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A Bit Confused But Still Working at Eliminating PF

Posted by Carlos N. on 5/28/04 at 21:32 (151515)

It's been a month and a half now since I got my new custom made orthotics and after a small break-in period they feel great. At the same time I went to a physical therapist because my foot and leg muscles were extremely tight. The therapist has stretched the heck out of me and given me more flexibility overall. I do a lot of the work at home or in the office, stretching whenever I can. I've also been lifting weights to strengthen my legs. However, I still feel stiffness in my legs but not as much as before. The therapist also worked on my misaligned pelvis and helped me with my gait. My guess is those years of over-pronation in my feet caused havoc on my muscles and joints. So at this point two things are playing on my mind:

1. When will the aches and stiffness finally go away? I'm hoping that by December I should be pain free. Is that realistic?
2. Psychologically I'm afraid to embrace life again. I fell into such a deep rut with PF that I forgot what it's like to live without PF. My condition is improving but my mind keeps telling me I have chronic PF. What can I do to get over the mental anguish that apparently keeps me from returning to a life of normalcy?

Lastly, I've been working hard at this for many months now. Beside the things I mentioned above I stay healthy and fit, and I stay very close to my faith to help me cope with the mental aspects of all this.

Re: A Bit Confused But Still Working at Eliminating PF

JEFF on 5/29/04 at 01:32 (151520)

Hey carlos do you live in southern ca? If so, which of all the dr's you've seen has been, or is the best? Also which physiotherapist are you seeing name and # if he's in so cal. thx Jeff

Re: A Bit Confused But Still Working at Eliminating PF

Julie on 5/29/04 at 02:52 (151523)

Carlos, it's good to hear that you are improving. I remember your posts of a few months ago, and your near-desperate state of mind at the time. Since then, your progress, and the change in you - both physical and emotional - has been remarkably rapid. I say this because it might help a bit to know how your journey of the last few months seems to an outsider.

You say that years of over-pronation caused havoc on your muscles and joints. Now you are on the right track: your orthotics are correcting the biomechanical problem, and you are doing the exercises that will help reverse the damage it did to your structure. What took years to do will take time to undo. Try to avoid thinking too far into the future and focus your gaze on 'now': take it a day at a time, and give yourself all credit for faithfully following your regime.

You had PF for ten years, and it's only a few weeks since you began to improve with your orthotics and physical therapy. You're still very close indeed to that long, difficult, painful time, and of course your mind remembers what that was like. Your mind will catch up with your body; it will recognise the improvements that are steadily happenind, and gradually it will let go of the pain and the fear. That will take a while: again, what took years to do won't be undone overnight. But it will happen. For now, as with your exercises, take it a day at a time. Little by little your mind, like your muscles, will ease, and and you'll embrace life again. Have faith.

It's like convalescence - after a bad flu, or pneumonia, or a broken leg, you don't just jump out of bed and back into normal life. When you've been down for a long time it takes time to come back up.

I had PF for only five months: it was a straightforward, typical case that resolved quickly (though it didn't seem quickly at the time!) with conservative treatment. After the pain was gone, it took me a while to believe that it really was over. And there were little setbacks and twinges, and and I would think: 'there it is again'. But after a year or so that faded.

PF actually taught me a lot of useful stuff. I know how to choose shoes now, and I always wear my orthatics or my Arizonas. I avoid going barefoot 99% of the time (except when I'm on a sandy beach when walking barefoot is a big part of embracing life!). I do a lot of hill walking and my feet and I enjoy that even more than I did before PF because my shoes are better suited to it. And I've been able to help other people - students, friends - who have PF. So in a way, life is better post-PF than it was pre-PF. Maybe you will find the same - I hope so.

.

Re: PS

Julie on 5/29/04 at 08:27 (151524)

Carlos, after I wrote my post this morning I went out in the car, and turned the radio on in the middle of a discussion with a man who had spent 18 months walking in India and Southeast Asia. He said it wasn't always easy,that it was often difficult and painful, that there were times when he asked himself 'Do I really want to do this for another six months?' And he would remind himself to stop thinking about the end of the journey, but to focus on this day, this moment, and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

That's what I meant.

Another thought: you might find it helpful to record your improvements, your thoughts and your feelings in a journal. If you haven't done this before, it's a good way of monitoring your progress.
.

