Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Curious Incident of the Toe in the Nighttime*

Long-time readers of the blog know that for the past couple of years, I have been plagued by foot issues. For the past year, it's been plantar fasciitis that has kept me sidelined. Prior to that, I had stress fractures in both feet and issues with my big toe joints. Everything has been behaving itself lately and I was so happy to run my most recent half marathon pain-free! In fact, my feet felt so good that the night after the race, they were up for a night out of dancing and karaoke.

But a runner should never become too complacent, right? For fear of awakening that sleeping giant in my feet, I am diligent about using my Spenco Insoles**, rotating my shoes regularly, doing my foot exercises, and backing off on my miles when needed. It's been a recipe for success.

Until it hasn't.



After our girls' trip to Florida, Marcia and I arrived back in Chicago late Sunday night. My oldest son was at the airport and he whisked me home. I wondered where he learned to drive like that. As I lay in bed, reminiscing about the weekend, I had trouble falling asleep. I had taken Monday off work and had planned to go to Megan's yoga class, but I was just exhausted. Me, skip yoga? I did go to Wednesday's class with my new instructor, and we did some long, slow poses that stretched everything out.


On Tuesday, I got in 4 miles before work. There was snow on the ground. Florida, I miss you. I also got in another cold, 6 mile snowy run on Thursday. That run was brutal, cold temps with 25 mph winds. I pushed through it and went to see Becky for my weekly cross training session. We're working on some preliminary stuff for my next strength session, which we are starting in January. She had me do some cleans to squats and other assorted glute and hammy strengtheners. As I usually do when I see Becky, I left feeling badass and strong.


Without warning, that sleeping giant in my right big toe woke me up in the middle of that night. Imagine waking up to the sensation of something hot and fiery stabbing you in the big toe. It was so painful, in fact, that even the sheet touching my toe caused me to cringe. My foot was throbbing. The burning sensation reminded me of those ridiculously dramatic shingles commercials. You know, the ones where Terry Bradshaw describe the pain like "someone dropped a bag of hot coals" on his back?

Terry, I felt you that night.

I laid there for a while, thinking about what I did to anger my foot so much. For the life of me, I couldn't recall any pain during my run or workout. Finally, that hot coal sensation got the best of me and I hobbled down to the kitchen to take some ibuprofen and make some coffee. My husband was up. He's had gout, so he was sure that's what I had. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to go to work, but I had a full schedule of patients and needed to suck it up and get there. I got ready for work, stuffed my pincushion foot into my Danskos and prayed for the ibuprofen to give me some relief.

I also called Dr V to tell her about my latest development. When I saw her on Wednesday for my Baker's cyst, she ordered a bunch of blood work and an x-ray. At the time, she was concerned more about rheumatoid arthritis than she was about my Baker's cyst. Although I played down her concerns, in the back of my mind, I was worried too. With this latest development, she recommended a short "burst" of prednisone (a steroid) but I said no.

I run marathons! I just ran a half marathon! I'm strong! I can do this!

Post PCB flex!
I made it through the morning, but by lunch, my foot was even more swollen and painful. I sat at my desk with my foot on a garbage can and finished my notes. When I stood up, I almost cried, my foot hurt so badly. This time, I didn't protest when Dr V again mentioned the steroids. By the time I got home from work, my foot was so swollen that my toes looked like little cocktail sausages. My husband had the pizza on the table and the wine poured when I walked in the door. He's a good man.

My foot felt better on Saturday but was still so swollen I had trouble getting my shoe on. When I got to work, I called the lab and asked them to fax me my blood test results--ah, the privilege of working as a health care provider. Only a few of the tests were back, but I learned what I needed to know. What I already knew. The rheumatoid factor was off the charts. I fought back tears.

Yep. And now the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. I have rheumatoid arthritis.


I think back over the past couple of years. The "stress fracture" in my big toe that wasn't a stress fracture at all, but diagnosed as "arthritis". Plantar fasciitis multiple times. Being told by a massage therapist several years ago that something "bad" was going on in my big toe joint.

It all makes sense now.

I plan to approach this just like I train for a race. I will gladly continue the steroids for a couple more days. I'm going to set something up with a rheumatologist and make a game plan. Dr V told me that I'm lucky to be so active. That I'm already ahead of the game. That this won't limit me.

Oh hell no, it won't. I've got my bike loaded in the trainer and I'll ride until I can run again. My bike missed me. The road misses me too, though. There's fresh snow on the ground and I love nothing more than a snow run.

