Monday, March 2, 2015

Mystery solved...I think

Got my skis out this weekend.
I think I finally found out what is wrong with my foot.

Dr. Holt told me last week that it was the fault of my cute colorful tennis shoes, which are curved on the inside of the toe bed and have an added ridge on the outside. Although he said he can imagine that the shoes were constructed this way for better side-to-side motion, but because I pronate, they added too much pressure to my big toe and the inner side of my foot, therefore causing an inflammation in that area and the whole upper part of my foot.

He added a little extra cushioning to the bottom of my orthotic in an effort to take the pressure off that part of my foot. I put faith in what he says because as physical therapist with a Ph.D in biomechanics, he cured my plantar fasciitis.

He looked at my tennis shoes and said, "Just looking at those shoes makes my feet hurt!" he said.

 He was also unhappy with my cute blue running shoes because they do not fit his test for a firm inner sole around the toe bed.

So it's goodbye colorful shoes and back to the old black and white.

Function trumps fashion.

In the meantime I need to get the inflammation down. He said to ice and to stretch my toes as much as possible. Play with my toes, as it were. Also I am taking some ibuprofen just to get me over the hump and obviously skipping tennis and running for a while. It is frustrating to get everything in order and then get hobbled by a toe.

Dr. Holt said he doesn't much like podiatrists, because they usually give shots that do not work (which is what happened the last time I went to one), but just to cover all bases (which I cannot run!) I am keeping an appointment with another podiatrist tomorrow.

But enough with the feet.

Some friends had asked me to go cross country skiing over the weekend, and since I hadn't done it in ages and wanted to try it again, I asked if that would be OK on my feet. He said it was probably OK since it did not involve pounding.

It was great to be outside after all this cold weather. It took a while for me to get my ski legs back and so I fell a few times, but it was on soft snow and I didn't mind.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tennis a hazardous sport at times

Things might be looking up in the foot department because today I have an appointment with Ken Holt, the physical therapist who cured my plantar fasciitis with soft orthotics made on the spot, thereby causing me to be optimistic about his ability to prescribe a cure for the painful big toe and the area beneath it on the top of my foot.

My right leg in general is not so great because I am sporting a bruise the size of a cantaloupe on my calf after being hit by a ball during Friday night's pizza mixer in Ludlow. In the past when I got hit by a ball maybe it was my fault for not getting out of the way, but there was nothing I could have done about the wild serve that a (guy) player hit (hard) onto the wrong half of the court. It was supposed to go to my partner, the receiver, in the ad court, but instead it creamed me as I stood in the deuce court on the service line.

I hobbled up to the net and said that, technically, it was their point. Sometimes people don't realize it, but according to USTA rules, a so-called body shot is always the opponent's point:

If any ball (during the service or a rally) hits a player before it hits the ground, no matter where that opposing player(s) is standing and no matter how far out the ball was heading, that player/team loses the point.

They said they would feel terrible taking the point, so they didn't, playing it as a missed first serve, after which they won the point on the second serve anyway.

I haven't run or played tennis since then, but I have gone to exercise classes at the Y because:

(a) it's hard for me to sit still
(b) there is not really any pounding on my foot
(c) we do a lot of weight-lifting which is good to do although my least favorite, and,
(d) there is a "winter wellness challenge" going on and we have been given little cards for the instructors to initial after each workout; when you complete 10 workouts you can be entered to win prizes.

I never win anything, or maybe I did once and it was a sweatband or something, but there is nothing like a little incentivizing.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

My feet can't fail me now...or can they?

I hardly ever complained about having cancer, well, actually, maybe, as unbelievable as it sounds, I never did, because I just didn't see the point.

However, as my friends and relatives know, I have complained loudly and often about problems with my feet. This started with plantar fasciitis, an ailment that leads to loud complaining among sufferers because it is just so infuriating that an area the size of a quarter on your heel can totally incapacitate you.

Lately it has been my big toe and the area right below it on the top of my foot. It got better after I injured it some months ago and now it flared up again after my match last weekend. I think I stomped down on it pretty hard while running for a ball.