Re: A Bit Confused But Still Working at Eliminating PF

Carlos N. on 5/31/04 at 23:15 (151667)

Jeff,

Sorry, but I live in northern Calif.

Re: A Bit Confused But Still Working at Eliminating PF

Carlos N. on 5/31/04 at 23:16 (151668)

Julie,

Thanks for your post. You're like a living legend on this board. I do your yoga stretches often. It's incredible to think that I've lived this long with PF and I've been improving so fast in such a short amount of time. But I know I still have a ways to go at this point. I think the hardest part is behind me. I'm looking forward to a gradual recovery that will allow me to jump back in the driver's seat and re-direct my life. I've been so burnt out the last few years that it's going to take a lot of energy and strength on my part to regain my momentum.

But thanks again for your support and feedback. This board has been so important in my recovery. Everyone here is great and I hope to keep fighting on and beat this PF real soon.

Re: A Bit Confused But Still Working at Eliminating PF

Julie on 6/01/04 at 02:11 (151670)

Carlos, thank you for your kind words. I'm glad if the yoga exercises are part of what is helping you.

Your strength and energy will return gradually and one day you'll wake up and realise that 'burnt out' state of mind is gone. In time you probably won't even remember what it was like. Meanwhile, take it easy, one day at a time, one step at a time.
.

Re: A Bit Confused But Still Working at Eliminating PF

Kathy G on 6/01/04 at 09:18 (151687)

Carlos,

I'm still not at a stage where I can completely forget my feet but I am doing much better than I used to. I use a rather trite example to illustrate. I live in a small town where we have two supermarkets. One of them carries particular products that my family prefers and the other doesn't. One is a super-sized market; the other is small. Because I no longer work, I like to take advantage of the specials each offers but it often means going to both markets most weeks.

Up until about six months ago, I would shop at each market on a different day because my feet wouldn't tolerate going to both of them. I also had to use my handicapped placard when I went to the larger store. Now, I'm happy to report, I can go to them both on the same day and never use the handicapped parking spaces. I'm able to come home and put away the groceries and run up and down the stairs from my basement, where I have a freezer and extra storage cabinets. I can then continue my day's routine and not suffer any unusual foot pain.

This has happened gradually. The first time I did it, it was out of necessity and I was amazed that I had no ill effects. Now, I just take it for granted. But it did take a while for my brain to allow my feet to do this, so I understand what you mean.

You really need to continue to think about your feet because moderation is the key to recovery. Each week, you'll be able to do more and more but it is better to take baby steps rather than giant leaps. You've made great progress but your mind is reminding you that you have a chronic condition that is getting better but is still present. I think you will soon find a happy medium between taking it easy and resuming your normal activities.

And I don't want to rain on your parade but remember, you will still have bad days, but you'll find your recovery time gets to be less and less.

It's so nice to hear when someone has made the progress that you have!

Re: Julie - Oh, One Last Thing...

Carlos N. on 6/01/04 at 21:06 (151746)

Julie:

More and more I've been flirting with the idea that much of what is going on in my head maybe exacerbating my promblem with PF. I've never been great with dealing with stress and I've learned that much of my body is holding in my stress rather than releasing it through exercise, meditation, or other channels.

Have you had any personal experience with this? If so, I'd like to know what techniques are avialable to deal with the stress or thoughts one holds and PF. I know there's a link between the two but I don't know how to break this cycle.

Thanks,
Carlos

Re: Julie - Oh, One Last Thing...

Julie on 6/02/04 at 01:39 (151758)

Carlos, yes, there's always a link. We're not just 'bodies' (though pain can often delude us that that's all there is to us); we're whole beings: body, mind, emotions, spirit, and whatever happens on one level has effects on all the other levels. So it's good that you're wondering about techniques to help to break the cycle.

I would suggest that you look into learning some relaxation techniques. You could do this in a class, if you can find a suitable one, or you could investigate audio cassettes. There are many. Here is a link to a Yoga Nidra tape that I think is particularly good: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/9163094886/103-9623893-8535048?v=glance .

I have made a relaxation tape that also includes some simple, calming breathing exercises. If you are interested, you can email me for more information - my email address (without spaces) is juliefried @ clara. co. uk.

Meditation is certainly another option, but if you are new to all this, it would be better to start with relaxation and breathing. Do let me know if I can be of any more help.
.

