I almost canceled the appointment when my foot started feeling so good - why should I go in there if it's getting better, especially if I know he'll just yell at me for doing the River Run? - but it took me two and a half weeks to get a space, and this foot has certainly pulled trickery like that before ('I'm getting better, oh, no, wait, only kidding, now it hurts again'), so I kept it, and I'm glad I did.
You know, I like the UF health care center. I do. I think they're a very worthy institution, and they've given me a lot of help for things like bronchitis, flu shots, and birth control pills. But they do not know jack squat about my foot. After about two weeks of pain, I went to see my UF doctor, telling her my history and adding, "This feels like the same kind of pain as before, when I had a bone deformity similar to a bone spur on the back of my heel bone, but the pain's in a different place this time. I have 'good weeks' and 'bad weeks' with this foot all the time, yes, but this is different; the pain hasn't been this bad, or of this quality, in nine years." The conversation went something like this:
"Okay, well, I would just suggest taking ibuprofen--"
"I've been doing that for two weeks."
"--and icing it--"
"Yes, already doing that."
"--and avoiding impact activities--"
"Again, way ahead of you."
"--and maybe getting some gel inserts for your shoes--"
"I've been wearing $400 custom orthotics since I was 13."
And so on and so forth. She halfheartedly suggested X-rays, which I agreed to; then she slapped the films up onto the light for ten seconds and said, essentially, "Yeah, nothing wrong with the bones; must be a soft-tissue thing."
Two weeks later - a week before my podiatrist appointment - I got a sheepish voicemail message from the UF doctor which said, "Um, well, we had radiology look at the films, and you actually do have a little bone spur down there. So, uh, come in and see me if you're not feeling better."
(Relating this story in Dr. Adler's office, he interrupted me after the words "little bone spur" and said, "No, you have a very big bone spur down there! For your age, it's very large." Lots of people have calcaneal spurs which cause no problems at all, which I knew already, so even though it wasn't the bone spur which was directly causing my pain, I felt vindicated. Damn UF doctors and their airy, wait-and-see approach. I am not a hypochondriac, and I'm not afraid of a little pain. I don't go to the doctor unless I feel that something is really wrong. Therefore, I don't want to be treated casually and dismissed after two minutes. Learn to read an X-ray, please.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Anyway, so I went to see Dr. Adler on Monday morning. First, I got the usual rap from the nurse: blood pressure reading, quick history, quick assessment of the current symptoms. "Girl, he's gonna be so happy to see you!" the nurse said. (Everyone likes me in that office; I suspect it's partly because I'm the youngest patient I've ever seen there by about forty years.)
And he was happy - while sitting in the exam room waiting for the doctor to come in, I could hear the nurse giving him a quick overview outside the door, ("... thirteen years old... been doing well for a long time...") and his enthusiastic response of "Excellent!" Without further ado, the door was flung open and I looked into the familiar smiling face that I hadn't seen in so long.
"Jessica!" He shook my hand, asked about school and my family, and looked genuinely thrilled to be there with me. We chatted for a few minutes, and then he started checking me over, pressing various places on my foot and checking for pain. I hadn't seen any doctor outside the health care center for the past few years, and I was struck by the differences. In short, Dr. Adler gave off an overwhelming impression of competence. He listened carefully to everything I said, looked at the ways in which my shoes were worn down, tested the fit of my orthotics against my bare feet, asked all the right questions ("Does it hurt worse when you get up in the morning?"), and described everything using medical terminology ("pronate", etc.). I was so unused to being treated as though I had a functioning brain that I actually found myself with a lump in my throat at one point. What a relief! Somebody gets it!
His opinion was something reasonably simple, but something which - embarrassingly enough - had never entered my mind for a moment. My custom-made orthotics were worn down. They are made of hard plastic, thoroughly inflexible, designed seven years ago from plaster casts of my feet, and I had never even considered the possibility that they could wear down. However, once Dr. Adler explained how exactly the orthotics worked and what they were designed to correct in my case, using his hands to demonstrate, it all made perfect sense. That's the reason that the pain keeps moving. That's the reason I can't roll forward, heel to toe, in a normal gait. That's the reason I've been walking on the outside edge of my foot, unable to change that pattern even though I recognized it. That's the reason my pinky toe got squished during the River Run. Everything suddenly made sense.
So they made new casts of my feet (the process of which actually feels nice, like some sort of spa treatment), and a new pair of (*gulp* $400) orthotics will show up on my doorstep around the end of the month. At which point all my problems should, in theory, be solved.
