Dr. Amy

amy3I don’t know about you, but I embrace self-diagnosis, generally with no medical evidence for backing accompanied by a dire prognosis for good measure.

During various pregnancies – and thanks to the very helpful What to Expect When You’re Expecting tome – I was certain I’d developed a kidney infection, gestational diabetes and placenta previa when it turns out, it was just really bad gas.

For a while, I was fairly certain that a pain under my right ear was cancer and not the result of tightly clenching my jaw throughout much of my day (teenagers, anyone?).

And the pain I felt in my left knee every time I ran had me convinced I had torn my meniscus somewhere along a wooded trail. But when I stopped running, the pain magically went away.

And then there’s the pain in my feet. My big toes in particular.

It’s been there for years, this weird irritation in, like, my big toe knuckle. The one that connects the toe to the rest of the foot. And every once in a while in more recent years, the pain would really flare up, causing me to limp around when I woke up, and then eventually subside.

Then, about two years ago, we had the Summer of Amy. Remember that? When I went out – hard – about 10 nights in a row and it involved a lot of dancing and teetering around in high heels?

Well, it seems after that stint, my feet have never quite been the same. Like, last summer I officially swore off flip flops and started wearing Birkenstocks instead. And I don’t think I could shoehorn my hooves into a high heeled pump if you offered me money. My feet just don’t bend that way any more. Lunging is also a thing of the past (the exercise type of lunging and not, like, lunging for a glass of wine or the last piece of pizza).

So, I’d had my secret diagnosis for what was ailing me, the cause I was convinced was causing my pain. I just kind of kept it to myself. But then my younger sister told me she was having similar issues that a doctor diagnosed as some long, complicatedly-named issue. So, I decided to go with that. Much less embarassing.

Fast forward to this past fall and I’m sitting outside by a fire having drinks with an old college friend and trading ailments. I tried to pronounce this multi-syllabic foot condition from which I’d been suffering and she laughed in my face. “You’ve got the gout,’ she barked and we both started laughing our heads off, me only because I was a little drunk. In reality, I was freaked out because here was another person giving a voice to the condition I was both convinced and terrified I had: gout. Like Ben Franklin. Like, I might as well just go out and fly my own kite and electrocute myself.

I was convinced that my daily alcohol intake – because that’s just where I am right now in my life – had caused the joints of my toes to start to swell and I was just weeks away from needing a cane and wearing round wire-rimmed glasses and pantaloons.

So I was managing. Shuffling along in my Birkenstock slippers and sensible flats. And then my mom started needling me to get my feet checked by an actual doctor. Someone with a medical degree and not just, like, a router and access to WebMD.

She and my younger sister (another one with foot issues) had started seeing a foot doctor down by them and my mom couldn’t stop talking about her (this is how my mother gets when she really likes something). And then, one day last week, I finally got around to calling and lo-and-behold the doctor had an opening the next day.

Like most people, I don’t think my feet are particularly attractive. I don’t really like them being the center of attention. But there I was in an exam room with my tootsies propped up front-and-center on a chair. The doctor – who is 5 years younger than I am, which is a whole other blog post – came in and I joked about how ugly my feet were and then told her my secret diagnosis.

“I’ve got the gout,” I blurted, and she looked down and shook her head while gently cupping my feet in her hands and said, “I can assure you, this is not gout.”

She took some xrays to confirm what she thought my problem was and explained that the pain was being caused by degenerative arthritis stemming from a condition called hallux rigidus. The very sexy Stiff Big Toe.


Really, this is the only way I’d allow any of you to see my feet. Especially on the Internet.

The good news is that this is not an unusual circumstance for an almost-50-year-old-gal to find herself in. According to the doctor, she sees it a lot. The bad news is that it’s only going to get worse. Unless I opt for some type of surgery, it’s pretty much all about managing the pain, which can be done through things like buying certain types of sneakers, getting some orthotics made, and cortisone shots.

She told me that if I wanted, she could give me the shots right then and there and I started to sweat. On the one hand, I really wanted my feet to stop hurting so fucking much and on the other, I was scared. I really, really hate shots, and if any of you have had any in your face lately (ladies of a certain age you know that I am talking to you and you know just what I’m saying), you know that it’s a friggin’ nightmare. Like, I’d rather straight up have a baby.

But I pulled up my big girl panties and told her to go for it and then did legit Lamaze breathing while she pumped 3ccs of whatever it was into my feet that burned like hell. Talk about a hot flash.

But you know what? It worked. Immediately, my big toes felt infinitely better and later that night – don’t tell the doctor – I even wore high heels.

And since then, I don’t feel like I need to hobble out of bed in the morning, however my one attempt at lunging the other day reminded me that it’s not like my feet went back in a time capsule 20 years. Like, the damage has been done.

So, now you know all about my Granny Feet. And that I don’t have gout. Seriously, I should use this blog as a dating website because I’m sure the picture I’m painting of myself is hard to resist.

And I’d spend more time worrying about all of that if I didn’t have some research to do about my declining eyesight. I’m pretty sure it’s glaucoma.

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14 thoughts on “Dr. Amy

  1. Same issues, same self diagnosis (I added hammer toe to my list which I was 100% sure I had). Insisted the doc take x-rays then he calmly said it’s some sort of arthritis as well. The joys of that half century mark.

    But on a happier note, we don’t have all those other 15 ailments we thought we had.

  2. We must be related…I do the same thing! I self diagnose and put off going to an actual MD only find out I was wrong.

    Although…there was one time I did self diagnose, the doctor disagreed & treated me for a year. When he finally sent me to a specialist I discovered I had been right all along!

  3. Ha! I am going through similar problems, in fact I’m going to see a neurologist tomorrow after innumerable x-rays, MRIs, etc with a foot doctor recommended by my podiatrist.
    Talk about ugly feet! I have dancer toes, all my toes are crooked, a result of being made to stand “on pointe” way before they were fully form (like 7 or 8 years old) I had flat feet & that was the remedy then, plus wearing old lady shoes, flats, with laces, and all of this while I was a gawking teenager.
    And the pain! It has gotten better with PT, but my traveling days are over. It all started during my last cruise to the Rhine, where I walked for miles. I also only wear Birkenstocks or flats with Birkenstock insoles in them. The MRI showed something called CRPS. You can Google it. Alas! It has NO cure, it’s aggravated by age (Hello 75) and it will be with me until I die. Oh well, not too bad for someone who survived a deathly car crash when my baby was 6 months! (6 weeks in a coma and multiple fractions which left me without a sense of balance and a left arm with limited ROM)
    So there! I’m convinced that old age is not for sissies, but we should be glad we attained it!
    Carry on Amy! We’ll survive.

  4. Hilarious!!!! LMAO in HK 😉

    Summer of Amy!! Woot!

    Sorry your feet hurt ~ can’t Kelly fix them? Those cortisone shots are brutal.


  5. I’m with you! The worst was when I thought I was having a heart attack when in fact it was a panic attack after starting a fire in my toaster oven! Totally unnecessary night spent in ER which cost me $1000 and a new toaster. 🙂

    • Am literally LOLing! I totally forgot that I’ve thought I was having a heart attack at times too AND that I spent the morning in the ER a few years ago convinced I’d swallowed poison! Yikes …

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