As I write this I am wearing the boot that my podiatrist said might help. I bought the thinnest strip of Ace bandaging that I could find and wrapped it around the toe because shhhhhhhhh, I'm going to tennis today. Since I can't take Advil or anything other anti-inflammatory, that's all I can do for now.

I sat around for a day or two because in addition to the toe, I was feeling a little under weather, maybe due to the weather itself. The past couple of days I have gotten back to it with a body sculpt class at the Holyoke Y (not too much pounding on the feet), Pilates at the Hampshire Y and a little indoor bike riding. I have made a commitment to go to the "total fitness" class in Holyoke tomorrow because I have a date afterwards for coffee and probably something sweet with my friend Joan Vohl Hamilton to reward ourselves for going.

I have an appointment with a podiatrist for the first week of March and am hoping maybe I can get a shot so I can still run the race. Also I put in a call to my foot guru, Ken Holt, he of the wondrous orthotics that cured my plantar fasciitis, thinking that maybe my orthotics are worn down in the toe area and I might need a new pair.

Sadly, my blog friends are gone, so I don't have a reference point for what is happening with the serious stuff. But I follow Jody Schoger, a connection via my late friend Ann Gregory. Jody writes about living with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. When I read her posts, I say to myself, "And I'm worrying about my feet?"

The thing is that where I am right now is about wanting to get back to the top of my game physically, which also means mentally, and you just can't have your feet acting up.

My feet can't fail me now. Sing along!


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Slow and steady

The last time I ran the Saint Patrick's Road Race, in 2013, I was so slow that Ben, who was waiting for me at the end, wondered if something had happened to me.

I was far from last, which made me happy, but mostly I was happy just to do it.

A new study showing slower runners lived longer provides even more consolation.

The study, published this month in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology, focused on jogging, the most popular strenuous activity worldwide. Researches affiliated with the University of Copenhagen studied  the enormous database about health habits among Danes known as the Copenhagen City Heart Study.
 As expected, joggers consistently tended to live longer than people who did not exercise. And the ideal pace was slow.
 In fact, the people who jogged most often and at the fastest pace — who were runners rather than joggers — did not enjoy much benefit in terms of mortality. Their lifespans tended to be about the same as those who did not exercise at all.
Still, I feel better if I go a little faster, so when I am up to it, I try to increase my speed just a bit in between telephone poles or other markers.
I would like to do some hills this weekend, but alas, it seems like once again the weather might not cooperate.

Monday, February 9, 2015

A little jogging, a lot of snow

It's a good thing I finally got a run in on Saturday before it started snowing again.

I was going to run from my house out Ferry Street to Brunelle's Marina, but after running just a little bit I saw there was no shoulder. I turned around and went a couple of times around Mount Holyoke's lower lake, adding small hills by running to and from some dorms and then back through campus. I'm not sure how far I went. Maybe three miles or so.

I had re-routed because I figured there wasn't much sense in getting hit by a car while trying to get in shape for St. Pat's. Good clear thinking, as my father used to say.

After working hard in yoga, I took Maddie over to Jim and Jane's for a play date with Blue because I figured I didn't have much to give her. I went back home and conked out on the couch, taking such a long nap that I was disoriented when I woke up close to 5.

I dreamt that a friend wanted a long strand of rose quartz beads from my mother's collection, but all I could find were double-stranded chokers. I was upset that she was not there because she could have easily used her pliers to make the change. I went into another room and she actually was there, looking young and beautiful but crying with Diane because my father was gone. I said I didn't think she was real, but someone else came into the room and said she really was. I don't know if this was a good dream or a bad dream.

Meanwhile, I was supposed to go to Boston tonight for a meeting that the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation was having to organize a 5K walk/run to be held in Boston on April 26. It was scheduled to include donors, recipients and volunteers. This is the organization that got me Denise, so I was happy to attend. I didn't understand that I was joining a committee, but that's fine because I'm eager to help out with ongoing efforts to raise awareness about swabbing and raise money for ongoing testing.

Understandably with all of this snow falling, the meeting has been postponed to next Monday.

When there might be more another storm.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Slicing, dicing and hitting hard

A few of us want to run to get ready for the Saint Patrick's Road Race, but it has just been too cold.