You know what I really think? It's not great news, yes, I'm sad, but it could always be worse. I've got a marathon to run in June. I plan to crush expectations. I'm not ready to hang it up. I've got a lot of running to do! Heck, I've got a lot of living to do!

Oh, and that x-ray? According to the radiologist, I have the "knees of a 20 year old". So I've got that going for me. Running is bad for your knees? I don't think so...

Feet don't fail me now...

This is a hell of a weekly wrap, isn't it? I hope your week was better. Tell me something good.

*with apologies to Mark Haddon
**affiliate link

I'm linking up with Holly and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap. And with Angela and Ilka for the Sunday Fitness and Food Linkup.

110 comments :

  1. Oh Wendy! I'm sorry. BUT answers are GOOD! And from what I know of you ... you will kick rheumatoids ASS! *hugs*

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm so sorry to hear this Wendy, but I know if anyone can tackle it, it's you. Sending big hugs and positive vibes your way!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll take all and any positive vibes. Hugs are nice too!

      Delete
  3. Oh Wendy. That stinks. I have been waiting to hear those words. I do have psoriatic arthritis, which can really suck at times. You of all people know - just keep moving!! I have also been eliminating inflammatory foods from my diet and it is helping. My Aunt Rita had RA and was an example of how I do NOT want to live life. Gram was a great example of how to live with RA and make the very best of things. ❤

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought of you--you don't let PA stop you at all. Grandma was so stoic. You'd never know she was in pain.

      Do you get infusions?

      Delete
    2. I do. Every 8 weeks, Remicade. I took enbrel for a long time. I was always mildly nauseous and after lots of tests we decided it was from the injection. I do methotrexate 1x weekly and the infusion. I find my symptoms are very cyclical with my menstrual cycle. My pain level is highest a few days before, I am really tired and have zero stamina. It is like clockwork. My best advice is stay consistent with whatever you find works for you, stay active and find a rheumatologist you like. ❤

      Delete
    3. I have a great recommendation..I'll call her tomorrow. Everything I read says I need to get in there ASAP. Fingers crossed. Thanks for the advice. I'll be asking you lots... <3

      Delete
  4. So sorry to hear this. If anyone can beat this, you can. You are strong.

    Besides the marathon, you have to be healthy for more girls race cations and karaoke

    ReplyDelete
  5. Freaking sucks!! I don't know much about rheumatoid arthritis. Could you do a post an explain what exactly that is. Can it hit some joints and not others? What causes it? How can you stop it, slow it, stop it from hurting?? I know, so many questions!! What can WE do so we don't get it... or is it genetic??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Once I see the rheumatologist, I'll know more. But RA is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints, mostly the hands and feet. It really makes sense when I look back on the issues I've had with my feet the last couple of years. It can be controlled with some preventative immunosuppression meds. I'll share more as I learn more.

      Delete
  6. Damn Wendy I'm really sorry to hear this. I also know that you are too strong to let this stop you! Sending lots of hugs!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It sucks but it could be worse, for sure.

      Delete
  7. BLESS, girl! You and Suz are my "Here's my problem, and here's how I'm going to destroy it with fire" friends. You will find a way to stay on your feet, no matter how many challenges you may face with them. Prayers of comfort and healing heading your way!

    ReplyDelete
  8. So sorry to hear this! BUT...an answer, at last! You'll stay on top of things and keep your flare-ups at a minimum, I'm sure. Knees of a 20 year old? Yes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm going with that--I like to think I'm young...

      Delete
  9. Oh man! Definitely not want you wanted to hear. I love your perspective... you're right, it could be worse. And there are some helpful things you can do (up the Omega 3s for inflammation and eat more anti-inflammatory foods)... plus, it's pretty amazing that your knees are in such good shape!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe the Omega-3s that I take have already helped keep this beast at bay? I'll do whatever it takes to stay on top of it. More to come...

      Delete
  10. This felt like a slap in the face to me when you texted so I can only imagine what it felt like first hand. That said, I know you. Yeah it's not optimal but as you said, not the worst either. You'll find a way around this too. That's what life is about. Finding our strong and you've got yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I go from angry to stunned to sad to fuck this in a matter of minutes. After visiting my friends who have cancer yesterday, I also realize that it could be so much worse. And how about the irony of those bracelets I brought to Florida: Never Give Up? No how, no way.

      Delete
  11. So sorry to hear about this diagnosis. Hopefully answers, healing and recovery will fall into place now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All I want to do is keep running. The rest will fall into place, right?

      Delete
  12. Well, I didn't have a great week but I'm definitely going with my week was better. And I didn't have to DNS last night's run.

