Today I had my long-awaited appointment with the orthopedic department. I’ve been having some SEVERE foot and knee pain for quite a long time now.
At first the pain wasn’t so bad. It would come and go every couple of weeks and was, at best, bearable. But then it kept progressing and getting worse and worse and worse. There were numerous days where the pain was so intense that I literally could not walk on my right foot without intense, searing, burning, constant pain. When I was done working my shift at the restaurant, I would often arrive home completely defeated and often in tears.
It. was. hell.
It actually got so bad that about 3 weeks ago I made an incredible important decision in my recovery to further BACK OFF ON EXERCISE to alleviate the pain. You can read about this here.
This past month has been the absolute worst. I have been in excruciating pain every single day. I have dreaded getting out of bed and going to the gym and I have dreaded going to work. Every day was physically and mentally exhausting. I can’t even begin to tell you just how bad the pain is.
I just wanted to give up!
And so I anxiously counted down the days until my appointment.
AND FINALLY IT CAME!
Surprisingly I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be about the appointment. I had talked it over with my dietician about the possibility of being in crutches or having a boot. Mentally I have been preparing myself for a long time for the reality that I will not be able to exercise. And for the most part, I was OKAY WITH IT.
After much prodding and poking and yanking and stretching, I finally got my diagnosis.
Are you ready for this?
I sure wasn’t.
The verdict was: NOTHING.
That’s right, you heard me correctly. The doctors found that nothing was wrong.
No broken bones, no stress fractures, no torn ligaments, no frayed muscles, no inflammation, no bruises, no nothing.
It turns out that my pain has been caused by overuse, not enough rest, being on my feet all day, and not having proper support.
Did you catch that?
OVERUSE. NOT ENOUGH REST.
Those are key words.
The doctor told me that what I need to do is ice the injury, buy a better pair of shoes, do physical therapy and get some orthodics for my right foot.
To be honest I was actually a little disappointed. I know this sounds totally crazy, but I was actually kind of looking forward to being put up in a cast or a boot for a couple of weeks. I have been in pain for so long that I have been craving the rest and the relief. Also? For some reason I feel like I can’t take a day (or a month) off of exercise until I’m literally given permission a professional. I feel that I would be breaking the rules and being bad and lazy and unhealthy.
Bullcrap. In case you couldn’t tell that’s my eating disorder talking. Don’t listen to it. Anorexia is full of lies. Now that you’ve been introduced, let’s move on.
I can’t help but be extremely GRATEFUL that there is nothing seriously wrong with me. I don’t have to worry about taking time of from work heal. I can still exercise. I don’t have to worry about eating.
Nevertheless, this long and painful ordeal has taught me some important lessons about taking care of my body:
1. Get an injury checked out right away
—Okay, confession time: I have been having this pain for over a year. I know, I know that’s like really bad. Please don’t yell at me… But the truth is that I was SO SCARED OF NOT BEING ABLE TO EXERCISE that I could not walk into the doctor’s office. It took me MONTHS and many many days of pain until I was finally ready to begin taking the steps to get it taken care of. I believe the first appointment I made for my knee was finally in February.
2. BACK OFF OF EXERCISE
–I can’t stress this one enough. I wasn’t until I cut back on my exercise that the pain started to decrease. And as a result, I have never felt better.
—Since developing this pain I have been resting more than ever too. There are so many mornings when I will just sit around in my PJs and hang out on the computer. I understand now that my body needs this rest and I need to heal. Sometimes sittin’ on your butt can be the best medicine.
4. Don’t Push It.
—I’ll admit that I am still tempted to keep pushing through the pain. I’m kind of
hardcore stubborn that way. But I am learning that more times than not, going beyond your limits will only make it worse.
5. Being injured will help you appreciate your body more.
–Oh man, this one is so big. There is so much about our bodies that we take for granted. Not being able to walk or run for so long has really taught me how important and valuable my body is. I may never be able to walk without at least some pain but I am so grateful for my body the way it is now. When I’m in the gym I no longer focus on burning off a million calories and being super skinny. Now I’m more passionate about gaining strength and muscle mass. I get so giddy when I see my muscles developing and knowing that I DID THAT. i am learning to be so much more appreciate and loving of my body as a result. I can honestly say that now when I look in the mirror, I like what I see.
One last thing that truly goes without saying:
I am thankful for this injury. I know that God directly allowed it to happen because I would have never cut back on my exercise any other way. Without I would have died. I would never wish that this pain hadn’t happened because it was that powerful in terms of my recovery. I don’t ever want to forget it.