I had another appointment with my orthopedic doctor on Friday and received a mix of good and bad news.
The good news is that the bone fracture in my foot has healed more since my last visit a month ago.
The bad news is that I still need to wear the orthopedic boot or a fracture shoe for another month.
The doctor showed Larry and me the X-rays. Some of the fracture is “smoothed over” and none of the jagged teeth that first appeared on the X-rays are visible.
But part of the fracture still looks, in Larry’s words, “like a Pac Man figure’s open mouth.”
The foot still hurts some when I’m not in the boot, aches at night if I’ve been on my feet for a long time. And it’s tender to the pressure the doctor puts on it.
Those symptoms helped the doctor determine that the best recommendation is to stay in the boot. I can try the lower fracture shoe, but if the foot hurts while wearing that, I’m to go back to the boot.
He thought it would heal completely as long as I listened to my body.
And then the doubts came.
An orthopedic boot is a great conversation piece. People I don’t even know will ask me why I’m wearing it.
Some will tell me their own stories of being in a boot. Some will talk about being in one for a matter of weeks.
I’ve been in one for over two months, part of that time on crutches.
People who I see often seem amazed that I’m still wearing it.
“You’re still in that boot? How much longer do you have to wear it?”
And at work, I get the impression—and it could be all in my imagination—that my co-workers wish I would get out of the boot already.
I can’t do certain assignments because of my foot. I can’t walk long distances to take photos at large events. My driving is limited. I’m working my regular schedule of 32 hours a week, but there are limitations on what I can do.
So in the doctor’s office Friday, all these thoughts came crowding in and I started to doubt myself. I asked myself questions such as, Does it hurt enough to warrant the boot? Was I exaggerating how much it hurt? Was I giving a false impression to my doctor?
I don’t have anxiety that I’m sicker than anyone else thinks I am. I have anxiety about giving the impression that I’m sicker than I really am.
One of the reasons I wanted Larry with me when the doctor talked to me was so that he could be a witness to what the doctor said and what his concerns were. I didn’t trust just myself.
Towards the end of my visit, I finally asked the doctor some of the questions that I had: was it unusual for it to take so long to heal? Was it unusual to still hurt? Was it strange for me to still be in a boot?
Absolutely not, said the doctor. If it had healed totally in two months, THAT would have been unusual, he said.
I told him that some other people were surprised that I had been in the boot for so long. He said if my fracture had occurred in a different part of my foot, they would be right. But this is a Jones fracture, he reminded me. And this type of fracture can take a long time to heal.
Later, I remembered what he had said about listening to my body.
Having OCD, I don’t always trust my interpretation of what my body is telling me. I wonder about how much pain is “enough” to warrant concern. I wonder if I’m sick “enough” to call for the care of a doctor. I wonder if I’m worth all this fuss.
I want to be certain. And I can’t.
Deep inside, I know my foot needs the boot. I know I feel pain. It’s just the OCD creeping in, causing me to doubt myself. It’s just me listening to others instead of to my body and to my doctor.
I’m not going to let those doubts compromise my health. I will just live with them. Eventually, the accompanying anxiety will dissipate.
And eventually, I will get out of this boot.
Do you ever have doubts about the seriousness of a health problem you have?