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My success story, with some pitfalls to watch out for PLUS some hope

Posted by Nancy S. on 5/31/01 at 01:00 (049431)

Hi everyone, as some people here know, I first came down with severe plantar fasciitis in May 1999 and found heelspurs.com in December 1999. It's been a long and hard road, but today I consider my feet 90-95% well. I want to document for newcomers the course my difficulties took, what didn't help me, and what did help me. Most of all, I want PFers to know that even very difficult and longer-than-wanted(!) cases like mine can become manageable, and you can get your life back -- probably with some additional facets, such as compassion for others with physical ailments, gratitude for what you have, and the welcome inability to take things such as walking for granted ever again. Gee that sounds preachy! Well, I'm still trying to absorb these things myself after a life turned upside down and inside out due to PF.

Here's a chronology of what happened, helped, didn't help, etc.:

May 1999: Severe PF struck in my left foot one day completely out of the blue, as I was happily at work on my antiques business. Stuck my foot in husband's face that night and said something sharp was stuck in there and please get it out, I don't care what it takes.

June 1999: Saw primary care doctor, who x-rayed foot and diagnosed PF, and referred me to a podiatrist.

July 1999 - December 1999: Saw bad podiatrist, who neglected to educate me even the tiniest bit about how to take care of my injury (no advice about stretching, footwear, rest, etc.). He tried cortisone shot on the first visit, nightsplint and Day-Pro on the second visit, and $315 custom orthotics on the third visit. The orthotics were hard plastic and shoddy. He was ready to do surgery after these very few conservative tries at the end of December -- but I found heelspurs.com and learned of the many conservative measures the podiatrist had not tried or educated me about, and learned that surgery is a last resort and it was not nearly the time for me to consider that.
Got Birkenstocks because of advice on this site -- major improvement right there. Was able to lose the cane I'd been using since September.

January 2000 - May 2000: Saw osteopath briefly in January to see if he had a magic cure (nope). Closed my antiques business temporarily to take a three-month rest off the feet. Went into debt to do it -- wouldn't hesitate again. The rest helped my PF _a lot_, and I was able to bear it mainly because of the camaraderie and insights at heelspurs.com.
Unfortunately, I tried to keep circulation going and the rest of my physical self in some kind of shape by swimming gently, but didn't keep it up; and by doing weight-bearing (wall) stretches, which turned out to be lousy for me.

June 2000 - September 2000: PF was feeling better -- not perfect, but much better. However, as soon as I began to become active again and get back to work, I developed swelling and pain all around my ankles and the back of my heels (Both of them, not just the PF foot). Went to see sports med. specialist, who diagnosed one of the worst cases he'd ever seen of achilles, peroneal, and posterior tibial tendonitis. Put my worse (PF) foot in a walking cast for 7 weeks, and started me on what would become six months of physical therapy. Closed my antiques business 'for good' and despair at a new level set in.

October 2000 - December 2000: Started using the Acu-Flex at home VERY gently for stretching and strengthening, guided by my PT; continued the PT, which consisted of iontophoresis, increasingly deep and painful massage to get rid of scar tissues, and heavy-duty icing. Increasingly was given exercises, gradually undertaken, to do at home.
At PT's and doctor's insistence, went for a second custom-orthotics evaluation and casting from a certified orthotist. He was very good, but I never did adjust to the arches in them -- my arches were low to begin with, and flatten out almost completely when I stand. Returned to Birks, and finished PT in December, at which time I felt about 75% recovered.

January 2001 - now: Had never tried homeopathy in my life, and never even thought about it, but my husband drove me to Mexico in January and I saw a well-recommended homeopathic doctor while there. The homeopathic medicines I got from him quickly -- within days -- brought my feet up to at least 90% well. (I went off them for two weeks in April, and my feet swelled and became painful -- went back on them, and the feet have been very good ever since.)
I have begun to work at antiques again, and find that I can walk around while working for several hours at a time. Standing still for more than half an hour starts to bring foot fatigue and ache. This may still improve with time. And it may not. If not, I'll take it! I will always be mindful of my feet, take care of them, rest them when needed, and keep them flexible and strong by using them up to their limits and not beyond (those limits now being far beyond what they were for a long and painful time, but not so far away that I think I can work on my feet 10 or 12 hours at a time and get away with it continually).

