I know a lot about plantar fasciitis. I’ve been dealing with it on and off since my 20’s. They say it takes 10 years or 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. I don’t know what level comes after expert, but when it comes to plantar fasciitis, I’ve certainly reached it.
Over the years, I’ve tried everything.
I’ve seen podiatrists, physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons, an acupuncturist, a chiropractor, a family practice doc, and of course, I’ve been to Google’s Medical School. I’ve tried injections, magnesium, vitamins, milk thistle, (oh wait, not milk thistle – that’s for hangovers) foot massage, bought a Tens unit from Amazon, a Darco Body Armor Night Splint from Amazon, bought essential oils from a co-worker, in 1998 I made a night splint out of pilfered cast material, done stretches and exercises, bought new shoes, avoided certain shoes, and I own every manner of custom and generic orthotic inserts.
If you watch the Real Housewives of New York City, you are familiar with the clip where Bethenny Frankel is accused of being a know-it-all and she comes back with “Maybe I … know IT all.” So it is with me and plantar fasciitis. I do … know it all.
Mmmmmm … Not so fast
God, the Universe, Karma, The High Sparrow, (whatever label works for you) will provide you with repeated opportunities to learn a thing until you, well, learn the thing. Last year, right after my orthopod injected my foot, I said. “I have a tennis match tomorrow, can I play?”
It’s the blindness that comes when unexamined beliefs and habits collide. This inability to connect the dots happens to all of us. It’s why you don’t hear the shrill whine of your own kid. (Good moms treat their children gently.) It’s why 10 years later you’re still at a job or in a relationship that isn’t right. (I can stick this out, people are depending on me.) It’s why people don’t seek care until their tumors are the size of bowling balls. (If I don’t acknowledge it, I’m not sick.)
And it’s why you confuse treating plantar fascia pain with curing plantar fasciitis. Maybe you think foot pain belongs in the That which does not kill you makes you stronger category. Maybe you have a thing about not being the weak link.
Even experts see what they want to see
Know-it-alls and experts have a tendency to overestimate themselves. Do you know who is mostly likely to survive being lost in the woods? Children age 6 and under. (1) Not experienced hikers, hunters, or former military members. It’s young kids. Because they follow their instincts. They find shelter when they’re cold, they rest when they’re tired and drink when they’re thirsty. They have nothing to un-know and they aren’t relentlessly judging themselves and finding themselves wanting because they aren’t relentlessly measuring themselves against real or imagined standards. They do what makes sense. If their feet hurt all the time, they would get off them.
It’s so simple it’s almost hard to understand.
Plantar fasciitis took more than a year from me, tennis-wise. But it was a year well spent. Now I know: if you want someone to inject your feet, you should examine what got you to that point. (And before you let someone stick a needle in your foot again, you should stick a needle in your ankle first and give yourself an ankle block because that heel injection is way past 10.)
But more importantly, I learned that if I’m going to be an expert on anything, it should be my own blind spots.
- Laurence Gonzales. (2004) Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why W. W. Norton and Company