    Wendy, I'm sorry -- that really stinks (and I have to admit gout jumped into my mind, but that's because of my husband, too -- gout probably would be easier).

    Sending you lots of healing vibes & running vibes! I know you will get back out there & crush your goals. You deserve it -- you've had a heck of a year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lots of ups and downs for sure this year!

      Delete
  13. I'm so sorry to hear this Wendy! :( But what I do know is that you're a kick ass and take names type of woman, so I know you're going to get through this too!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry to hear this! I know you will get through it, and at least you have some answers to these issues you have been having. But ugh...I just hate that you have to deal with this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too! I'll be happier once I know what the plan is. But at least I will be able to continue to run.

      Delete
  15. Sorry to hear your outcome. I have had the same diagnosis with my right toe, free getting x-rays...it bothered me for 2 years straight but has been okay go the last year (fingers crossed). My doctor told me to keep running.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you do any preventative therapies? I have a feeling they will be more aggressive with me, because of my age. Stay tuned.

      Delete
    2. Nope. She just said keep running/stay active and take Ibuprofen if you really need it.

      Delete
  16. Darn, Wendy...not what you wanted to hear, I am sure. I am really sorry. I know you will tackle this with as much energy that you do everything else in your life and you will come back and kick ass! Keep your chin up, girl.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As much as no, I didn't want to hear it, it wasn't a complete surprise. I had been having some pretty significant finger and toe aching a few weeks ago, along with a flare of my IBS. I don't usually worry about that stuff too much, but my gut told me it was something more than just aches and pains.

      Delete
    2. Wendy I'm so sorry about this diagnosis. I read your post before I started my long run this morning and I thought about you while I was running. You are such a tough cookie - you will be able to manage it. RA these days is so much better than a few years ago, you can even manage it with nutritional changes. Hugs my friend! Stay tough!!

      Delete
    3. Luckily, I eat pretty well--probably not as well as I could, but still. I think I will be ok. It just kind of sucks. Thanks for the support! I do love my running friends.

      Delete
  17. Wendy so sorry to learn of this! You are the strongest person I "know" and I have no doubt that this won't hold you back too long.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sorry too! I'll feel better once I know that a plan is in place.

      Delete
  18. Well... THAT sucks. But, I guess it's good you have answers, right? So that you can deal with it properly. Arthritis is so painful, but you are such a strong, tough chick; I have no doubt that you will blow the recovery statistics out of the water. Hope your toe settles down soon so you can get back out there. <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, me too! The prednisone wasn't as bad as I thought...while I couldn't run today, I did get out for soem XC skiing.

      And that was amazing.

      Delete
  19. Well damn, Wendy. That just stinks and I am very sorry. I know you will deal with this better than the average RA patient, but I'm still sad that you are facing this. On the plus side, hey - knees of a 20 year old!! That's freaking awesome!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, because I am sad too! I know I can tackle this like I do everything but damn!

      Delete
  20. oh Wendy I am sorry. I hope you feel some progress soon, taking out the trainer is a good idea :) I know that kind of pain, I have been there, but once the inflammation calms down you can move forward. You will run that marathon in June, no worries, it is a long way off.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a pain I've never had before! Thankfully , with the prednisone, it's calming down. Now onto the plan...

      Delete
  21. Boo with the body issues. I'm sorry to hear this. I have a friend with RA and it doesn't seem to slow her down a bit. She's super athletic and active. Hopefully you can get it under control quickly and not have to think much about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll feel better once I know what's to come. And of course, once my toe stops hurting!

      Delete
  22. WHAT????????? Oh, this is such a bummer! There are too many friends right now who are having injury issues...this is just not right. So sorry to hear this... ((hugs))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It all makes sense, tho, doesn't it? All the foot issues I've had over the past couple of years? The most recent IBS flare? Boo. But at least I have an answer.

      Delete
  23. Did something aggravate it so that all of a sudden it swelled ? Does it just come on out of the blue ?
    Something happy ?... I picked out and decorated the Xmas tree with my mom. We hadn't done that together for 20 years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It just comes on out of the blue. Altho I have had an inordinate amount of stress this year--and have felt it lately. Pretty sure that was the trigger.

      Delete
  24. Oh no! So sorry to hear! You are so strong! You will run that marathon in June! Wow, that's great news about your knees!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know me. Tell me I can't do something and I'll show you I can.

      Delete
  25. Wendy. This makes so much sense. I am so sorry that you have to deal with RA, but this just makes so much sense. I would love to know what treatment plan you guys are going to do--RA is treated very similarly to Crohn's. I know you know your stuff, but if you want to know what it is like to deal with the treatments, please don't hesitate to ask. Sending you so much love!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Doesn't it tho? And so interesting how the prednisone has also calmed down my IBS, which flared lately as well. You are my go-to for info!