Rest helped me (this included using cane, scooters, and sometimes a wheelchair at PF's worst). I think the nightsplint helped a little. Only very gentle stretching helped me -- and only after the acute inflamed stage was on the wane. Icing helped me. Physical therapy helped me, especially I think the deep massage, which was very painful but worth it. Birkenstocks helped me from the get-go, and I'll probably wear them for the rest of my life, including when I get up in the night; I never go barefoot, and I wear rubber sandals in the shower. The support and education I received here at heelspurs.com are irreplaceable. Patience became my friend, although I didn't really know it at the time and didn't like it one bit for a long while.

What would I do differently if I had it to do over? I would have educated myself immediately and fired my initial podiatrist. I would have skipped the cortisone shot, stopped trying to walk and work through the pain, and given some serious rest to my foot immediately -- no matter what the sacrifices, financial or otherwise. I think good custom orthotics are well worth a try, even though they didn't end up working as well for me as Birks. I would have done non-weight-bearing stretching only, and I would have kept up the swimming or some other kind of movement that keeps the circulation going and the endorphins appearing.

And speaking of endorphins: No question about it, if you have a longer-term case of PF or other foot/tendon problems, your life as you knew it can evaporate in a haze of pain. People have to leave their jobs; they can't run after their kids; they can't go to the grocery store or even walk to the mailbox without pain. All of this and more can be very _depressing_, and if I had it to do over, I would make much more of an effort to keep as much life going as possible without overusing my injured feet. I would fight the depression by keeping in close touch with friends and seeing them often despite the temptation to isolate; by doing more of the things that meant a lot to me before deep mourning over my feet set in, such as listening to and playing music, doing artwork, reading good books, watching good movies, keeping a journal; by remembering to laugh often and, if that was hard, find things to make me do it anyway; by giving more of myself to others and getting my mind off myself, impossible as that seemed sometimes; and by getting therapy and going on medication if real clinical depression sets in.

I was in bad shape for nearly two years, but my feet are at last doing very well and I'm working at re-creating a life. I can honestly say that I have every reason to be optimistic and know that many of life's joys once again await me. So no matter how bad it gets, remember that time will pass and you can work at getting well and you can make it happen. And remaining mindful of keeping of your feet well is not the pain in the neck I used to think it would be: it is becoming automatic, and I'm grateful.

I hope this little (or is it big by now?!) story helps someone and gives you hope.

Nancy S.

Re: My success story, with some pitfalls to watch out for PLUS some hope

john h on 5/31/01 at 10:49 (049463)

good story nancy!

Re: My success story, with some pitfalls to watch out for PLUS some hope

Beverly on 5/31/01 at 11:14 (049470)

Nancy,

How good it is to hear from you! Your success story touches my heart far more than any other I've read, because I've followed your ups and downs for the last year. To hear you say that both your feet and ankles are in almost total remission is wonderful to hear! I had hoped you were back having a life and that was why we hadn't heard from you. Thank you so much for posting your success story.

I have a question for you since our diagnosis is so similar. How long did it take you to be able to do mild/passive stretches without bringing on lingering pain at the achilles tendon? I ask that because I developed that 2 months ago and since then it has been very difficult to stretch. I'm just now able to give the iddy-bittyest FootFlexes a try. Not being able to stretch has send my PF backwards.

I wore an ankle brace for a few weeks but had to stop wearing it because it became more uncomfortable than helpful.
I'm giving orthodics yet another try... getting them today!
My best wishes for your continued recovery. Knowing how much you suffered and for so long, I am so very happy to hear how well you are doing.
Beverly

Re: My success story, with some pitfalls to watch out for PLUS some hope

Laurie R on 5/31/01 at 12:53 (049472)

Dear Nancy, Thank you so much for telling your story.... You have helped so many people including myself in more ways then one. I am so proud that you are my friend ..... You deserve to be pain free after all you had to deal with over the last two yesrs....I thank you again my friend ,my mentor .......You Rock nancy!!!!!! Much love to you , Laurie

Re: My success story, with some pitfalls to watch out for PLUS some hope

Christy D on 5/31/01 at 13:51 (049481)

Thank you for sharing xoxoxo

I pray they stay good forever!

