Three more firsts. . . what a year so far!

In the spirit of 2016 being the year of doing new things for the first time, last week I added three of those to my list: walking on crutches, using an electric wheelchair, and going to Urgent Care (for me, not for a kid with a sliced open finger).

It happened this way: Thursday night I went to choir. I really enjoy our community choir rehearsals. They are two hours in the week when I don’t have to think about kid issues, church people issues, marital issues, shopping, cooking, cleaning, or laundry responsibilities, the pile on my desk, or anything on my to do list. From 7:00-9:00 p.m. on Thursday, I think ONLY about choir and music and singing, and it’s loads of fun.

But that night, about halfway through choir, the outside of my left heel began to ache. Now, at 55, I must confess that I have had several bodily parts occasionally express odd levels of discomfort for seemingly no good reason, and this ache certainly fell into that category. It got worse throughout our rehearsal, and I figured it was probably related to my only doing my calf stretches (to prevent plantar fasciitis) once a day for the past six weeks instead of the faithful three times a day I did them before my hysterectomy. I went to bed thinking that it was surely just some weird thing that would be gone in the morning.

It was not gone in the morning.

Early Friday morning I needed to pee, but I could not bear ANY weight on my left foot. It was horrific pain – enough to make me yelp and cry – and I half hopped, half crawled to the bathroom and then took two ibuprofen. The pain was intense, but after an hour it was a bit better and I managed to do my walk, albeit in slow motion. However, at four hours, the horrific, unbearable pain resumed and I took two more ibuprofen. Which didn’t seem to help much and wore off completely in three hours. At which point I took two more, and they helped not the least bit at all. I knew I couldn’t keep taking ibuprofen every two hours, and since it wasn’t doing anything anyway, I quit that, called my doctor’s office, and took the earliest available appointment on the following Tuesday afternoon. I then went to the pharmacy and bought a pair of crutches.  = {

Saturday morning, the foot was somewhat worse, and Scott thought that the level of pain I was experiencing might indicate a break. A break? Well, maybe, but exactly how would one break a bone in one’s foot while sitting in a pew and singing?!?!? He took me to Urgent Care where an amount of being wheel-chaired around and three X-rays later, it was determined that nothing was broken. The doc there said it was either my plantar fasciitis flaring up (in which case I should rest it completely for two days, take two Aleve twice a day, and then resume my stretches five times a day), or it was a torn ligament (in which case I should rest it completely for two days, take two Aleve twice a day, but not do any stretches because they would only make it worse).

I hobbled home and spent the rest of the day crutching all over town (O, my aching pits!) with Katie for a wide variety of items needed to stock our newly acquired vacation rental home. In both Target and Wal-Mart, I sucked up my pride and used one of those electric chairs; in so doing, I was repeatedly reminded that I am clearly not licensed to drive those kinds of vehicles, and that backing up is totally humiliating.

Having rested and Aleved the foot thoroughly, by Sunday morning I was able to bear weight on it with only a slight limp, so I went crutchless to church and to our THRIVE meeting that evening.

Monday was better, almost normal, but I kept my Tuesday afternoon appointment and I’m really glad I did. Dr. Salmon ruled out both plantar fasciitis and torn ligaments, saying that he strongly suspected acute gout, a condition about which I knew literally only one fact: my dad had had gout. Dr. Salmon, who is a wonderful medical detective and instructor, explained it to me thoroughly, and I will summarize for you: gout is caused by a build-up of uric acid which then crystallizes in a joint (or in my case, in the lining of a tendon), causing extreme pain. Uric acid is what the body metabolizes protein into. Because I take a diuretic twice a day and so lose fluid, my tissues are tend to be somewhat dehydrated (despite my guzzling great quantities of water), and the level of uric acid in my blood is even more highly concentrated than that of the average bear. Indeed, mine checked out at an impressive 10.7  mg/dL, when it should be below 6.0. Well.

Dr. Salmon thought that cutting my diuretic back to only once a day, which would keep me better hydrated and thereby dilute my uric acid concentration, would probably solve the problem without my having to take uric acid-lowering medication. I really DON’T want to have to take any more meds! So I skipped my second dose of the diuretic for one day and promptly gained three POUNDS of fluid in my ankles(!!!), so that didn’t work, and I’m back to two doses. Right now, I am advised to lower my intake of protein (very sad) and beer (no sorrow there), continue to drink plenty of water, and wait and see if I have any further attacks. I am believing that I won’t.

My crutches are in the cellar now, and it is my fond hope that they will stay there unused forever.

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