Tuesday, June 14, 2011

This can no longer be ignored

Last night in yoga we had one of those instructors. She attempted to inspire everybody by YELLING things like: 'Work the yoga, don't let it work you!' and 'Don't just survive your yoga.' At one point, she attempted to adjust first my deformed left foot while I was in Warrior One and then my trashed left knee. I hissed that I had "joint issues" and she wandered off to yank on someone else's knee. This isn't exclusive to Baptiste-style yoga. I had Bikram yoga instructors scold me for years, telling me 'never say never' when I insisted I couldn't do a toe stand.

Dear overly aerobicized 25-year-olds with buns o' steel, it's true. I can't do those particular poses. I know you think you know more than my podiatrist surgeon but you don't. And I know you think you know more than the army of physical therapists who helped me recover from my lower back sprain, but you don't. And I'm sure, in all your glowing health arrogance that you think my knee specialist was wrong back in 2004 when she told me I had the worst arthritis bone over-growth in my knees she'd ever seen in a person under 40 (I was 39) but you're wrong. You weren't there in September 2004, when I laid on the exam table and stared at the ceiling while my orthopedic specialist injected Synvisc into both my knees without lydocaine. With a syringe the size of a ballpoint pen. And then I had to walk home because I couldn't afford a cab.

But the real bugaboo is my mutant left foot.

I had the right one fixed in 2004. It's 100% healed and works great aside from the fact I have surgical screws in it and will never be able to stand on my toes (sorry Bikram yoga), wear high heels (not that I care) or stick it in an MRI machine (would rip the screws out of the bone).

I have what is known in podiatry circles as Morton's foot. I'm pretty sure I inherited this deformity from my Dad because he always said his father had weird "prehensile" toes. I was supposed to have corrective surgery at 18 but couldn't afford it. It's physical proof I'm partially descended from bog-trotting Irishmen who had feet like frogs.

I can make fun of it because I haven't been walking on it all day and it hasn't even really begun to sing. Morton's foot is like attempting to walk on ice skates. The majority of the weight in my left foot rests shakily on my second metatarsal, like an ice skate blade. My left ankle is 'hyper flexible' and I trip easily. Every step I take, the weight on my left comes down on the joints of my second toe, and those joints grind into the floor, shoe sole or whatever. The bunion, along with the freakishly long second toe, means I can rarely fit into women's shoes, so 90% of mine are either men's tennis shoes or Keen sandals (Godsend to the mutant footed).

I got the right one fixed in 2004 because I paid dearly for comprehensive Blue Cross insurance while working for minimum wage at a copy store. It was 60 days before I could walk across the room in an orthopedic boot without screaming in pain; 90 days before I could squeeze my right foot into a shoe without lacing it up. It was six long months before I could flush the Vicodin and get through the day without searing pain.

Thanks to America's irrational fear of socialized healthcare, I can't get my left foot fixed. Eventually I'll get a stress fracture and will end up in an ER where the doctors will tell me they can't refer me to orthopedic surgery because I have no insurance. And then I'll have to walk home.

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