Re: My success story, with some pitfalls to watch out for PLUS some hope

Cynthia D on 5/31/01 at 22:35 (049526)

Hi, I was wondering how you were doing. Do you give most of the credit to the homeopathic remedies you are taking? I'm glad you are back to doing what you love. Your words about staying in your life are so true, sometimes chronic pf pain makes you want to crawl up into a hole and never come out!

You reminded us to keep the sunshine in our lives - thanks.

Re: My success story, with some pitfalls to watch out for PLUS some hope

Nancy S. on 6/01/01 at 23:25 (049654)

Glad to hear from you all, and I want to answer the couple of questions in your responses.
Beverly: I think I first noticed the achilles tendons' stiffness and soreness around April or May of 2000. Was diagnosed in June and started PT in July. I was told to do no stretching for quite a while, until my PT finally started me on very gentle stretching and strengthening with the Acu-Flex, which I think I received in September. So I would say from May or June until September I did no stretching -- in fact both my dr. and my PT emphasized rest for those tendons (except for the therapy itself) until the inflammation was brought down; my dr. put my worse foot in the aircast for seven weeks that summer for this very reason -- to rest the achilles and other tendons. For me, I think this laying off aggravating the tendons was important. When enough of the pain and inflammation had subsided (though they certainly weren't gone), I kind of started over getting my feet in shape. I did it very gently and gradually, and actually ended up surprised that they improved at the rate they did. I wish you all the best with your case, Beverly -- keep the faith.
Cynthia, I don't think I can say I give most of the credit to the homeopathic medicines, since other measures had already taken me to the 75% point (Birks, rest, PT, and gentle and non-weight-bearing stretching and strengthening). But homeopathy definitely contributed in a big way to getting me to where I really feel mobile -- not perfectly mobile, but usually without significant pain and without feeling that I have to be aware of limitations every second. In other words, I'm not thinking 'my feet! my feet!' continually, all day every day. I can do things for a long time on my feet now and hardly be aware of them on a conscious level. And it surely is nice after two years! I hope this happens for you and am pulling for you.
Nancy

Re: My success story, with some pitfalls to watch out for PLUS some hope

Rock on 6/05/01 at 19:52 (050021)

Great story of healing yourself !

Re: My success story, with some pitfalls to watch out for PLUS some hope

Cindy H on 6/06/01 at hrmin (050077)

Please tell me what the homeopathic medicines are....Best, Cindy

Re: My success story, with some pitfalls to watch out for PLUS some hope -- to Cindy H.

Nancy S. on 6/07/01 at 09:28 (050139)

Hi Cindy,
Please remember that a homeopathic doctor evaluates the person as a whole, and not just one condition. So what was prescribed for me would probably not be what's prescribed for someone else.
The main ingredients in my medicines are argentum metallicum, rhus. tox., and calcium carbonate (all relating to joint or rheumatic pain, and sprains or strains), plus a little valerian.
After I returned from Mexico and posted about this, a fascinating discussion took place here, and you might want to read those threads. To find them, type in the above search box 'homeopath' -- there will be some earlier posts about it, and then the ones that followed my experience begin on 2/26/01. (I just checked -- you can find them this way.)
Not all my ingredients appear there -- I found a little later that I hadn't read the whole prescription. But the ones most relevant to my feet are those that I listed at the beginning of this post.
Hope this is helpful -- if nothing else, you should enjoy the back-and-forth on homeopathy if you search for and read those threads!
Nancy

Re: My success story, with some pitfalls to watch out for PLUS some hope -- to Cindy H.

Nancy S. on 6/07/01 at 09:48 (050142)

Testing testing . . .
I replied to Cindy H.'s post on the Success Stories board, and my post didn't appear in the reverse-reading of messages on the main index. In fact, I hadn't seen Rock's or Cindy's posts in my reverse-reading -- someone tipped me off that they were there: what's up, I wonder.
Cindy, if you haven't seen the reply, please go to the Success Stories board. It is there.

