for me to see.
He also gave me a backhanded compliment. "I don't know if it is stubborness or what", he said, "but that you ran on that foot for so long without getting it checked...well, it shows a lot of toughness. You're no wimp," he said.
Guts or glory? You know what? Running did this to me, but it did this for me. It made me strong. I'm really grateful for that. Will this strength sustain me through yet another injury and recovery period? Let's see what I'm made of. I'll keep you posted.