After back-to-back surgeries (#13 & #14 total for both feet) on my left foot and after almost a year of not really running and several months of no jogging at all, I'm moving a little bit outdoors again, sort of. I can't bring myself to call whatever I'm doing running or even jogging because it's so lopsided, but I'm wobbling along the streets at an average of about 12-minute miles. That's as terrible as it sounds, but it's also on hilly courses. Still, even moving downhill doesn't make that pace much faster, and I'm limited to about 10-20 minutes before my body feels like it's breaking. I suppose that's better than nothing, but it's not great. I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry, but one thing is very clear; I am no longer a runner. I'm glad I had a moment in the sun, so to speak. At least I can look back and admire the runner I used to be, even if I wasn't the perfect example of health at the time. It's not like I am now, either.
It also feels weird to be writing when there's so much going on in the world, mostly not-so-great and even catastrophic events both in the United States and around the world. It seems a little selfish to focus on me or, more specifically, my foot, but writing often allows me to process my feelings, and the need to do so hasn't stopped because of world events. Hopefully, my words can have some kind of positive impact on at least someone or encourage some deeper thoughts in general.
Sometimes I read what's published, either a novel or an article in a running magazine, and I remind myself that I have got to work on being kinder to myself. That should be a lesson for everyone no matter what, unless you're a serial killer, but I'm so quick to criticize every little thing about myself and the things I do. It's like living with a dictator and someone slightly more rational and optimistic in my brain, a constant argument in my head over how terrible I am versus how it's really not that bad. That's where the OCD comes in, I think. If I complete these arbitrary tasks, no matter how sloppily or unnecessary, everything won't be as awful and my mind can finally relax a little, for a short time anyway.
My mental health aside, what I've noticed recently is that there is a growing number of individuals who are biased in the medical field, either against women or those who have or have had eating disorders or both. I understand that individual bias isn't the same as systemic bias, but both are a problem. The issues I have faced in the last year started when I went to several practitioners because of continued foot pain and sciatic problems that developed, probably because of all the limping. An MRI showed some of what was going on but not everything. After surgery #13, I was still feeling discomfort, so my doctor suggested another surgery to remove more of a particular nerve he felt was the culprit. Unfortunately, it was a long wait before he could perform the operation, so I got a second opinion (the second surgeon agreed with the first that surgery was my best option), saw a PT or two, and got some acupuncture as well.
Out of the six or so professionals I saw, the two surgeons agreed it was a physical issue, but two, a PT and a PA, insisted I was "creating pain" or it was somehow psychosomatic. I walked out on one PT before treatment and after he insisted I was creating my pain. I had to ask, if he believed this, then why he wouldn't go into psychology instead of continuing in his field? I was there to get treatment on my physical body, not get my head shrunk. This seems to be more common in Boulder and elsewhere where individuals like to think everything comes down to mind over matter. Well, as powerful as the mind can be, and just like prayer doesn't appear to do anything to prevent mass shootings, sometimes there are physical issues that can't be overcome by simply thinking them away.
I almost cheered when my doctor, after the last surgery, showed me the huge neuroma he found and cut out. The stabbing sensation wasn't in my head after all, and yeah, I get that when we hurt, it's usually because our nerves send signals to our brains to tell us something is amiss. I also understand that there's an emotional component to pain. That doesn't give anyone the right to discount what a patient is experiencing.
The other issue I have faced is one that is more widespread, especially for those who are overweight or in the throes of mental illness, and women tend to be more discounted than men. Our pain is more often misdiagnosed, and we are less likely to receive proper medical care overall. It always surprises me when this kind of bias comes from a female doctor, though. I've mentioned how, years ago, one female doctor told me that my medical problem was hormonal when, in fact, I was suffering from viral meningitis and nearly died because she blew me off. More recently, I had an encounter with a doctor who was completely condescending and arrogant and took one look at my medical history and determined that my current issue (sciatica due to limping so badly for over a year) is a bone issue that was caused by my anorexia...40 years ago. Without any evidence that this is bone-related, none, she has insisted that my bones are weak and has treated me like shit. I finally asked that my care be transferred to someone else.
The thing is, when you're already suffering, it makes it even more difficult to stand up and be an advocate for yourself. Encounters with flippant doctors make it easier to think about giving in to the demons that plague the heads of so many of us who are hurting these days. I basically told the doctor mentioned above that I was cutting off the conversation, and while I'm glad I was able to take care of myself at that moment, I'm not happy I didn't go one step further and really let her know how obnoxious and mean she was being for the second time. I'm not sure if the situation warranted a "fuck you," but I should have at least made it more clear why I was hanging up the phone and transferring my care. I'm not sure my follow-up email was enough to drive home the point of just how awful she was being.
In other news, David Roche, someone I've never met and never interacted with, ever, joined Erin Strout Citius Magazine, and Chris Chavez in blocking me on social media. Kudos to Women's Running and Fast Women for not blocking me for the awful sin of retweeting some blog posts by Kevin Beck, just like Eric Schranz of Ultrarunner Podcast has done countless times before. It's important to be inclusive unless you don't like someone. In that case, make sure you practice exclusion and cut off any means of communication. That seems like the best approach for "professional" journalists, no? But everyone has to live with their actions, good, bad, and mean-spirited as well. Somehow, these days you're seen as more of a villain for pointing out bad behavior than you are for committing the bad behavior (lying, stirring the pot, hypocrisy, mocking fat kids, etc.)
I’m keeping this short, not because I don’t have more to say but because with depression comes a lot of brain fog, and I’ve already pushed through a massive amount of murky gunk just to get this far.