Outside of the ability to read minds, the ability to walk is inarguably one of the most important things that a waitress “brings to the table”. (Get it? Get it? Ha-ha!) I have, for some time now, been having some trouble with the latter. For the record, I gave up on the former years ago. (Just because you ordered no cheese on your burger does not mean that I was able, from this request, to suss out that your body is unable to break down the enzymes that are present in dairy products. If you’re lactose-intolerant, you need to tell me that. Otherwise, your salad, like everyone else’s will have cheese sprinkled on top of it!)
My left foot became problematic back in July. So, I diagnosed myself with the return of the plantar fasciitis that has plagued me on and off for years — seventeen of them to be exact. That’s nearly two decades, folks! It first reared its ugly head post-childbirth. Thanks, Fangette!
As I always do when this affliction presents itself, I took anti-inflammatories, iced my heel, and performed the prescribed stretching exercises — all the things that in the past have led to a speedy recovery from this painful and annoying condition. Unfortunately, this round went to the plantar fasciitis. Did I mention that I’ve been suffering since July? I have been. Since July. It’s been maddening.
In a last ditch effort at self-treatment, I bought a pair of Birkenstocks because my sister, who is genetically predisposed to the same high arch that makes folks more susceptible to this nonsense — a fact that I learned by working for a podiatrist and by reading Web MD — swore that they provided her with some relief. The Birks did the same for me. That’s the up side. The down side to being a Birkenstock wearer are the cravings I now experience for things like alfalfa sprouts and granola.
While the Birkenstocks were a godsend in my regular life, my workplace frowns upon exposed toes (even ones as pretty as mine) and demands oil-resistant, certified slip-proof footwear. So, no Birkenstocks for this waitress! I bought myself a new pair of Dansko’s for work — to replace the worn ones that had, truth be told, seen better days.
Unfortunately for my wallet, my foot did not get the memo — the one where I explained that I was doing all the things that I was supposed to do (and more) to combat this ridiculous inflammatory condition. Impervious to the several hundred dollars that I had invested in new shoes and enormous bottles of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication AND to my seventeen times a day stretching and icing routine, the damn thing remained tight. And the pain grew worse — in fact, it became unremitting.
I had to resign myself to the fact that the normal course of treatment was not working. I was going to have to break down and go to the podiatrist. Ugh!
Doctors annoy me. They just do. I find that, on the whole, doctors fall into two categories. They are either smarmy and condescending, which I find irritating, or they are brusque and condescending, which I prefer. My previous doctor fell into the latter category. He was thorough, but he had no time for small talk. I love that in a doctor. It’s hit or miss, though, finding one like that. It’s not like you can call up for an appointment and the office worker will be honest with you about her boss’s bedside manner. Even if she thinks he’s an asshole, it’s unlikely that she’ll reveal that information to a stranger over the telephone.
I am not, believe it or not, a patient patient. So, when this guy walked in and said, smarmily, “So, you think you have plantar fasciitis, huh?” My response was, “No. I know that I have plantar fasciitis.”
“Why do you think you have plantar fasciitis?”, he asked, condescendingly.
“Well, mainly because I was diagnosed with it years ago. It returns from time to time. Usually, I just do the stretching exercises, take some NSAIDs, whip out the old ice pack and BAM! it goes on its merry way! Not this time, though. This time it has pretty much taken up residence. It seems to be in for the long haul. Know what I mean?”
That was the last question I would ask him. Because he answered me with a great deal of what I considered unnecessary and, quite frankly, anecdotal information. Great! He was smarmy, condescending, AND a yakker. Oh, happy, happy day!
He made me demonstrate the technique that I employ when doing the stretching exercises. He seemed pretty impressed that I could master following a set of simple instructions — instructions available to anyone who can type “plantar fasciitis stretching exercises” into an internet search engine. (“fasciitis” is a tough one, I’ll give you that!)
We then discussed Motrin — at length. At great length. Yeah, dude, I mastered Motrin-taking years ago. I used to be hung over. A lot.
He asked me if there had been any recent changes to my exercise regimen. I responded in the negative, explaining that I don’t do much in the way of exercise — unless you count things like hauling laundry up and down the stairs, cleaning out closets, and/or organizing cabinets forms of exercise. He didn’t seem to want to count those things. I explained that I pretty much get all my exercise now in the same way that I’ve always gotten it — at work — by making a hundred trips to fetch extra butter, lemons, and napkins to the high-maintenance tables that are the bane of my existence.
Following some very limited poking and prodding, he then went on to make the stunning and unsurprising diagnosis of — wait for it — plantar fasciitis. He then found it necessary to launch into a far too long explanation of my very high arches. I could not help thinking, as the minutes ticked away, that this was time that I would surely regret wasting one day, when I’m on my death bed — precious minutes that I can never recoup. Minutes spent chit-chatting about arches.
I also knew that he was gearing up to sell me $500 worth of orthotics — devices which I may, indeed, need. I’m not arguing with that. Custom orthotics, though, take time to manufacture. And time to mold. It’s a process. A process that I was in no mood to engage in today. Today, you see, I needed immediate relief — before I killed someone. Sadly, that someone would probably be Fang — not because he is in any way responsible for my plantar fasciitis, but because he’s handy.
As Dr. Kildare was droning on about arches in general, mine in particular, what orthotics are, how they are made, why people like me often need them, how much relief they bring, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, I waited patiently for what I knew he would eventually get to, but that would not put the same amount of money in his pocket that selling me on the orthotics would — the cortisone injection. Before I even got there this morning I knew that, if offered, I was going to take a ride on the cortisone train. The cortisone injection was not something that I could do myself. If I could have, I wouldn’t have been in his office at all. Trust me on that one.
I didn’t even ask if it was going to be painful. I knew that it would be. And I didn’t want to hear any bullshit about how “this might ‘sting’ a little”. That’s what they always say. It’s been my experience that their definition of “sting” is far different from mine. They also like to advise you in these cases — cases where the pain associated with treatment far outweighs the pain of the condition — that you may feel a little “discomfort”. This is also bullshit. I’m not stupid enough to fall for that turn of phrase.
I got the distinct impression that one or both of these phrases were about to leave his mouth. I just shook my head up and down — to indicate understanding — and put my hand up — to indicate “stop”. Thankfully, Doctor Chatty Cathy, understood that no conversation which involved lying to me about “stinging” or “discomfort” would be necessary.
While I was fully aware that this procedure would be painful, I was truly unprepared for the level of pain I was about to experience. Think about someone inserting burning hot coals into your heel — and then swishing them around under your skin. Yeah. That about describes it.
The whole shebang took under a minute — possibly the longest minute of my life. It was all I could do not to jump out of the chair. It occurred to me to ask him how long it had taken him to become proficient at giving this injection. I would have been interested to know how many of these procedures he performed before he stopped getting kicked in the face. I didn’t though — that would just have been bad manners. (Possibly falling into the same category as asking a receptionist if her boss is an asshole.) I think the opinion that he had already formed of me — I may have yawned during his orthotics “spiel” — was less than stellar and I wanted to exit on a high note. I also feared that he might just answer me. The odds were good that listening to his answer would force me to spend another ten minutes in the chair while he told me funny stories about injection administration or how he haphazardly cut himself with a scalpel while performing his first bunionectomy. So, I just got up, put on my shoes and socks and went on my merry way.
I have to go back in two weeks for a follow-up appointment. Due to circumstances beyond his control (his words), I’ll have to see his partner. I can only hope that the partner is more to my liking. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed and pray that he’s an asshole. That’s the quality that I look for in a medical professional.