giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
Cheetah pawsI've been meaning to write an LJ post for awhile about my overall health, but I've had so many things change along that front that I figured I'd let them settle down first.

First, the issue with my knees. About a year ago, I began feeling pain just below the kneecaps on both knees. I started wearing knee braces to rest the knees, and would try removing them after a few days of being pain free. But this only made the pain come back, and even worse: I would feel sharp stabbing pains in the sides of my knees. That scared me lots, because I had no idea what was wrong with my knees, and I was afraid to do anything that might aggravate them further. So I continued to wear the knee braces just in case I had something degenerative going on.

It took a few trips to the knee doctor, some MRIs, x-rays, and 2 months of physical therapy to finally get to the bottom of things. If you've ever heard a healthcare specialist say, "everything is connected", this is a classic case of that. The pain I felt under my kneecaps turned out to be patellar tendinits. Apparently the space between the bottom of my kneecap and the top of my tibia was a few millimeters too short for someone my size, which meant the tendon was shorter. This in turn predisposed me to things like that. Combine that with hitting the bicycle hard at the gym (more on that shortly), and I set myself up for issues with that tendon. And the stabbing pains in the sides of my knees? Seems I had not been working the supporting muscles on the sides of the knees, and the knee braces caused them to atrophy a little from underuse. So when I tried going off of the knee braces, I gave myself overuse injuries and a little scar tissue. Oops.

On the subject of the supporting muscles in the knees, the physical therapy I had at Zarett Rehab rocked really hard. The people there were very knowledgeable and taught me exercises such as Russian Single-leg Deadlifts to work all of the muscles in the knee, not just the patellar tendons. They also discovered some weakness in the muscles in my hips and lower back, and gave me exercises to do for those muscles as well. This should keep the muscles in my knees and feet from getting overtaxed. After several weeks of physical therapy, they then helped me wean myself off of the braces by way of having me walk longer and longer periods every day without them. At this point, I've been off the knee braces for two weeks, and have been taking walks in the evenings. It's really nice to be able to walk across town again. :-)

I said something earlier about the gym, and have come to the conclusion that gym machines are fairly evil. The problem with them, as I learned first hand, is that many machines only target a single muscle. Let's say you're using a leg extension machine. This will work the quads... and little else. This means that the supporting muscles don't get worked out, and can lead to problems down the road, especially if the quad were to get injured, causing you to limp, and causing more strain to be put on those other muscles. Muscles can start having issues one after another that quickly.

I've quit my membership at the gym, and am going to look into taking up yoga at some point. In the meantime, I'll keep doing my calisthenics 3 times a week, and walk seven days a week. I still have some discomfort in the knees and the tibialis anterior, but since it's a 100% soft tissue injury (e.g., the joints are fine), that will heal with time.

Leopard's pawThe second major issue is my feet. I began feeling this awful burning pain in them at Anthrocon last year. It limited my enjoyment of the con and was quite scary. So after the con I saw my doctor, then my pawdiatrist. Originally, it was pointed out that my feet had high arches, which meant that more load was borne by the ball of the foot and the outside of the feet. The first step to try and treat this was prescription orthotic inserts. But, the pain continued. So I was sent off to physical therapy. Unfortunately, I had an HMO at $OLDJOB, and could not choose which facility I was sent to. So while the people at the rehab facility I went to were really nice, I didn't get the best care I could. (My pawdiatrist used the word "McDonald's to describe them)

Fast forward a few months to December, when I changed jobs, and got a much better health plan. I was then sent off to Zarett for my injuries (yes, physical therapists can treat multiple injuries during the same visit, as I learned) and while it helped with the knees, it did less for the feet. Oddly enough, I discovered just a couple of weeks ago that removing my shoes while seated at my desk makes the pain and discomfort go away. Walking is fine, too. It's only standing and being seated with shoes on that cause me issues.

At this point, I've had X-rays, seen a pawdiatrist, physical therapist, neurologist, and had an ultrasound done. Yet, nobody can really tell me what's going on. The closest the physical therapist could say is that it was very likely a chronic injury spent by walking around with high arches for 30-plus years, but even he wasn't sure what the specific injury was. As he said, "Chronic injuries are frustrating for both the patients and us".

Overall, the pain in the feet is less than what it was last summer, and with things like fractures, arthritis and neuropathy all ruled out, that means I shouldn't have any serious issues going forward with my life.