Re: My success story, with some pitfalls to watch out for PLUS some hope

ann on 7/06/01 at hrmin (052383)

can you tell me what the homeopath gave you? I was diagnosised with pf 3 years ago and could barely walk when i got out of the bed in the morning. i am a police officer and i understand sometimes this is called policemans heal however i do not believe it was caused by walking but rather spending 12 hours a day in a car with my feet hanging down and not keeping them stretched back. i suffered severe disability in my left foot and partial in my right with no relief. doctors gave me arch supports and heal lifts and cups. i wore all three at the same time with no relief. now here is the kicker and please tell me if you have ever heard of this treatment before? i am also a thyroid patient and take synthroid, however my doctor is also giving me CYTOMEL. i have long suffered joint pain in my shoulders and hip joints and when i did not think i was getting enough cytomel (or t-3 thyroid hormone ) i bumped the dosage up and within 3 days my feet completely quit hurting and that was a year ago. i later realized my hips legs and shoulders where not hurting either. my endocrinologist told me that yes she had heard of that as a treatment for pf and also fibromialga. if you know anyone with fibrom please pass this info along as my endocrinologist knew i had pf and never told me about treating it with cytomel. not only do i feel better thyroid wise but my feet are 95% and 100% cured.

Re: My success story, with some pitfalls to watch out for PLUS some hope

john h on 5/31/01 at 10:49 (049463)

good story nancy!

Re: My success story, with some pitfalls to watch out for PLUS some hope

Beverly on 5/31/01 at 11:14 (049470)

Nancy,

How good it is to hear from you! Your success story touches my heart far more than any other I've read, because I've followed your ups and downs for the last year. To hear you say that both your feet and ankles are in almost total remission is wonderful to hear! I had hoped you were back having a life and that was why we hadn't heard from you. Thank you so much for posting your success story.

I have a question for you since our diagnosis is so similar. How long did it take you to be able to do mild/passive stretches without bringing on lingering pain at the achilles tendon? I ask that because I developed that 2 months ago and since then it has been very difficult to stretch. I'm just now able to give the iddy-bittyest FootFlexes a try. Not being able to stretch has send my PF backwards.

I wore an ankle brace for a few weeks but had to stop wearing it because it became more uncomfortable than helpful.
I'm giving orthodics yet another try... getting them today!
My best wishes for your continued recovery. Knowing how much you suffered and for so long, I am so very happy to hear how well you are doing.
Beverly

Re: My success story, with some pitfalls to watch out for PLUS some hope

Laurie R on 5/31/01 at 12:53 (049472)

Dear Nancy, Thank you so much for telling your story.... You have helped so many people including myself in more ways then one. I am so proud that you are my friend ..... You deserve to be pain free after all you had to deal with over the last two yesrs....I thank you again my friend ,my mentor .......You Rock nancy!!!!!! Much love to you , Laurie

Re: My success story, with some pitfalls to watch out for PLUS some hope

Christy D on 5/31/01 at 13:51 (049481)

Thank you for sharing xoxoxo

I pray they stay good forever!

Re: My success story, with some pitfalls to watch out for PLUS some hope

Cynthia D on 5/31/01 at 22:35 (049526)

Hi, I was wondering how you were doing. Do you give most of the credit to the homeopathic remedies you are taking? I'm glad you are back to doing what you love. Your words about staying in your life are so true, sometimes chronic pf pain makes you want to crawl up into a hole and never come out!

You reminded us to keep the sunshine in our lives - thanks.

Re: My success story, with some pitfalls to watch out for PLUS some hope

Nancy S. on 6/01/01 at 23:25 (049654)