It made me want to cry, really. That he took me seriously, that he looked at physical evidence other than just my word, that he reached a conclusion I hadn't considered, that he explained everything in detail, that he talked to me as though I had a brain, that he, dare I say it, figured out the problem - it was unbelievable. I smiled uncontrollably for the rest of the morning. If there is a better doctor somewhere out there, I haven't met him (or her) yet.
Okay, yes, I know, enough gushing about my podiatrist. But if you had any idea about my sense of relief and gratitude on Monday morning... you'd write long, gushing blog entries too.
In other news, I finally (in typical Jess fashion, weeks behind the rest of the world) saw Brokeback Mountain, and I enjoyed it. It wasn't quite as good as I'd built it up to be in my head, but it was a very good movie and provided a lot of food for thought. Mom noticed some symbolism, too, like the fact that every single place in the movie was ugly and run-down (Ennis' trailers, Jack's parents' house, etc.) except for Brokeback Mountain itself, which was stunningly beautiful, and the only place the two men ever saw each other. Stuff like that. Bottom line: it was sad, but I enjoyed it enough that if I find it cheap on DVD someday, I'll buy it.
Today Mom and I took my grandmother (in the early to mid stages of Alzheimer's) to her weekly hair appointment, and then out to wander around the mall. Mom takes her out every Wednesday, both for a change of scenery and to give my grandfather a break. Today was a good day; she hardly repeated herself at all, and she had a little more 'spark', a little more of a sense of awareness than I've seen in her lately. We had lunch at Chik-Fil-A and shopped (mostly for me) at American Eagle, Old Navy, and Dillards. In case anyone cares, I also finally got a professional bra fitting and discovered my true size, which was simultaneously awesome and shocking (because how the heck did I get DDDs out of my A cup mother?). Listen to Oprah, ladies: if it's not fitting you quite right, try going a band size down and a cup size up.
After we dropped Grandma back off at home, Mom and I drove out to the outlet mall and that's where we really went nuts: at Banana Republic. I bought a black T-shirt from them in 2002 on a quick rest stop on the way down to Disney (I was roasting in the long sleeves I'd been wearing and grabbed the first tee off the rack without even trying it on), and it turned out to be my favorite shirt ever. I've worn it so much that it's not really even black anymore. We'd been talking about driving out to the outlet mall to try to find a couple more of those shirts, since they don't have them at the Banana Republics at the Jacksonville malls, so we went today. And, well, walked out with four pairs of pants and six shirts. LOL! Everything was dirt cheap - T-shirts for $7, cords for $20 - and Mom also insisted on buying me a pair of dress pants and a couple of button-down shirts, which, truth be told, I really did need. I dress like a slob most of the time because I bike everywhere, and who wants tire splashes on their dress pants and sweat on their button-downs? But if I get roped into teaching classes in grad school, I won't be doing it in tank tops and short shorts.
Anyhow, it's been a successful week. Not particularly lucrative - work still hasn't called, and I'm starting to doubt that they ever will - but successful nonetheless. I've gotten a chance to relax (I can nap whenever I want, Mom and Dad cook for me sometimes, we went to Carrabba's tonight (and saw Jaguars player Moe Williams there!), I swam with my Jacksonville Masters team last night (and did well), and we all watched As Good As It Gets last night, which I loved) and with the exception of my right calf (strained) and my right heel (duh), the rest of my body is fully recovered from the River Run. Yes, progress is being made. I needed this break.
On tap for the rest of the week: go to the Bookmine and Goodwill, do my online French work, and possibly work a day or two.
I'll leave you with one last disturbing thought about our administration (because I can't go a day without pushing my political agenda, now can I?) A friend of my mom's, who is very active in the Democratic party, has been telling her some pretty disturbing stuff he's found out about 9/11 - how the White House may have known about it all along, that they were practicing for it, etc. He wrote an passionate letter (via e-mail) to the editor of his local paper, exposing these theories... and it never got printed. Upon contacting the paper, he discovered that it had never been received. And upon checking his Sent Mail folder... he discovered that it had disappeared. Everything else was still there - all the sent mail before and after the message to the paper - but the political e-mail was gone, as though it had never existed. This, in my mind, lends a lot more credibility to my mom's and my suspicions about the monitoring of our e-mail and online activities. (Nothing quite that weird has happened to us - yet - but other things have.)
Anyhow, if this post disappears, I'll know why. As some TV comedian or other said the other night: "This administration could hide an elephant in a jewelry shop."