TL;DR I got old, so I punched old age in the dick.
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
So I saw my pawdiatrist again today for a followup.

First, the good news: I'm feeling much better than I was 4 weeks ago, thanks to the diagnosis and physical therapy. I'd classify the pain as about a 3/10, whereas it was about a 6/10 4 weeks ago. And if I do have a flareup in the cuboid muscles, applying the heating pad for about 20 minutes is sufficient. (Protip: secure the heating pad with a belt for maximum effectiveness.)

Now, the not so good news: I'm still having some pain, along the side of the feet and in the balls of both feet. It's a very light tingling, that turns into more of a burning sensation if I'm on my feet for some time (like say, at a convention). I can also feel my pulse in those areas of my feet. My pawdiatrist found this very interesting, since those are no blood vessels in those parts of the feet. He flat out said that he has no idea what is going on there.

At this point, since the pain is minor, and I'm "functional", we're going to play "wait and see" for 3 months and see what happens. If I'm still having pain, then we might look into things like acupuncture.

When I asked him about what happens if I ever switch jobs/insurance, he remarked that I can still be a patient of his, even if I don't have health coverage, he'll just charge me the co-pay. When I looked at him like he was crazy, he uttered this quote:

"I'm not here to get rich, I'm here to help you get better".

-- Dr. T, my pawdiatrist

Holy. Crap.

Anyway! At this point, I'm well enough to attend Midwest FurFest (ordered plane tickets today) and to go see a knee specialist about my knee issues, which I'll try to make an appointment for tomorrow.

A con report for FurFright is in the works, with plenty of pictures. Watch for it soon!
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
For the first time in about 6 months of knee/foot problems, I finally got a diagnosis, at least on my feet.

I saw my pawdiatrist (Dr. T) today, 6 weeks after getting my orthotics. I told him that I was still in pain, with several flareups having happened since I started wearing the orthotics, which otherwise have felt just fine.

He did another examination and told that I have something called "Cuboid Band Syndrome" [2], or muscle spasms in the outer part of my feet. It can be caused by overuse, and in my case: by walking around without arch support for 33 years. This is the pain that started at Anthrocon and continues through today. The orthotics didn't make it any worse (and in fact are still medically necessary for me), but I had enough issues going on with those muscles that they did not heal even with the orthotics.

The treatment for this consists to two things. First, a muscle relaxer (Cyclobenzaprine) to relieve the symptoms. Second, physical therapy to strengthen the muscle. I was fortunate to get the same physical therapy place as before, and even get assigned to the same specialist. Since she gave me knee exercises to do earlier in the year (exercises that I still do every night), adding in some foot exercises shouldn't be much of a problem either.

The Cyclobenzaprine could be interesting, though. My pawdiatrist said that it will "knock you out", and not to even think of driving a car or drinking booze after taking my dose. So this means I will probably not be consuming any alcohol while at WPAFW this coming weekend, but hopefully in less pain too.
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
PA Furries chat room

Things have gotten interesting with my feet. Early last week, I figured out a "trigger" that made them hurt: wearing shoes. It seemed that wearing my shoes the entire day apparently put enough pressure on my feet to make them hurt more. So the solution was to remove my shoes while I'm seated at my desk at work. That's not the preferred way to write code, but hopefully this will help my feet start the healing process so I can resume being active again.

In the later part of the week and this past weekend, I noticed that the pain in my feet changed a bit, as did the pain in my knees. This suggests that my orthotic inserts might just be doing their job. I'm 1.5 weeks into my initial 6 week run of them, so we'll see.

Late last week, [ profile] alsaihn and [ profile] turtyl_db swung by one evening. We hung out, chatted, and generally got caught up on things.

Somewhere in there [ profile] desteredra and I got together a few times for food and general hanging out.

Some other actual work I did last week included deploying chat on the Pennsylvania Furries website. It's a web-based chat system that appears in the right sidebar for logged in users (as shown in the screenshot on the right), and seems to be pretty popular with folks on the site. I'm glad I set that up.

And finally, after living in my current apartment for 9 years, I got curtains for my place. Yes, curtains. It's too dark to get good pictures now, but I'll eventually post before/after pictures.
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
I picked up my orthotic shoe inserts today. This is what they look like:

My orthotic shoe inserts My orthotic shoe inserts

For those of you who have used Spenco Polysorb insoles, that's exactly what the top of them are. They're quite padded. The underside is a carbon mesh, with a rather high arch.

