If it’s Tuesday this must be . . . a custom orthotics lab
Last month I launched my “If It’s Tuesday …” segments with a post about Cape Cod, and now I’m writing about shoe inserts. That just may be the saddest line I’ve ever written.
Quick segue (because any post about orthotics needs all the segues it can get): I never did explain the origin of “If It’s Tuesday,” though I imagine a lot of you got the reference to “If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium,” a 1969 film about a womanizing tour guide who falls for a straight-laced American woman while on a whirlwind European tour. When I was a kid, I saw the movie on TV and it made a big impression. So now you know.
Where was I? Oh! Shoe inserts. Right: sorry to keep you waiting on that. A few months ago I got out of bed and I was like, “Ow! My heel!” I walked on it and it loosened up . . . but the next morning the same thing happened again, and pretty soon it was hurting all the time, like I had spikes being driven into my heel. Okay, maybe not spikes but . . . you know. Something sharp.
I Googled “pain in heel,” and bingo — I had a diagnosis: plantar fasciitis. (Segue: spell check suggests I change that to “plantar fascists.”) When I started talking to friends about my foot pain — why yes, I am a sparkling conversationalist! — I discovered that 1. plantar fasciitis is remarkably common; and 2. nobody can agree on how to pronounce it. After a couple of weeks, I went to my doctor, who confirmed my diagnosis and gave me suggestions for dealing with the pain along with the unfortunate news that the condition could last for days, weeks or months. For the time being, I’d hold off on orthotics or cortisone shots, which don’t seem to work long term.
I did my exercises. I rolled a frozen water bottle along my sole. I bought a Strassburg sock, which looks like a torture device but that I highly recommend. I dropped a lot of money on some really ugly shoes before falling in love with Dansko clog sandals. In my eyes, they are beautiful. And they make my feet happy.
Bit by bit, my feet improved. When I got out of bed in the morning, my feet no longer hurt. I could go to the grocery store without pain. I could stand at the kitchen sink long enough to do dishes. (And thank God for that.) I could resume my 3-mile morning walk. Or . . . not. Yes, gentle reader, my plantar fasciitis came back. But don’t worry: I’ve got a segue coming up.
On Sunday my friend Tammi is leaving for a tour of Eastern Europe. And I’m not jealous at all! Okay, I’m a wee bit jealous, but happy for her too, and not because I think she’ll fall in love with a tour guide. Tammi is one of my closest friends. We’ve bonded over flea markets, recipes, restaurant suggestions, books, and, yes, plantar fasciitis.
Now that my condition is officially not going away, I’d been meaning to call my doctor for a podiatrist recommendation, but then I looked online and found a place that uses digital imaging to measure feet for orthotics — and produces them quickly. So today Tammi and I showed up for a walk-in appointment . . . only to find the tiny office closed. A half hour after the advertised opening time, the company controller came. And he measured our feet. No, seriously, I’ve placed my feet in the hands of an accountant.
Anyway, here’s how it worked: Tammi and I took turns standing on a pad that measured our feet digitally, and then we walked on the pad to measure our gait. It was kind of like those video games with the dance pad only less frustrating. And quieter.
The moral of the story: wear good shoes before problems develop. And find friends whose bodies will fall apart at roughly the same pace as yours. You’ll always have something to talk about.
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