      Delete
  26. At least you have a diagnosis and can work from there, although sorry its RA, but at least there is the consolation of those 20 year old knees! I did have to laugh a bit at you saying no to the steroid injection.. I was offered that for my shoulder when it was hurting so bad too and was like "NO" healthcare professionals can be the worst to treat. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! An injection I would have said yes to--no, I said no to the steroid burst. But I am taking prednisone and it is amazing how much better I feel. I was worried it would make me psycho but no, just very energetic...

      Delete
  27. I ducking adore you.
    look at me all not swearing and stuff :-)
    You have the best attitude – – and some sexy sexy 20-year-old knees to boot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Look at me not swearing either. At least here on the blog, that is!

      <3

      Delete
  28. Ohhhh now Wendy! I'm so sorry!!! Is it feeling better now???

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's starting to feel better. I thought I'd be back on the road already but no such luck. We'll see what the next step is.

      Delete
  29. Boo! on the news, but great attitude. Get that game plan and knock your marathon out of the park!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I really admire your attitude. I guess just knowing is important. Everything just kind of makes sense now. Except that part of us that feels immune to things like this. And like your doctor said, it's good that you're already active.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think as athletes, we do feel a certain invincibility, don't we? I kind of suspected this but I was like, who me?

      Delete
  31. Oh no, I'm so sorry to hear about your RA, but I know that like any challenge, you are going to face it head-on and take care of business!

    Now I feel very foolish because I accidentally dropped a bookcase on my big toe (good ol' IKEA) and I'm in a lot of pain that did wake me through the night. Perspective! Hope the shots help you feel better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, pain is pain! I hope you feel better soon!

      Delete
  32. Ahhh that sounds awful!!!! I really hope you start to feel better and are back to 100% soon!!!you have a great attitude on your shoulders so I'm sure you'll be kicking that marathons butt in no time!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Oh Wendy I'm so sorry to hear this, but at least you're finally getting some answers. You've been able to work through this up until now, and I have no doubt that you'll come back stronger than ever. Keep your chin up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Today's kind of rough. I think I was kind of in shock all weekend. I'll be ok.

      Delete
  34. Oh no! So sorry to hear this. What can one do to prevent RA?

    Maybe one day you'll take up race walking!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think you can do anything to prevent RA--it's an autoimmune disease, so it's just one of those things...

      Delete
  35. That must have been so scary to wake up like that. As I was reading through, I thought it was gout, until you told me what it was. Geeze. I'll tell you, I think I am beginning to develop something like this, and it's worse when I run on a different surface, and also the cold makes it worse. So sorry about your toe, but your running photos are amazingly beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess it's good it happened, because now I know what's been going on all along, right? I'm anxious to get moving on a plan, though. Who's got time for this?

      Delete
  36. Boo. I hate to hear this. But I know you are a strong, tough gal and will get through it like everything else. You've got lots of tools at your disposal to stay in top form [wink]. {But just why does it always home to be something?} I have a toe that twitches violently at night and wakes me up -- but nothing compared to your burning sensation. Hang in there. Daydreaming of FL. Thanks for linking, Wendy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm daydreaming of Florida too. Can we just go back and stay? <3

      Delete
  37. Well, that sucks!! that is not at all ok. I'm sorry Wendy. I know you are strong and you will work through this, like you have worked through so much more before. I hope you and your doctor can figure out a plan of action to get this under control! Sending healing thoughts your way!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm seeing the specialist on Wednesday, so I'll hopefully have an idea of what's to come.

      Delete
  38. If it's not one thing is is another! What the heck? Your right, your too bad ass to sit and whine about it. Sounds like your already on top of it and will have a full plan in place in no time how to deal with this fork in the road! This #middleagedpriviledgedjogger isn't done yet!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Oh, Wendy. I'm so sorry! I'm sure that's the last thing you wanted to find out. However, because I'm that annoying glass-half-full person, you have a diagnosis and you can now manage it. You aren't the kind of person to roll over and quit in the face of adversity: you're going to face this head-on and make RA sorry it ever found its way to you. We've got your back!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a glass half full kind of gal too, and I think like you do. I see the rheumatologist on Wednesday, and I'll feel better once I have a plan!

