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Something’s always wrong a.k.a. my right foot

Right foot

If I could have one wish I think it would be to have a year without any medical problems or injuries. Not a lifetime, just a year! I’d like one sweet, sweet, year when my body would function just as it was supposed to. Alas, this will probably always remain a fantasy. I always tended to injure myself when I was running or training for races, and even though I’m not training for anything right now my right foot is causing problems.

I don’t remember the day my right foot began to hurt (kinda like I don’t remember the moment I got my headache), but it was sometime around late December 2010. I felt a pain in my arch whenever I walked, but it felt fine when standing or sitting with no weight on it. I thought it would just heal with time, but it started to get worse, particularly after I did anything active that required bending my foot, like, oh, WALKING.

I decided I needed to see a doctor, but I waited until February to schedule an appointment because that’s when my COBRA ran out and my state-sponsored health insurance for sickos kicked in. Little did I know that it would take TWO MONTHS to get an appointment with a general practitioner. I might have been able to get in sooner if I’d bitched about it, but the foot wasn’t really an emergency, so I just waited.

When I did get in to see the doctor in early April, she took a look, didn’t find anything obviously wrong and decided to send me to a podiatrist. So I have to wait ANOTHER MONTH to get an appointment with that expert. I wish I’d known all this back in January and had just scheduled an appointment with the foot doctor for February. But I didn’t, so here I am, having walked around on a dodgy foot for four months before I can get an expert to tell me what’s wrong.

It’s particularly frustrating because it makes exercising more inconvenient. Yeah, I can bike or swim or yadda, yaddda, yadda, but the best exercise is the exercise you actually do, and for me that’s always been walking and running. I like that it’s basically idiot proof (though maybe I am disproving that assumption). I like that it’s meditative and gives me time to just think. I like that it allows me to wander about the city and feel more connected to my community. I miss it.

Part of me wonders if they’ll take an x-ray and I’ll learn I’ve been walking on a broken foot all year. It would kinda suck to go to FitBloggin’ on crutches. My doctor said a broken bone was unlikely, though, so I might just end up getting a special insert for my shoe. Or maybe I’ll have to weird really dorky orthopedic shoes. I hope this doesn’t turn into something like Shauna’s dodgy knee saga back in 2006 where I learn if I’d done something sooner I could have prevented more damage and drastically shortened my recovery time.

For anyone who’s about to diagnose me, I don’t think it’s plantar fasciitis. I had a case of that about 8 years ago and my current pain doesn’t feel like that. The plantar fasciitis pain was focused on the bottom of my foot near my heel, whereas my recent foot pain is located in the middle of my arch. Also, the pain from plantar fasciitis goes away as you walk around because you’re warming up the muscle, making it stretch and making it more flexible. This recent pain hurts no matter how long I’ve walked and actually gets a bit worse the more I do walk.

The strangest twist in all this is that my foot feels best when I’m wearing high-heeled boots. Go figure! High heels are supposed to be all kinds of evil for your feet, but for whatever reason they seem to take pressure off of my trouble spot. I’ve been a strong hater of everything high-heeled for most of my life. I’ve always considered high-heels to be uncomfortable and unnecessary since I’m already 5’9″ without them. But I was charmed into buying a pair of boots with a 2.5″ heel on sale, and now I’m sort of coming around on the issue.

Off-topic: Do people in foreign countries measure heel height in centimeters? I’ve never thought about this before and it now seems rather odd to me. Does this affect shoe production and design?

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41 Comments

Tina • April 26, 2011 at 4:45 pm

No advice whatsoever…I’m just sorry your foot hurts :( It’s kind of a hard pain to ignore. Hope they’re able to fix you up soon!!!

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barbara raab • April 26, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Wait: the general practitioner didn’t take an xray? that seems odd.

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Merry • April 26, 2011 at 6:24 pm

The trouble with the nasty orthotic things is that once your foot gets used to them, you’re struck wearing them Always and Forever or your foot will start to whine, bitch and moan.

The good part is that they really can help sometimes.

If you do have to walk with a cane, you can get lots of sympathy and handsome men holding doors open for you. Milk it for all it’s worth ;)

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AquaMarine • April 26, 2011 at 7:49 pm

I have a self-diagnosed case of plantar fasciitis and the only thing that seems to relieve it is a pair of Aerosoles shoes with a wide, pliable heel that’s about 2.5″ high.

