I strapped “The Boot” on my busted foot and headed out to a client meeting in Carefree, Arizona. I had just been given the news the day before that my right foot had suffered a double stress fracture of the 3rd and 4th metatarsals. The soft tissue stress reaction associated with the injury had me in pretty intense pain with a very swollen foot. I put on my best “good attitude” and down played the pain I was in so we could go about our business. The younger guy at the meeting, always one to bust my balls any chance he gets, said, “We’ve been working together for what…10 years now? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you where your foot wasn’t hurt. What the hell do you keep doing to yourself?”
Could he be right? I know it’s an exaggeration but could this really go back that far?
The first time I went to the doctor with pain in my right foot I got no answers. It could be a stress fracture, it could be a bruise, it could be a chronic condition like gout or arthritis – was the report from the non-committal doctor. The X-rays showed nothing. They put me in a boot back then too, but the pain was even worse in the boot so I didn’t wear it very long. That was over 10 years ago.
I know I have a protein sensitivity and occasional problems with gout. The pain can be intense. The pain can be so intense it can feel like a broken bone, sometimes worse. It can cause swelling and mobility issues. So here’s the problem: How can I tell the difference?
Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the injury I sustained over a decade ago was a stress fracture. A bad stress fracture that needed a lot of time to heal. Could it be possible that I’ve been chasing the same recurring injury for 10 years because I never gave it enough time to heal properly? I’m pretty stubborn, and I’ll work through pain as long as I can if I don’t think it’s a serious injury. I do try to listen to my body, let it tell me when I need to slow down and when I need to stop…but a little pain isn’t reason to stop. Not usually.
Talking to the doctor, it seems this is exactly the case. And the reason why it became a double stress fracture this time. The original fracture never healed completely and created a weak point allowing the crack in the adjacent metatarsal. The worst part about this news is that it feels very much like my current problem was brought on by my own stubbornness and stupidity.
Four pivotal weeks out of commission this Summer, and at least two more weeks of restriction before I can really start using it. Plans have been cancelled, time lost, my fitness has suffered and my cameras are collecting dust. The good news is the pain is gone, there are more plans on the horizon and I can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Time to dust off the gear and make plans to get outside.
I have to let this injury heal properly, I can’t afford to do this again. I want to hike, I want to climb, I don’t handle the down time well.
I’d like to hear from you guys. I’d like to know who has gone through something like this before? How did you handle it? Do you still worry about re-injuring yourself? Has it changed how you pursue physical activities?