Wearing them feels interesting. To quote my doctor, "it's like there is a hand pushing up on the bottom of each arch".

Getting my muscles adjusted to these will also be interesting. And I don't mean the muscles in my feet, but rather in my legs! Since these orthotics rotate my feet on the Z-axis, this means that one half of the muscles on my leg will pull more than usual, while the other half will push more than usual. I was told to wear them for an hour the first day, then increase the wearing time by an hour each day. He explained to me that if I fail to do this, the pain will send me to the Emergency Room, because wearing them for a full day before my muscles are ready would be like going to the gym for a full day.

The next step is to see my pawdiatrist again in 6 weeks. He said that there's a 98% chance that I will, and I quote, "feel like kissing him on the lips". Yes, he really said that. In the remaining 2%, some imperfection may show up in the orthotics, which means they get sent back to the manufacturer for adjustment.

The manufacturer also offers a "protection plan". For $75, I can be enrolled for 3 years, which will protect my orthotics against damage or theft (LOLWHUT?). I'll probably go for that, just for the damage angle.

What this will do to my knees remains to be seen, but there's a pretty good chance I'll see some improvement there, since my feet will now be aligned properly. If I see substantial improvement, I intend to do some traveling. Possible destinations include New York City, driving west as far as Chicago, visiting Cheetah Pizza (you guys think I'm joking? Click the link!), or flying to Las Vegas.

More news as I get it.
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
Leopard's pawJust got back from the pawdiatrist's office about my feet, which began hurting quite bad at this year's Anthrocon and have continued to hurt since, laying me up for the last couple of weekends.

The good news: it's not neuropathy.

The bad news: it's my mom's fault.

Okay, maybe I should work my way back from that statement.

My pawdiatrist examined my x-rays and then my feet, and seemed impressed at the brain dumps I put together for him on my knee and feet issues over the past 3 months. He then went on to explain the big picture, starting with my hips. They're a little wider than they should be for someone my size, which means my knees aren't perfectly straight. This accounted for my knee issues (though the excessive cycling surely did not help, either!). From there, he pointed out that my feet also have high arches, which means that an abnormal amount of weight is being placed on the outside of the feet (where it hurts the most) as well as the balls of the feet and the heels. Age didn't help, either. My body was just too old to take the stress that I put on it at every Anthrocon, hence the problems happening this particular year.

So why are my hips abnormal in the first place? It has to do with how I grew in my mother's womb. Since I am a first born child, that means that the muscles in her uterus were tighter and caused my body to be a slightly different position as she carried me. Hence the bones of my hips forming differently.

And how to fix this? Fixing my hips ( is right out, so the next best thing we can do is get orthotics to align my feet properly. That in turn will take some of the stress off of them as well as my knees. From there, it will be some months for my muscles in my knees and feet to fully adjust, since I have to undo about 33 years of mis-alignment first. (there may be more physical therapy involved) I have an appointment to get fitted for them next week, and they'll be delivered 2-3 weeks after that. They normally last a year for people who run marathons, and 3-5 years for the rest of us mortals.

As far as ongoing treatment, the doc said that foot baths and capzasin really won't do much, nor does the Piroxicam. The inserts I currently have don't hurt, but they won't completely help, either. Orthotics are pretty much the only option.

The big downside (aside from the pain) is that insurance plans generally don't cover orthotics, which means $500 out of pocket for me. But... I guess that's what my emergency fund is for. So that brings it down to a mere inconvenience.

Until I get this under control, I don't think I'll be doing much long distance travel, or even short distance travel. ConFluence (this weekend!) is right out, and so is IndyFurCon, I'm afraid, since the first one involves a 5 hour drive and the second involves stomping through a couple of airports. :-/ I'm hopeful I'm feeling better by FurFright and MFF, but we'll see. (I can still make it to DC this weekend, since that involves Amtrak, and mostly hanging out at [ profile] davinwarter's place, as opposed to walking around a convention.)

I got plans the next couple of weekends, but I think in general if folks want to come visit on weekend (or give me a lift to local social events on weekends), I won't say no. I think the social interaction would be good for me anyway, and I can grace folks with my charming wit and witty intellect. (complete and total lies, BTW)

Oh, and being old sucks. :-P


giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
Douglas Muth

April 2012



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