My [stupid] left foot

August 10, 2011

Story time!

Back in March of 2002, I went on one of my first real “dates” with WD.  I was 6 months’ separated/divorced, and venturing out.  The girls were with their father for the weekend, and WD and I made a day of it.  We went to China Town, we went to the SFMOMA to see a Chagall exhibit, and we went to see the first Lord of the Rings movie.

While we were at the SFMOMA, I kind of … fell.  Down the center staircase.  It was bad.  I hurt my foot and ankle.  To say the least.

After being unable to walk for the rest of the weekend, I went to the doctor on the following Monday.  He took an x-ray, and sent me on my way, saying everything was fine.  It was a sprain.

Following the Incident, my ankle spent a lot of time being sore.  Not only was it sore, but it was ridiculously prone to twisting.  The weather would affect it.  It was yucky.

Sometime after I started working here, at this firm, I started to have pain in other parts of my foot.  In particular, in my big toe joints.  First it felt like I had to crack the knuckle but couldn’t – then it started to just hurt all the time.  Especially when wearing high heeled shoes.

It did not hurt when I was wearing flats or sneakers.  Didn’t hurt when I exercised – only when I wore heels.

I eventually went to a podiatrist.  In early 2009.  He took x-rays of my ankle and prodded at my toes.  He said that the doctor in California was wrong, I did break some of the bones in my ankle back in 2002.  He said the toe joints were probably bone spurs, and I should have surgery to remove floating bone chips in my ankle and to saw off the bone spurs.  He said I’d probably need 2 weeks out of work for each foot, and he didn’t recommend doing them at the same time.  I went home and pouted.  How the heck was I going to get 2 weeks off from work twice, 6 months apart?

And I decided it didn’t actually hurt all that much, after all.

But that summer, the pain increased significantly, especially in my left toe joint.

So I went back.  He decided to actually x-ray the toe joints.  Oooh, big bone spurs.  Yeah, you need surgery.

I scheduled the surgery for Christmas-time.  Work traditionally slows down during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and 2009 was a year that the Ex was scheduled to have the girls for the holiday, so I could recuperate without affecting their vacation-time.

Because these things always happen when I try to anticipate scheduling needs at work, I ended up prepping for a trial during the end of 2009, and the time off was a hell of a lot less than convenient.  I went through with the surgery, and still believe that the time off that week affected my position on that trial team.

Also, the Ex and his second wife announced a pregnancy, with a December due date.  Meaning the girls would not be going there for the holiday.

But at this point, my toe joints were so painful, every time I thought about putting off the surgery, I had to think about not being able to walk.  The trial we were prepping for was going to be in a courthouse that was in walking distance from the office, and I could not imaging walking there and back at least once a day (and as it turned out, us associates did it several times a day, sometimes running in our heels to grab the notes off the partner’s desk that he had accidentally left behind).

So I had surgery on December 21st.  It was fine.  I had no complications.  I was back at work within 2 weeks, in a surgery shoe for a couple of days, but then back to pretty-much-normal.

I was less than thrilled with the way the scars ended up healing, but it is not a big deal.

Earlier this year, I was pretty surprised to realize that when I wore heels, my left toe joint was hurting.  I thought maybe I needed to stretch it out a bit more.  But then, over time, a lump started to appear on the joint.  At least as of this May, I started to think that my bone spur was back.*  So with a sigh of frustration, I started shopping for flats.  Because come on  – I can’t have surgery every two years.  That’s just ridiculous.

A couple of weeks ago, my mother came to visit.  She saw my bare foot and exclaimed with horror at the lump on my toe.  “If you don’t do something about that, you won’t be able to wear ANY shoes!”

For some reason, her reaction made me think I had to do something other than buy more shoes.

I talked to a podiatrist I know, because I was irritated with my past doctor.  He said I shouldn’t be irritated, and I should go back.  He said it did look like something was going on – whether it was scar tissue or more bone spurring, he couldn’t be sure without an xray, and it would be best to have it looked at by the person who remembers the surgery.

Yesterday, I went back.  When I first saw the doctor, he looked and poked and prodded.  Said there was definitely something there, said my range of motion was great, and sent me to get an xray.  When I came back from xray, he saw me again.  He brought with him the xrays from October of 2009, when my pain pushed me over the edge to saying yes to surgery, from 12/22/09, immediately post op, and from yesterday.  Before surgery – big bone spur, decent joint.  After surgery – no bone spur, decent joint. Yesterday – new (smaller) bone spur, bad joint looking arthritic.  Twenty months later.

This is kind of how my foot looks:

I told him that I was very surprised.  That after surgery, he did tell me that they may come back, but I was thinking 10-15 years, not 10-15 months.  He said he was also surprised, and he never would have anticipated a rebuilding of the spur so quickly.  He said he thinks that my foot bone that leads to my big toe is slightly elevated, and that it’s causing the odd angle that is creating the spurs.  He wants to do another surgery.

A yucky surgery.

He wants to go in to my foot and saw through that foot bone and take a piece out of it, and then put screws in it to keep it together, shortened, and thereby stop the rubbing and the joint degeneration.  He said the recuperation time will be longer – it will be 8 weeks before I can resume complete normal activity, and 4 weeks in a surgery shoe.

My eyes popped out of my head.

So we talked about the fact that there’s no rush.  I can continue as I am until the pain becomes unbearable.  In order to keep it from growing further in the meantime (and therefore hurting more), he suggested that I wear flats instead of heels, take anti-inflammatories when it hurts and ice it if it swells, and that I choose exercise that is less impactful than running.

Now I have 2 doctors telling me not to run.

First of all, I’m still ignoring them on the running.  The first doctor who told me not to run was my primary care physician, based on my complaints of back pain.  Well, I didn’t stop, and the back pain went away on its own.  So there.

Second of all, I will continue my transition to flats.  While grumbling.

Third of all, I will get a second opinion.  My podiatrist-friend gave me another name, and I will go there and see what he thinks.

In the meantime, I am frustrated, and I hate my foot.

[the right foot, by the way, is perfect, except for the scars from the 12/09 surgery.]


* Bone spur is not a bunion — it’s a much easier surgery, and is a build up of a bone that occurs when bones rub together where they’re not supposed to.  This website has a pretty good explanation of the problem, the surgery I had, and even the surgery that the doctor is recommending.  Be warned:  there are a couple nasty pictures of an open foot during surgery.



  1. Ugh — sorry! Hope it doesn’t get too painful in the meantime

  2. Yuck. That just sucks.

  3. I got a similar situation with my ankle. Thank you for the information.

  4. […]  Did you suffer illness or injury?  Well, other than my persistent bad foot – no.  I don’t even think I had a cold.  Oh – I had my first back pain of my […]


  6. I have the same thing on the exact same place. I also refuse to stop running…LOL

  7. Since you seem very intelligent, go look up Wolf’s Law. Your body is continually absorbing bone from where there is little pressure and redistributing if to areas with more impact. Look up carpenter’s thumb. Carpenter’s build bone deposits in their hand where the handle hits them. If you bang your feet on the ground (running) and distort your toes into heels and ignore the pain telling you to stop; your body will continue to try to reinforce the bone there. It is a life lesson. Stop pushing. Listen and respond to what your body needs. Start ignoring what your mind wants. Good luck in your healing.

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