Re: Julie - Oh, One Last Thing...

john h on 6/02/04 at 09:33 (151776)

Carlos: I was reading the most current book on Pain published by the Mayo Clinic. It noted among other things stress can produce back pain, hives, stomach pain, acne, and a long list of other visable problems. Without a doubt there is a stong body/mind connection. We in the west are not very good at harnessing our mind/body connection. In the east they are much better equipped both through religion and culture. I always like to refer the Buddahist who can lower their pulse and blood pressure to unbelievable low levels. They also (according to studies) can better endure pain. I am to much into science and have the attitude of prove it so I am not good at mind control. I know in my head about the connection but my heart fights it all the way. I have never been able to be hypnotized because I believe I cannot be hypnotized. I spent 2 years in Thailand in the northern jungle area and have seen Buddah Monks do amazing things. They will sometime go live in a cave for a year with no human contact in remote areas and just meditate. I could do that for about 24 hours.

Re: Julie - Oh, One Last Thing...

Dorothy on 6/02/04 at 11:32 (151788)

John H. - But you ARE good at 'mind control'. We all are. We just don't usually have any insights as to why, what, how, for what purpose, etc.
Your 'heart fights it all the way' is one aspect of your own mind control - your 'system' is structured in such a way for that to be part of your 'defenses', your own life-way, and that may serve you very well, or not. Only you with your own process/journey could learn more about that, if you chose to begin.

On the other hand, old acquaintances of ours, long-time Buddhists, made journeys to Nepal Tibet and India. One member of their group was a physician who was going to examine the guru they were going to see - yes, an old man on top of the mountain, literally, in an ancient monastery - He is a Buddhist, rinpoche....lifelong monk, great teacher .... he was greatly afflicted with diabetes and all the attendant problems from that and having great difficulty sleeping.
They did not comment on that particularly, but my unstated thought was: wouldn't his long-standing abilities through practice help him to sleep?
I don't know. I really have a very superficial body of information about Buddhism, but it interests me - as do several faiths.

On the other hand, I've been reading/hearing a number of people lately say that introspection, self-exploration 'robs one of one's joy' and is contradictory of sources of 'true' joy and happiness.

You say you are 'too much into science' but does it have to be either/or?
There is a nice publication called 'Science & Spirit' (which you can read online actually) which you might find interesting.

Well, these things are on my mind today as I seek some peace and calm. The doctor considered the history and situation and had the blood tests done to rule out Hodgkins disease or leukemia. I've had biopsies done in the past for other health issues and whether it's those or blood tests, it's the little waiting period that tests one's ability to calm the mind...something I'm not all that good at anyway! So, tell me, john h: what do you think the monks were doing??

Re: Julie - Oh, One Last Thing...

Dorothy on 6/02/04 at 18:08 (151827)

JOHN H. - one last thing: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the delightful Sherlock Holmes, was both a physician and a 'spiritualist'. I seem to recall that he was very much into seances, as was Houdini. IMHO, that is way over the edge, beyond the fringes.... but all I'm saying is Doyle did apparently combine science (medicine), spiritual exploration, and art (writing). Ok - I'm off the topic. If you take up Elliott's challenge, you can ponder these matters while you circle the track, which I hope is a very soft one and level and curative.

Re: Dorothy

wendyn on 6/02/04 at 22:19 (151850)

Dorothy, I know the waiting is hard.

Re: Julie - Oh, One Last Thing...

john h on 6/03/04 at 11:51 (151894)

I did not know Conan Doyle was a physician. He certainly has some memorable lines that will live forever. I had heard he was a spiritualist. Wonder if he ever really tried cocaine? Probably did as it was often a part of his stories. I am not ready to take off running. Just a passing crazy thought..

Re: Julie - Oh, One Last Thing...

john h on 6/03/04 at 12:03 (151896)

I think the Monks were in a world that I know nothing about. During there year in the caves they did not speak to anyone. I was on top of this mountain overlooking the jugles of Laos. You could not drive there and had to walk the last 5 or 6 miles. None of the Monks who were there would speak. I once rode a train from Bankok to Nakon Phanom which is about 300 miles to the northeast and sat with 2 Buddahist Monks. They spoke perfect English and asked me more questions than I asked them. They appeared very educated to me.