      Delete
  40. Hi, I'm a longtime reader, and so sorry to hear about your diagnosis. However, I reckon you were happy to finally have a diagnosis. Weird bodies are tiring after a while, aren't they? I came to running after a serious illness and I am always amazed at how helpful it is, even though I run verrrry slowly and very little. You are wise to this too, so all I can really wish you is peace of mind (and less swollen toes).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for reaching out--it means a ton to me! I'm feeling less achy this morning, and I'm hoping to get out for a short run, even if it's slow. Just keep moving, right?

      Delete
  41. OMG Wendy!!! That is truly awful but you have the best attitude ever, which means it's really NOT awful because you are refusing to accept anything less than your best foot forward - LOL - I couldn't help it :-) It's so great you work in the medical field and were able to figure it out right away and, can also get the medical attention you need from the right professionals. I have no doubt you will not let this slow you down since you are already on top of your mental game, which we runners know is the most important thing!!! YOU GO!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you'd seen me yesterday...I needed a day at home to absorb it and have a little cry. I'm much better today and am ready to tackle whatever it is I need to do to get on top of this thing. Mentally tough? Me? Surely you jest... :p <3

      Delete
  42. visits to the podiatrist never end well! I hope you find a good treatment soon, but know you will kick ass no matter what!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Aww, man. That just sucks. But I'm firmly in the "I'd rather have answers" camp, so hopefully now you can move forward with the right steps (no pun intended LOL) to keep running. {{HUGS}} for the crappy news though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll take any and all hugs. But I plan just to keep on moving forward!

      Delete
  44. Well girl, as much as I hate it for you ...let me welcome you to the injured reserve list. I soooo understand the frustration of knowing that mentally you can go out and run major miles but that something as petty as a toe or ankle(in my case) just won't let you do what you sooo want to do! Glad to see that you are embracing the cycling in the meantime...it can be a fun alternative. Holly and I have been talking about getting together for a 50 miler or Century ride in the spring...maybe we could get a group together for one!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would be all over that! I did get out for a short run this morning--the toe was a little cranky but hey, I got out there. Felt good!

      Delete
  45. So sorry to hear about the RA, but at least you have answers! Best of luck to you!!!

    Jen
    jpabstfitness.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Answers are good, even if they aren't the ones you wanted!

      Delete
  46. Oh shit, mama. RA is no good. My MIL and SIL both have it. And I was recently diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis (a cousin to RA). I haven't gotten x-rays yet so I haven't been public about it. But I feel your #allthefeels -- anxiety, unease, determination, anger, relief at knowing what it is -- the whole nine. xxxxoooo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heading to the rheumatologist today--hoping to have a plan so I can move forward. I've got plans!

      Delete
  47. Well poop! You are right though, you will not let this stop you! Now you know the battle you can prepare the fight! You got this! XXOO!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What the hell, right? But hey, answers are good. And now I know.

      Delete
  48. Ugh that sucks Wendy I'm sorry but like other commenters have said - you got this! Dealing with recurring injury is a huge pain in the butt (no pun intended haha) but we runners know how to handle it and perservere :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm hoping my pain ignoring skills that I've honed through running will pay off with this diagnosis!

      Delete
  49. Wendy, that does stink, but I love your attitude! You are right, it could be worse and it must be a bit of a relief (?) to have put all the puzzle pieces together and know why the other injuries were happening. And of course to have the knees of a 20 year old!! You do have a lot of running left to do :-) Thanks so much for joining the Sunday Link-Up!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so grateful that my knees haven't been affected!

      Delete
  50. Wendy I feel terrible that I'm just seeing this now. My life has been insane the last couple of weeks, but I want you to know how much I admire you and your spirit. Let's be real for a moment: that sucks. Glad we got that out of the way. Now I can catch up and get on the positive/planning next steps train with you. It won't hold you back and this might help even more people dealing with RA learn how to get and stay mobile. You're a badass and you're going to keep killing it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is the goal! I plan to run over it and never look back!

      Delete
  51. I am so sorry to here but you are one of the strongest, bravest, and amazing woman I know!! I love your attitude and I know you are not going to let this slow you down. I love the part about your knees. Keep on running Wendy!!

    ReplyDelete
  52. Oh wow! Such a positive attitude. Such a diagnosis would sideline many a runner, but doesn't sound like it's going to keep you down at all. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This week really challenged my positive outlook! Now I'm feeling better again. I think this is how things are going to go for me.

      Delete
  53. Wow, Wendy. I haven't checked in in a while and am backtracking to learn about your RA diagnosis. Darn! I'm sure you will be a very informed and proactive patient and get great care to limit any damage as much as possible. But I'm so sorry that you've been hit with this and all the pain and hassle and learning curve for now, until you get it under control.

    ReplyDelete