A big Thank You -- and Optimistic Update

Posted by Nancy S. on 3/22/2000
First and foremost, thank you so much to each of you who respected my tired and somewhat shellshocked need not to post for a while and wrote such kind things (including Robin recently) -- what you all wrote meant a whole lot to me. There are some really wonderful spirits on this board!

One individual seems to have a problem with me when I do post and also when I don't. Occasionally you can't please a person no matter what you do or don't do. I have accepted this about life. I'm not holding any grudges.

When I went into "retreat," I needed to do it Right Then, and my motives involved myself only, as I wrote (summary in two words: stress reduction). I also wrote that I'd check in from time to time, and this is one of those times. I want to let you know that my foot continues to get better! and I hope this provides a little inspiration to others who might be where I once was for some time. Everything that has been helping me I learned from this site and the generosity of people on the board.

When I first found this place, in early December, I had been at an 8-10 pain level for eight months (in large part thanks to an almost useless podiatrist -- Scott must have been a fly on the wall during my appointments). As soon as I found this site, got the right shoes for me (Birks), and stopped trying to walk and work through the pain every day, the level went down to about 4-6. And since then, by implementing further ideas from this board, I am now down to virtually no morning pain and a 1-2 level during the day. My one-year anniversary of coming down with this nasty thing is coming up, and I have high hopes (gee, is there a pun in there somewhere?).

I can't point to any one magical thing in the ingredients of my healing program, and the good results so far can probably only be attributed to the combination. This includes:

** Rest and More Rest -- After getting nowhere for eight months, and continally reinjuring my foot daily (thanks again, doc!), I learned here about the importance of rest and finally took it to heart. I'm nearly at the end of three months of a serious rest period -- still did some walking around the house, and out when I had to (such as gathering food!), but even then often used a cane, the store scooters, etc. I took a hiatus from my funky antiques business, and disconnected myself from my antiques barn -- where I got PF in the first place, working 10 hour days on my feet in rotten shoes on concrete floors and tried to ignore the pain that grew more and more extreme. While resting I still did these things:

** Wore Birks pretty much nonstop when I was on my feet.
** Stretched and strengthened, usually gently (I found the calf stretching to be most helpful -- I literally had some pain-free days in the last month after calf stretching).
** Wore the night splint (which I figured out how to wear correctly only after reading on this site), and sometimes used it during the day too, when resting for more than an hour at a time.
** Started swimming 3 times a week -- no big athletic deal, just kept moving everything in the water for an hour, and always feel great afterwards -- blood circulation very important, I think.
** Went on candida diet for yeast imbalance -- Not only has this helped my whole system, and has me eating more nutritiously than I ever had in my life, but I lost all the extra pounds that had crept on from PF immobility; assume the weight loss is now helping my healing daily.

For the last few weeks, I've been gradually building up more use of my foot -- am back to work in the barn for just 2 or 3 hours a day and using a timer to make myself take a break every hour (otherwise I get carried away!). Have had no setback from this, just feel myself getting stronger again!

I believe the period of serious rest has been crucial, after so many months of reinjuring the foot. But I don't want to sugarcoat it. I guess it depends on your personality, but to my surprise I found it quite difficult (I thought it would be nothing but a relief after working my whole life with no big breaks): Well first of all, and obviously, it put my husband and me in a $ hole. It made me feel even more useless and unaccomplished than I'd been feeling before, when in so much pain. The list of things I'd become incapable of doing during the preceding 8 months of extreme pain actually grew during the rest -- usually not because of pain but because of my choice to avoid it and take care of my foot. A few times the rest had ups and downs painwise early on, and I spent many days in soul-consuming fear that I wasn't really going to get better in the end and be able to return to work (sorry if this sounds "dramatic"). I love my work with a passion, and feeling completely cut off from it caused grief and depression; as a result, though I'd thought I'd use some of this time to play piano, do artwork, put photos in books, trim the cats' toenails for pete's sake! -- none of this happened. Rest can be hard psychologically. It certainly put an end to any secret, unrealistic wishes I had for an extra early (like 20 years early) retirement! A good lesson.

So I'm still working at it, but am far better than a year ago -- and most of the improvement took place in the last three months. I want to encourage everyone not to give up and to keep trying to find the right combinaton of things that work for you (there have been plenty of things that worked for others but that I had to personally discard because they didn't do anything for me, or even made it worse). The hunt is paying off, and I hope that for everyone here.

I have been reading the board from time to time, and have kept up with how everyone is doing. I'm so happy for those of you who are getting better too, and wish perseverance and an end to this pain for everyone else. Never again will I glance at a limping person on the street and assume that person is just tired or something -- I know they're in pain now, and I think this increase in empathy/sympathy is one good thing about PF (and probably any significant pain or crisis in one's life) and is probably making me grow. And never again will I take my feet for granted. I will take care of them for the rest of my life.

Thanks for listening, and I've missed you guys.

All the best from Nancy S.

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