I’ve had pain in my right foot for a few weeks now. I’ve tried icing it and soaking it. I’ve resorted to flat shoes. I’ve stretched it and done exercises. Nothing has worked except ibuprofen at regular intervals and – gasp! – not running. The pain is concentrated on the ball and instep of the foot. Finally, I succumbed to a podiatrist recommended by my coworker, Lisa.
“You won’t regret it. Dr. Baumgartner is good,” she said, beaming.
Hmm. I don’t like going to the doctor, generally. They never seem to know what to do when I’ve had running injuries. Maybe this time will be different.
I pulled up the bossy GPS lady on my phone after I typed in the address. I don’t know Olympia very well. I ended up on the highway, which worked. I pulled into the tiny lot of a medical complex tucked into a residential neighborhood. The sun brought out the blossoming trees and a fresh breeze made me feel optimistic. I got out of the car. A lady greeted me.
“Do you know where Big Rock Medical is?” she asked me as she smoked a cigarette, limping towards me. I thought maybe we were headed to the same place.
“I don’t”, I adm
itted. “I was hoping you knew where the Foot and Ankle Clinic was?”
She pointed to a building behind us.
“I think it’s there. I took my boyfriend there once.”
The building, sans signage, opened into a lobby. Children’s drawings covered the walls and underside of the desk. All the cards on the empty reception desk listed mental health professional as their title. Nope. Not the place. I wonder what her boyfriend was *really* doing here?
I pulled up Ms. GPS again and realized I hadn’t gone far enough down the street. Back out, and left, and then I reached my destination. I asked for Dr. Berger at the counter.
“Um…we don’t have a Dr. Berger. This is a podiatry clinic. Do you have an appointment?”
Yes, I do, I thought, a little miffed. Then I realized I got his name wrong.
“Do you mean Dr. Baumgartner?” the receptionist was quick, I’ll give her that.
“Yes, ” I said, relieved. Oy.
The tech took me back a few minutes later. She asked about the pain – when, where, how, etc. Then she took X-rays of each foot, bottoms and sides. I sat in an enormous leather examination chair and she removed my socks.
Ahh, my neglected feet! They haven’t seen sunshine in about 6 months. I cringed a little.
“Um, my feet are gross. Sorry,” I mumbled.
She looked at them.
“No, they’re not,” she said with a smile. Ah, kindness. I like it here already.
Dr. B. came in next. A sandy-haired mustachioed man with crinkly blue eyes and a medium build, he shook my hand with a smile. He started moving my feet back and forth and telling a new slender, shiny-haired tech his findings. She jotted things on my electronic chart as he pointed out callouses and the beginnings of baby bunions. Baby bunions! Nooo!
Dr. B. moved to the X-rays.
“See your big toe? There’s a little spur growing out of it. It makes your big toe rub against your index toe. Now, your second toe is starting to rise up. That’s why you have inflammation there. Good thing you came in. The pain would have spread down the rest of your toes otherwise.” He also pointed out a corresponding bunion bud on the other big toe. Great.
“I can shave off your callouses. You have some on the bottom of your feet as well as the outside of the big toe. You have some chafing going on there.”
I always thought callouses were running’s badges of honor, along with hammer toes and black toenails. Maybe I was wrong.
“But first, I need to give you a shot in the top of your foot. It’s a cousin to cortisone and will reduce the inflammation. You’ll hurt after the numbing agent wears off, but it’ll be good, I promise.”
Um. Do I have a choice? I don’t think I signed up for this…
“Look up at the balloons,” he directed. Conveniently located in the ceiling lights, an inlay of a couple of colorful hot air balloons designed to distract patients from imminent pain.
He sprayed something cold on the top and bottom of my right foot. Then he stuck the needle in. I felt it go down, down. I took deep breaths and thought about soaring high in the sky in a beautiful balloon. Time stood still. More than 30 seconds went by. The needle plunged deeper.
“Are you okay?” Dr. B. asked.
“I’m good,” I squeaked. Breathe, breathe, I told myself. Don’t pass out.
“Three…two…one…okay, we’re done.” Dr. B. pulled out the needle and applied a Band-Aid.
“Here are some orthotics to put in your shoes.” He handed me two half-size inserts. “We can talk about custom ones for your running shoes the next time. You’ll need to move them to the shoes you’re using. They usually run around $650 before insurance.”
Boing! Somehow, I was not excited about this prospect. Not excited about orthotics forever, either.
But to run without pain, does price matter? I would love it. I go back next week for a follow up. I’m wearing the plastic orthotics, working up by an extra hour each day. Today, the spot where I got the shot hurts, but nothing else. It’s working already. Of course, I continue to pray for healing, but He works through many means. I’m grateful for knowledgeable doctors.