Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Boot

A year ago I wrote about exercises I was doing in hopes of healing my heel and being able to run again.

Since then, despite the exercises, my heel's still a problem.  Most of the time I can walk without any more than a slight pressure that reminds me not to run.  I've substituted biking for running, but it's just not the same.

Once in a while the heel gets inflamed and becomes a serious hassle.  So I finally went back to the podiatrist.

He wasn't encouraging.  I'd done all the physical therapy exercises and it hadn't improved things. They were supposed to strengthen the calf muscles to take pressure off the Achilles tendon.  There's also a bone spur that the exercises weren't going to help and might be irritating the tendon. Well, he says surgery will fix it, probably, but no guarantees.  Naturally, I'm not too excited about that option and reminded him that he'd said a boot was the next step.  He doesn't hold out much hope for the boot, but it could help.  Since it's not urgent and I don't really see a good time in the near future for recovery, and since I need to do more research, I opted to try the boot.  This one is a product of Iceland.  Lots of velcro and the blue ball is a pump to tighten it more with air.

I took it with me to LA in September and did short term tests.  I could walk on it ok, but after a few days my knee hurt.  When you change your gait radically, other parts have to compensate.

So I started my four weeks for real not quite two weeks ago.  I thought I had a month at home to do this.  Did expect this last short trip to see my mom.  It started with six days of a corticosteroid.  I can't find anything online that explains exactly what the med was supposed to do. What I recall the doctor saying was it makes the muscle more pliable.  The boot is supposed to keep my heel from moving and it is pretty snug.  The boot's on all day except for the shower and driving - since it's my right foot.  And I'm not biking during this period.

Two weeks into full time boot and so far so good.  The test period was a good warning to be aware of how I'm compensating and this time there's been no knee problem or other issues.  TSA wasn't happy with my boot. When they rubbed the chemical tester on the boot, it tested positive.  Coming home, I just took it off and put it on the conveyor belt and walked very gently through the scanner.  I must have looked pitiful because the TSA guy asked if I could lift my arms for the scanner.

When I take it off at night, my foot feels good.  And I look at all the people around me who walk around without thinking how amazing it is to be able to walk.  They just take it for granted, as I have all my life.  And that's how it should be.  But it is a blessing that you realize only when you lose it. I wrote a post on that two years ago. 

 And I'm still very appreciative that my problem is relatively minor.  It could be a lot worse.  But I still have lots of research to do before I consent to surgery if this doesn't work. 


  1. Good for you Steve. Never have surgery, especially foot surgery before trying everything & giving it time.

    In my case I clumped around in the boot for almost a full year, fended off all pressure to be operated on & now have a pain free foot & can walk just fine. People I know did have the surgery & found it made their problems much worse.

    Seems to me that Drs. want to try surgery because they can't figure out any other solution - it's experimental for them. They have nothing to lose - you do.

    Best wishes for a full recovery. I have confidence that you'll find a solution as I did.

    1. Anon, I appreciate your comments. I've been asking and googling for research on the surgery, but the best I found was a Santa Monica doctor talking about his experiences anecdotally. Things like, "I found that if I do this, patients seem to do better." That's scary. I want to know of 1000 people who got the surgery, how many were pain free for ten or more years and could run etc? And then, they have to be divided by what kinds of problems they had before the surgery. And how did it break down by age. But so far I haven't found anything close to that. Your comment "it's experimental for them" rings true. I do think the Dr. is good, but I have to leave with the consequences, not he.
      I raised the idea of having the boot as a back up for a longer time and he said, "The boot is not a permanent solution." So thanks for the encouragement.

    2. You're very welcome Steve. Your boot is your friend. =) Hang in there, I'm rooting for you.


  2. hi,Steve,Sorry to know you have to handle with your heel problem.But i really hope you can overcome it as soon as possible!
    BEst wishes for you!
    Frank.from Beijing!

    1. Hi Frank, good to hear from you. The boot too shall pass. It's really not that bad. Gives me a new way of seeing the world.


Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.