So I have no diagnoses or cure for you, but I can tell you you’re not alone in noticing foot pain getting better when you wear heels. The pain is much worse in sneakers or flats. Go figure…

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Natalie • April 26, 2011 at 8:05 pm

I live in Australia and although we use metric here there are some things that are still commonly measured in inches or feet and high heels are definitely one of them. I have never heard of them measured in centimetres. People’s height can go either way, depending mostly on how old the speaker is. I think everything else is metres/centimeters.
Oh, and I think of land in acres even though we are officially hectares.

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Becky Brandon • April 26, 2011 at 8:41 pm

You find the most amazing pictures for your blog!

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Bethama • April 26, 2011 at 9:19 pm

I know that when I’ve had problems in the past, I’ve been told to put pads in my shoe under the heel. It shortens the tendons and can relieve tendonitis, so perhaps the same logic is at play here?

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Sonya • April 26, 2011 at 9:41 pm

No advice here either. I was training for a half marathon and was -><- this close to being ready when my ankle started hurting after training and it took me days to recover.

A podiatrist and one surgery later I'm still feeling pain in my ankle and fear I'll never cross the half-marathon off my bucket list.

After much researh…. one thing that does help me is being barefoot and wearing my "barefoot" shoes but even that doesn't help totally eliminate the pain when I go on long walks. I'm just so afraid to go back to the doctor. I don't want to/can't afford to spend more money on more tests and surgeries to still have the same problems.

Hope you figure out what's wrong with your foot and are able to fix it quickly, cheaply and easily!

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PastaQueen • April 26, 2011 at 10:06 pm

@Becky Brandon – I just use the Flickr advanced search and make sure to check the “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content” box. Then I make sure to give the proper credit and link to the CC license. You can search here:
http://www.flickr.com/search/advanced/

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Penelope • April 27, 2011 at 12:20 am

Ok, I know how much you, um, dislike advice, but I’ve got plantar fasciitis in one foot (for 2 years now) and found my other foot hurting on the top of my arch about 3 weeks ago. There’s this massage therapist who comes to our gym once every couple of months who’s more than just a massage therapist, he is almost like a physical therapist too – knows how all of the muscles/tendons/whatever else is inside making limbs work are all connected together. So, for this pain in my arch, he rubbed the inside side of my heel until he found the sore spot in the fascia, and rubbed it vigorously/deeply for about 5 minutes, moving to find the places that hurt/burned and rubbed them until they quit hurting. Voila – 15 minutes later my foot isn’t hurting anymore. I couldn’t even believe it.

For my case of plantar fasciitis he recommended getting a lacrosse ball and rubbing my foot on that (on the floor) for a couple of minutes in the morning before getting out of the bed, and then for a couple of minutes in the evening too. A lacrosse ball instead of a tennis or baseball for the proper size and pressure it will apply to the foot.

He also commented that pain in the foot is often caused by tightness further up the leg. For that, I’ve been using a “tiger tail” (basically a skinny rolling pin with padding on it) to ‘iron out’ my calves/shins. It hurts like heck when your muscles are tight, but it really does help to loosen them up.

I’My first podiatrist basically sold me inserts, gave me steroid shots in my heel, and when those were done (I had 4), he suggested surgery. I then went to my husband’s podiatrist and he sold me orthotics (thank goodness insurance paid for that!) and ordered me to never go barefoot, wear shoes with a slight heel, and rub foot on tennis ball. So, I’m going to try this lacrosse ball (and actually do it daily), keep rolling with the “tiger tail” and keep working towards relief. It’s much improved from the onset 2 years ago, so progress is good. I see several other comments of folks with plantar fasciitis, so hopefully this is helpful!

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Kadence • April 27, 2011 at 1:43 am

From the location of your pain, and if you have a thing for alternative medicine and reflexology, I would suspect a digestive problem. You may not have had regular bowel movements recently, or just feel bloated and gassy, especially in the evenings.

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Lisa • April 27, 2011 at 1:50 am

Oh poor you! Foot pain is the worst. Especially when you are trying to keep up some kind of exercise routine. The possibilities for health advice on this topic are endless … where to start?
Interesting about the heels. It sounds like you may need orthotics which support your arches where they might need it (maybe the higher heeled shoes have more of an arch in them?). The good news is that a podiatrist can figure that kind of thing out fairly quickly. The bad news is that prescription orthotics are pricey and the little extra height they take up may render many of your current shoes un-wearable.
Though they make thin ones for dressy shoes as well as the substantial ones for running shoes. It does make wearing sandals problematic, but there are some sandals out there that offer a little arch support so you may not have to be totally dorky.
Good luck with your podiatrist. As doctors go, podiatrists are pretty down to earth (is there a pun in there somewhere?) and surprisingly cheerful considering that they deal with other people’s feet all day. Maybe because when they solve the problem, their patients are overwhelmingly grateful and appreciative? I know I was.

