Wednesday, December 29, 2010


It's been so long. I've done nothing on this blog for months and months and, truthfully, I wouldn't be writing now if I didn't have a a whopping sinus headache that won't let me sleep. I've been THINKING, yes thinking, of many things to write about over the months, but I have been so discouraged and so focussed in a completely different direction than I had expected that I didn't have the heart to put my thoughts out there.

So, let's catch up. First of all, I have not lost any weight. Fine news for a weight loss blog, you say. And you are right. My journey is not linear at all, and I really didn't expect that. When I began writing, I thought that I would see a line graph that consistently trended down -- probably not quickly, probably not easily, but down. Instead, my line graph looks like the EKG of someone who's coded. Flatline. A pound here or there -- one banner month, I lost 8 pounds and was super excited. That was the month I started taking Phentermine on the recommendation of a good friend who has lost quite a bit of weight. However, after the initial "I think this is going to work for me" happy thought, it stopped working. And I thought, "I'm not taking some drug that is not even working for me every day." And I stopped taking it and stopped weighing myself or dieting at all. I'm happy to say that I haven't gained weight, but sad to say also that I haven't lost.

All summer I struggled with incredible pain in my left leg -- pain that would wake me up at night writhing and crying. Charley horses that wouldn't go away. Throbbing, aching, hellish pain that would not let me sleep and prevented me from functioning. The doctor I was seeing who gave me the Phentermine enjoined me to walk one hour every day. I thought, "are you kidding me? I can't walk across the room. I can't go grocery shopping. I can't clean my house. I can't do anything. And you expect me to WALK for distance?" Needless to say, I didn't heed that admonition.

Over the summer, I met with friends every week for School of Community, and I remember talking to one of them who is a physical therapist. I said to her that the pain was so bad that I thought it would be better to have my leg amputated at the hip. With her encouragement and that of another dear PT friend, I actually made an appointment with an orthopedist early in the fall. I explained my history and my symptoms, and he took X-rays of my entire left side. His conclusion? There is nothing orthopedic involved -- get thee to physical therapy. When I showed my two PT friends his order for PT, they both burst out laughing -- he basically had said that I was inflamed from my hip to my ankle. Every item on the diagnosis (and the list was long) ended with "-itis". I began seeing a physical therapist, whom I love, and the work has begun.

To explain -- I was born extremely premature -- my mother's original due date was some time in May and I was born in mid-March. In 1966, that was no joke, and it's a wonder I survived. It was the only time in my life I've been underweight, in fact -- 2.25 pounds. One of the problems I had was that I was born without a hip socket on my left side. This is called "Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip". I had an operation when I was stable and strong enough to survive it to construct a socket and to pin the head of the femur into place. I was in a hard body cast until I was about 18 months old. Later, the pins were removed -- as a result I have a 12 inch scar on the front of my hip and a 6 inch one on the back.

All through my childhood, I saw the orthopedic surgeon who worked on me -- Liebe Diamond. She is an amazing woman -- please read her entry at the link above -- she is in the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame. She scared the crap out of me as a child, but I am so grateful to her. She allowed me to live a pretty normal childhood. However, one result of the deformity and the surgery is that, over the years, I developed a bad habit -- it felt "normal" to me to stand, walk, climb stairs, etc., with my feet pointed slightly outward. My kneecaps also point slightly outward, not towards the front (this probably contributed to the traumatic knee dislocation I experienced last year). And, over the years, as a result of this bad habit, all the muscles on the outside of my legs -- particularly my left leg -- became so tight that they pulled my feet even more out of whack (technical medical term alert). I started to walk with a pronated gait -- thus ensuring that all the weight of my body was concentrated on a tiny little area of my left foot where the Posterior Tibial Tendon attaches. In fact, when I was diagnosed with plantar fascitis FOUR YEARS AGO (misdiagnosed, according to my physical therapist), that was the beginning of all this trouble coming home to roost. As the pain from the PTTD (PTT Dysfunction) became more pronounced, the other problems -- walking with my toes pointed outward, pronated gait -- also became more pronounced as I tried to escape the pain. As a result, the muscles on the outside of my left calf and in my ankle became so inflamed and so tight that, as the PT told me, "it feels like you have an extra tibia in your leg". The muscle is as hard as bone.

In order to fix this problem, I have been going to physical therapy three times a week since the beginning of November. There goes all my free time. I drop off Chickadee #2 at preschool, go directly to PT, spend one and a half to two hours there, being massaged, stretched, stuck with needles, having ultrasound and electricity run through the muscle, undergoing pressure point therapy, enduring ice massage and ice packs, and doing exercises, then I rush out to pick the chickadees up from school. It is exhausting and discouraging to see how much work is needed to correct this problem. But, we have to get through the point where pain prevents me from moving (I was walking as if my left leg were made of wood on many days -- not bending my knee, not flexing my ankle). After that, we can start to teach my muscles to work in the proper way. It's going to be a long haul. But I think and hope it will be worth it. Recently, I have started to experience a diminution of pain in the PTT. I've bought a brace that's supposed to help -- I was wearing it incorrectly, so I have to see tomorrow when I take the chickadees to the Maryland Science Center if a correctly worn brace is gong to help me.

So that, writ large, is what I've been working on instead of losing weight. I am hoping that fixing this problem will help me fix that problem. Pray for me!


  1. Great post Col, will pray for you. You are always in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. Wow, you've been working so hard and doing so much! I hope your pain is lessened as your legs strengthen!