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I Limp (More) Because of What?

This week's lesson is that pain is bad. I keep failing to learn that pain means something is wrong. Since I am always in some pain, I never seem to know when the pain is severe enough to take action.

Today I went to the medical clinic because the pain in my left leg, and the corresponding limp, had become too much to bear. I was near tears several times over the last week. I've been hesitating to put any weight on the heel of the left foot due to shooting pains, but this has caused me to put too much weight on the front of my foot, leading to a pinched nerve.

I've used a cane for many years. In 2008, an MRI found a little arthritis and the damage from a spiral fracture I suffered as a youth, but nothing to explain my limp.

Today, the physician's assistant asked a simple question: "In 2008, did anyone look at the left foot?"

No, they had not. The doctors assumed the limp was related to my previous injuries, my palsy, and scoliosis. Nobody paid much attention to the fact my foot hurt. They said it was merely a symptom of the other problems.

So, I removed my tennis shoe, sock, and nervously watched as the P.A made those knowing noises of someone agreeing with herself. She didn't need more than a minute to diagnose the problem.

"You have plantar fasciitis, aggravated by some horrible plantar warts. Do you jog or cycle? I bet it really hurts after you exercise, doesn't it?"

She said the first thing to address was the wart cluster, which were starting to inhibit my ability to stretch and flex my foot. Until the warts are treated, she explained, you can't try orthotics or other approaches for the fasciitis.

I hate to have my feet touched. I hate to see my feet. I don't like feet, in general. And here was someone staring at my foot, with its calluses and dry skin. I use medicated powders and desiccant so I won't get athlete's foot. But, apparently I still had plantar warts.

When I told the P.A. my foot had the odd calluses since 2006 or so, she said the warts were probably several years old. They had to be removed and I get to go back, at least three more times, to have the sole of my foot poked, prodded, and frozen. (Or maybe it is prodded, frozen, then poked?) It is an unpleasant, painful, process. I'll withhold the details.

I'm not sure I will ever know "bad" pain from "daily pain" because they are similar. This leads me to wonder how many other people have this problem? I know the stereotype is that men ignore pain. I don't ignore it — as my wife will attest, I complain and whine — but I also don't know when it is a medical issue versus the way my body is.

At least this medical issue is finally being addressed.

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