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Cynthia • April 27, 2011 at 2:33 am

Don’t rule out plantar fasciitis. I had the heel pain kind years ago, but then I got the arch pain kind and that is what I fight now. Wait and see what the podiatrist says.

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anon • April 27, 2011 at 3:48 am

I feel similar, like I have a shortish list of ailments and as soon as I cross one off, another rears its ugly head and I have to deal with that. I’m trying to be a little less all-or-nothing about exercising and staying healthy through these issues but its not easy to battle total discouragement, some days it just feels too uphill.
I have sore feet in all sorts of ways, but I have found (strangely) that doing Pilates reduces most of the pains, they don’t all go away, but generally they’re less bothersome. I think you’re right to wait it out and see the right docs and get the foot sorted though. Physical (manual) therapists can give you great exercises to strengthen the feet and great massages too!

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vm • April 27, 2011 at 3:53 am

Sure we do! It would be strange to say I’m 1.70 m tall and I’m wearing 2.5” heels. You say 6 cm, 6.5… whatever.

About your foot: I had the same problem long ago. It started after a long walk on the beach (the kind they tell you it’s healthy). After some months with a pain in the arch of the foot that was worse when I walked, it disappeared. The medical advice was: do not use flat shoes, use high heels. It happened again after walking on ballerina shoes on a touristic trip… and I had to go to a shoe store and buy heels in order to continue the trip (well, I’d never say no to shoes). And after a few months, it disappeared again. Results? Noone knows the reason (no plantar fascitis), but the solution is a bit of high heels – 4.5 cm ;) – (or an insert in your running shoes). Well, the advantage is that you always look pretty :D

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Anne • April 27, 2011 at 4:42 am

Why wouldn’t we measure heels in centimeter? *baffled* I’m in Norway and I can’t think of anything we use inches for at all.

No problem with shoe-design or marketing.

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lili • April 27, 2011 at 7:28 am

I live in Germany. Centimeters are used to give the heel height here.

On the side note. For me it is always a little bit shocking to read about health insurance issues. It is not only on your blog but on a lot of blogs from US.

Here I pay a big chunk of my sallary for health insurance and it is a “must”. I have no choice. But I also know, that in case of unemployment, disability I still remain ensured and can get any treatment I need. Not sure how the rule is for self-employed.

take care.

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Taron • April 27, 2011 at 7:51 am

Just a thought: you might want to try seeing a physical therapist (physiotherapist in the UK where I live). I saw a physio for years because of my neck/shoulder pain — which she fixed — but she also fixed an excruciating pain in fleshy part of my foot under my toes. It really had nothing to do with my foot, but with the funny way I was walking — caused by a tight calf and not enough of a give in my ankle. Thing is, sometimes the pain in our bodies doesn’t originate where it actually hurts. So it’s worth taking a look at your gait and posture. Orthodics will try to fix the problem, but it’s a lot better for fix it at its source (and then you also don’t need to wear annoying orthodics!).

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Lisa • April 27, 2011 at 9:33 am

Fast-and-cheap solution: Take your aching feet and your walking shoes to your local running store. Tell them exactly how and where it hurts–the more detail the better. See what they say.

I totally empathize with why you went medical as a starting point, but in this case I think you have alternatives.

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Eleonora • April 27, 2011 at 9:37 am

Italy measures heels in centimeters. I don’t think this has ever affected the shoe business, since Italy is supposed to be one of the main shoe manufacturers (so, in theory, no need to import). Shoe sizes are in an unknown unit of measurement, I wear a 38 EU, 5 UK and 8 US.
Unwanted opinion (skip it if you want): I’ve had arch pain in my right foot for some months, just recently a physiotherapist discovered that my left iliosacral joint was blocked and the right side was “overtraining”. I hope it’s something that easy!

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Danielle • April 27, 2011 at 10:46 am

I have no advice for your foot problem – but I hope you get it resolved quickly and at low cost.

Only the U.S., Myanmar (Burma) and Liberia still use the Imperial system. Here in Canada we are officially metric, but you still often see products sold with imperial measurements, even though we switched in the 1970s. Gas is sold by the litre (and it’s L/100 km, not MPG here), highway signs are in kilometres, and prices at the grocery store are per kilogram.

Probably the main reason that old measures are still common is that so many goods are imported from the States.

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Jackie • April 27, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Triangle Orthopaedic Associates across the street from Timberlyne just off Weaver Dairy Road should be able to help you. I took my daughter there when she badly sprained her ankle. They have Urgent Care so you can see them straight away. It sounds like you might have a stress fracture.