I skipped it last year due to a months-long spate of terrible pain in my quads (caused by prednisone, helped by physical therapy) and would really like to run it this year. I hope that spinning, the dread mill and the runs I have already put in and hopefully some to come will suffice.

Yesterday we had about three hours of tennis: a free doubles strategy session with Michael ("middle," middle" "middle"!) followed by our regular clinic with George. By the end I was pretty tired, but George said he has never seen me play better.

I had really gotten into the flow, and actually all four of us had, leading to the best kind of tennis there is. After a few good angled slices and spins, George asked me "How did you do that?" and I said, "You taught me." He got that little grin.

In drills before playing, everyone was hitting the ball hard. Someone whaled a ball right into my throat, taking my breath away for a second. One of the players who is a nurse said it looked OK. I caught my breath, the other player apologized, and then I kept going.

"There's no crying in tennis," I said.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

One craaaazy night

I dreamt that I was in Iowa and I couldn't speak the language (possibly because I had just read the funny "Letter from Joni Ernst About Measles" in The New Yorker.) My cell phone was dead and I couldn't call anyone but it wouldn't have helped because I couldn't remember the address of where I was staying.

I bumped into some friendly people who spoke English. I asked if they had ever been to the East Coast and they said no. I entertained them by telling them how the people speak. New Yorkers say New Yawk. Bostonians say Bahston. Long Islanders accentuate the "g" in Long.

Back in South Hadley, I had to leave at 10:30 for a doubles strategy session that Michael was giving (which is indeed happening today). But my father had taken my car and was not back. I knew Joe would not want me driving his car and I didn't know what to do. Turns out the car was actually in the driveway, blocked in by a red Ferrari that belonged to a workman. The workmen were all over the place. Bert was repainting my bedroom, and I nearly tripped over a drop cloth. My mother was hanging curtains.

No, I was actually at 1200 Fifth Ave., and in the condo remodeling they had moved the elevator door. Instead of being right next to 4C, it was one door down. I rang the doorbell of the new apartment and the woman who answered at first seemed annoyed but then said it happens all the time. She said she was a goalie for the Yankees and I said I would tell my son because he's a goalie too.

I rang for the elevator over and over and when it finally came, an annoyed tall man said I didn't have to ring it so many times.

I caught the Fifth Avenue bus and saw the tennis courts in the park. I jumped off but forgot my shoes on the bus. Luckily the bus driver stopped and handed them to me. When I got to the courts I saw that they were made of sand, and it was more like playing on the beach. I couldn't remember if I was supposed to catch the ball with my hands or hit it into a net like soccer. I decided on the latter and it slowly rolled in. But it was an onion that got buried in the sand.

Bill Clinton walked by smiling. (Second time a Clinton has appeared in my dreams; last time it was Hillary playing at the Australian Open.)

I went back home to rest while preparing to go back for our afternoon clinic (which is really happening today.) I was taking the whole week off from work because I had been sick and my mother had told me to. But I was worried that someone from work would see me playing. Luckily the afternoon clinic got canceled because Donna and Deb had decided it would be too much in one day.

I got in my car and when driving down the street I realized that the brakes weren't working. (Subaru has sent a recall notice saying they performed an incomplete repair on a recall notice for faulty brake lines.)  In my dream, the car wouldn't stop, and I didn't want to run anyone over. I pulled into the fire station, rolled down the window and asked for help. Fire chief Billy Selkirk and some others grabbed onto the car and slowed it down. Billy rotated the front tires and fixed the problem.

Then I was running barefoot down a city street, stepping over and crunching down on all sorts of construction debris. Someone said I was going in the wrong direction. I turned around and saw Ed Durkee from high school. And also Katryn from college. I thought I knew where I was when I saw our school Friends Seminary across a park. People in booths were selling strappy shoes. No, it was the Chestnut Hill Reservoir in Boston. No it was really Mount Holyoke College. Basically I just wasn't sure where I was.

At this point Maddie woke me up, yelping in her own dream. I called her name loudly, but she kept crying. I got out of bed and went to wake her up. She gave a little whimper and settled back into sleep.

It was 4:15 a.m.