Glad to hear from you all, and I want to answer the couple of questions in your responses.
Beverly: I think I first noticed the achilles tendons' stiffness and soreness around April or May of 2000. Was diagnosed in June and started PT in July. I was told to do no stretching for quite a while, until my PT finally started me on very gentle stretching and strengthening with the Acu-Flex, which I think I received in September. So I would say from May or June until September I did no stretching -- in fact both my dr. and my PT emphasized rest for those tendons (except for the therapy itself) until the inflammation was brought down; my dr. put my worse foot in the aircast for seven weeks that summer for this very reason -- to rest the achilles and other tendons. For me, I think this laying off aggravating the tendons was important. When enough of the pain and inflammation had subsided (though they certainly weren't gone), I kind of started over getting my feet in shape. I did it very gently and gradually, and actually ended up surprised that they improved at the rate they did. I wish you all the best with your case, Beverly -- keep the faith.
Cynthia, I don't think I can say I give most of the credit to the homeopathic medicines, since other measures had already taken me to the 75% point (Birks, rest, PT, and gentle and non-weight-bearing stretching and strengthening). But homeopathy definitely contributed in a big way to getting me to where I really feel mobile -- not perfectly mobile, but usually without significant pain and without feeling that I have to be aware of limitations every second. In other words, I'm not thinking 'my feet! my feet!' continually, all day every day. I can do things for a long time on my feet now and hardly be aware of them on a conscious level. And it surely is nice after two years! I hope this happens for you and am pulling for you.
Nancy

Re: My success story, with some pitfalls to watch out for PLUS some hope

Rock on 6/05/01 at 19:52 (050021)

Great story of healing yourself !

Re: My success story, with some pitfalls to watch out for PLUS some hope

Cindy H on 6/06/01 at hrmin (050077)

Please tell me what the homeopathic medicines are....Best, Cindy

Re: My success story, with some pitfalls to watch out for PLUS some hope -- to Cindy H.

Nancy S. on 6/07/01 at 09:28 (050139)

Hi Cindy,
Please remember that a homeopathic doctor evaluates the person as a whole, and not just one condition. So what was prescribed for me would probably not be what's prescribed for someone else.
The main ingredients in my medicines are argentum metallicum, rhus. tox., and calcium carbonate (all relating to joint or rheumatic pain, and sprains or strains), plus a little valerian.
After I returned from Mexico and posted about this, a fascinating discussion took place here, and you might want to read those threads. To find them, type in the above search box 'homeopath' -- there will be some earlier posts about it, and then the ones that followed my experience begin on 2/26/01. (I just checked -- you can find them this way.)
Not all my ingredients appear there -- I found a little later that I hadn't read the whole prescription. But the ones most relevant to my feet are those that I listed at the beginning of this post.
Hope this is helpful -- if nothing else, you should enjoy the back-and-forth on homeopathy if you search for and read those threads!
Nancy

Re: My success story, with some pitfalls to watch out for PLUS some hope -- to Cindy H.

Nancy S. on 6/07/01 at 09:48 (050142)

Testing testing . . .
I replied to Cindy H.'s post on the Success Stories board, and my post didn't appear in the reverse-reading of messages on the main index. In fact, I hadn't seen Rock's or Cindy's posts in my reverse-reading -- someone tipped me off that they were there: what's up, I wonder.
Cindy, if you haven't seen the reply, please go to the Success Stories board. It is there.

Re: My success story, with some pitfalls to watch out for PLUS some hope

ann on 7/06/01 at hrmin (052383)

can you tell me what the homeopath gave you? I was diagnosised with pf 3 years ago and could barely walk when i got out of the bed in the morning. i am a police officer and i understand sometimes this is called policemans heal however i do not believe it was caused by walking but rather spending 12 hours a day in a car with my feet hanging down and not keeping them stretched back. i suffered severe disability in my left foot and partial in my right with no relief. doctors gave me arch supports and heal lifts and cups. i wore all three at the same time with no relief. now here is the kicker and please tell me if you have ever heard of this treatment before? i am also a thyroid patient and take synthroid, however my doctor is also giving me CYTOMEL. i have long suffered joint pain in my shoulders and hip joints and when i did not think i was getting enough cytomel (or t-3 thyroid hormone ) i bumped the dosage up and within 3 days my feet completely quit hurting and that was a year ago. i later realized my hips legs and shoulders where not hurting either. my endocrinologist told me that yes she had heard of that as a treatment for pf and also fibromialga. if you know anyone with fibrom please pass this info along as my endocrinologist knew i had pf and never told me about treating it with cytomel. not only do i feel better thyroid wise but my feet are 95% and 100% cured.