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M. • April 27, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Oh, I feel your pain! A foot injury has kept me from running or walking much since last year. It sucks, because running is so easy to do, and I love doing it. I think about all those people out there who hate running and wish I could just trade feet with them so they could happily sit on their butts with my injured foot and I could go for a run with their non-injured feet!
I hope you heal soon.

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laura • April 27, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Absolument. En france, on mesure les talons en centimetres! Aucun problème pour la fabrication des chaussures…. Courage pour ton pied!

Absolutely! In France we use centimeters. No problem with the shoe production….
good luck with your foot!

Bisous!

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Karen • April 27, 2011 at 5:30 pm

I don’t want to be one of those annoying “I know what exactly what is wrong with you!”, so I’ll just share that I had the exact symptoms you describe and you do what you want with this information.

My (right) foot also hurt after physical activity, seemingly out of nowhere. But it was much better in high heels (read: pain free) than barefoot or in tennis shoes. I went to a podiatrist and learned I have an extra, small bone in my feet – right around the arch. Apparently that’s pretty common but if you injure yourself around that bone, it has room to rub up against tendons and ligaments which causes pain.

You don’t feel the pain in high heels because your foot isn’t flat where the bone can rub up against tendons and ligaments – rather it’s a little cramped and elevated so the bone doesn’t have a lot of room to move.

For what it’s worth, my doctor prescribed some anti-inflammatory pills, told me to ice it every night for 15 minutes, gave me some inserts for tennis shoes and told me to lay off the exercising for a few weeks. Most times, when following those directions it will heal on its own.

Whatever it is with your foot, I hope it gets figured out soon!

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Sonia • April 27, 2011 at 6:33 pm

My heart aches for the fact that it’s taken years to find someone who knows how it feels. I’m 34 yrs old and on 5 prescription drugs. One to make me happy (depression and anxiety), one to make me sleep, one for keeping my periods away (TMI I’m sure), and two for kidney stone issues.
I also randomly get migraines (since high school) and more often get “regular” headaches. C&V was the first time I had ever heard another person refer to herself as broken, a term I use regularly.
Maybe we should start a page for “broken” women (younger than 50 only).
THANK YOU for sharing. And keeping your sense of humor.
I’m curious, did you ever get rid of the headache?

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Sonia • April 27, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Nevermind, just read the About Me, should have done that first, per your book!

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Crystal • April 27, 2011 at 11:26 pm

I have that same pain. I was once told that I had torn my fascia in my running career (aka high school) and now there is a scar there and I get a spasm about twice a day. It hurts really bad.
I have been trying bare foot running and it seems to help. I hope they give you a better, definative diagnosis.

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Kate • April 28, 2011 at 5:30 am

I’ve never ever bought heels…or okay, it happens so infrequently I’ve never noticed the measurements used.

In the UK (where I am), things generally seem to be measured in metric save for a few kick backs like weight, which is measured in stones (14 lbs to a stone.) This annoys me greatly, to add a tangent, because I am American born and my brain refuses to convert. How far away is my TV…I’d say about 6 ft. How many metres…no idea, I had to fight my brain just for it to not write meters.

As for the foot pain, which I won’t diagnose because I have a PGCE and not an MD, it sounds very much like what I had a number of years ago. It turns out I have flat feet. Why any other doctor had never noticed this, I do not know. Apparently arches can just drop whenever they darn well please. At any rate, I’d be surprised if your GP didn’t check for this, but then again, mine was diagnosed by a foot doc and not a GP so maybe GPs just aren’t cool like that? An orthotic insert has retrained my feet. Oh, and another symptom of this is if your shoes wear to one side. Check your soles, see if you can see a slanted wear on them. It would also link in well with the high heel thing, because I think that when you walk in heels they sorta force you to walk properly or you fall. Probably why I’ve always been really bad at walking in them.

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Anna • April 28, 2011 at 6:57 am

Heels are measured in cm or inches here in Australia – it just depends on who you are talking to. Same for height (older people tend not to use metric) and baby weights.

It shocks me that it took you 2 months to get a GP appointment. What if you have a flu and need antibiotics? We bitch and moan if we can’t see our GP the same day we call up…and that’s the bulk-billing (free – they just bill the government directly) one. I hope the wait hasn’t caused permanent damage.

Perhaps physiotherapy would help, that’s what solved my chronic foot pain. Good luck.

I agree with @Becky Brandon, the pics you choose are always fabulous – I was on youtube reliving my childhood when you reminded me of my favourite toy recently (speak and spell).

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Deb • April 28, 2011 at 9:41 am

Sorry! I feel your pain, or at least I feel my foot pain. Scariest thing about being diagnosed with Achilles tendonitis was the doctor saying that walking was bad for it. The treadmill is part of how I lost my weight three years ago, and I was trying desperately (and mostly successfully) to keep it off. So I immediately bought an elliptical, which, as you know, does not put force onto the foot. I don’t love it (it’s harder than walking, whine, whine!), but at least the foot injury didn’t return me to slothdom and fatness. Hope you figure it all out soon. My foot still hurts anyway. Love you!

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Sue • April 28, 2011 at 10:39 am

Sorry about your foot. How frustrating!

I’m in Canada, and while most things are measured in centimeters, shoe heights are still measured in inches.

Either that, or in terribly human judgemental attitude. Examples: there are the “Heels, with Bonus Ability to Remain Upright” which are about 2 – 2.5 inches.

Then you’ve got your “Friday Night Out With the Girls and it Won’t Matter if You Can Walk Anyway” – 3 to 4″.

And of course, the ever-popular “How Much?” shoe at 5″.

Just sayin’……

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PastaQueen • April 28, 2011 at 12:30 pm

@Anna – I hadn’t seen a doctor since I moved to Chapel Hill, so the wait was due to that since I wasn’t an already established patient. Back in Indy I was able to see my doctor within a day or two because I was already a patient.

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Sarah • April 28, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Just wanted to give my 2 cents. I had a stress fracture a few years ago. I messed around with a podiatrist for a couple months and did not recover at all. Finally I saw an orthopedic doctor that specialized with feet. I was feeling better in a few weeks. So I would suggest skipping the podiatrist all together and find the orthopedic doctor.

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Danielle • April 28, 2011 at 5:06 pm

@Sue – nice one. :-)

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Netta • April 29, 2011 at 7:35 pm

I had a mysterious problem with my right foot (ankle), that is still actually undiagnosed. I spent three years of my life, at the age of 18-21, not able to spend more than 10 minutes standing, or 15 walking, without immense pain shooting up my leg from my throbbing ankle. It happened that I was serving in the army at the time, and so “medical treatment” was getting a temporary break from kitchen/toilet duty etc. not very helpful.. To be honest, I also went through 3 stages of physiotherapy which hardly made a difference.
What it was, most likely, is that one of the strap thingies in the joint got stretched during a football match I played in high school, but x-rays hardly showed anything (“fluid accumulation”) and when I was finally about to get an MRI, it was already much better and I never got around to it in the end.
To make a looong story short,
the only thing that fixed my foot was a month in Greece, volunteering, and specifically spending 4-5 hours a day walking barefoot on the beach.
Now THAT was Physical Therapy!
I sincerely hope your condition gets better, SOON. I thought my life was over at 20 when nothing helped me. In short – when in doubt, head to the beach!
By the way, in Israel we don’t use inches for anything, including shoes. We survive :)

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Susan • May 2, 2011 at 12:49 am

No xray? That seems a little odd. :(

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Anna • May 2, 2011 at 4:44 am

@PastaQueen – ahhh, that’s not so bad then I guess. Just bad luck with timing.

I had a lot of trouble with the wait to see my assigned doctor in the UK (about 1-2 days) when I had undiagnosed hives. It wasn’t life threatening so I couldn’t justify a trip to the ER but by the time I got in to see the doctor they would be gone.

I ended up just standing at the surgery and crying until they let me see someone straight away. They then told me it would be 3 years wait (!) to have allergy testing done.

Think I prefer our (Aussie) system of any doctor, anywhere. We have our regular doctor but if it is urgent and they aren’t available we just ask for whoever is free or ring another surgery. It means there aren’t sick people needing one doctor while another one sits idle.

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Gingersnapper • May 2, 2011 at 5:26 pm

I don’t have any kind of diagnosis, but I want to comment how odd it is that so many people have received type-of-shoe advice. I hadn’t thought about it before, but surely it’s terribly unnatural to wear shoes at all! It seems more likely they are the source of a foot problem than a solution, especially heels.

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Angela • May 3, 2011 at 12:44 pm

You should try wearing Dansko clogs for a while.
They cures many foot ailments!

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Jessica • May 9, 2011 at 12:10 am

I feel your pain I have been dealing with a cranky auto immune disease for a year now and in december I hurt my foot just like you I couldn’t pin point exactly when I injured it and after about 6 weeks we finally found I had torn the tendon in the arch of my foot and had to be in a boot for 3 months and it still hurts. Argh! How frustrating I am sorry you have to deal with this.

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Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog JenFul.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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