Climbing aboard the PT Boat

Today was my second physical therapy appointment for my numb right foot. Of course, this meant that when I woke up my foot felt fine for a few hours. I drove to the appointment because the temperature was dropping almost as fast as the wind was howling. Along the way, my foot became number than it has been in weeks.

At the PT place, the therapist I saw last week, put my right foot, now back to its usual numbness, through various gentle twists and turns. The working theory is that a big nerve in my foot has been damaged or is entrapped. The gentle twists and turns of my foot, ankle, calf, and entire leg are attempts to address this.The technique is actually called nerve flossing. I didn’t notice much difference. I was handed off to another therapist who gave me a number of exercises to do that seemed simple but actually were not all that easy, if done correctly.

Most of the exercises were designed to address my lower back and core strength to deal with the possiblity that my problem was related to my back. The doctor had alread ruled this out but the first PT person said that it’s possible that the EMG test was done when the nerve was not fully misbehaving, and thereby led to a false assesment.

I was doing fine, partly because many of the exercises were variations on the PT I routinely do for my back and core and on the yoga poses I do. Two exercises were particularly notable. First, I was doing something called the pointing dog. It involves kneeling on all fours and extending your right arm and left leg while squeezing your stomach and butt. Nearly all the exercises involved squeezing core and butt so by the time I got to the pointing dog my stomach and butt were pretty much all squeezed out. When I did the exercise my numbness in my right foot untensified and spread from below my ankle to pretty much my entire foot. Instead of numbing it was now tingling. We modified the exercise and made a note.

The second exercise that seemed to be fruitful was using a lacrosse ball to knead the muscles in my calves, my quadriceps and my hanstrings. This had no discernable effect on my hams or quads, but it hurt like hell on my calves. Each calf was all knots of tight muscles. Ah ha!

Of course, I have no idea if this has anything to do with my numb foot but it was interesting none the less. I go back next week for two more PT sessions. In the meantime, I am reconsidering rolfing, because it seems as if it might involve the kind of deep muscle massage that the lacrosse ball is getting at. A friend of mine highly recommends a rolfer in DC. Once I close the loop with the neurologist at the end of the month, I may give the rolfer a call.

The Continuing Saga of My Right Foot – EMG and Other Delights

I went back to my neurologist today. Her level of enthusiasm about my case makes each visit fun. She spent the first five minutes re-familiarizing herself with my symptoms. When I corrected one of her notes (my numbness is more intermittent than constant) she made the correction.  She seems very detailed oriented. Then she began the EMG test.

Electromyography or EMG is a test of the sensory and motor function in a specific area of the body. For me, this was my foot, my lower leg, and my right buttock. The test involves putting sensors on specific nerves and muscles and then using a separate device sending electical shocks into the muscles. When she did this to specific nerves I would feel a jolt down the nerve. When muscles were involved my foot or leg would react. Later in the test she poked a needle into a muscle and zapped the muscle. OW! Suffice it to say, I have very sensitive nerves.

There were many OW moments but they are very brief in duration.

She also did a tuning fork test on both feet. My left
Continue reading “The Continuing Saga of My Right Foot – EMG and Other Delights”

My Right Foot #6 – Huge Improvement

I laid off the bike for over a week hoping it might make a difference in my numb right foot. Nada.

So I rode to work yesterday braving the black ice.The ride in involved temperatures in the mid-30s and a stiff headwind. I managed not to slip once. Much thanks to the southbound riders who warned me of icy spots ahead. #bikedc people are the best. It took me a while but The Mule would not be stopped.

It was about 30 for the ride home but I had a tailwind which meant I was comfortable. And, wonder of wonders, it was light out for nearly one-third of my ride. We’ve added 17 minutes of daylight, mostly in the evening, since the solstice. It feels wonderful. There was quite a bit more ice but I knew where to look for it so I had no worries and not a single slip. Along the way I could feel the tendon that goes into the numb area of my foot snapping like it was a string on McCartney’s Hoffner. It feels totally strange but doesn’t hurt.

Today I drove to work listening to Los Lobos’s Kiko. If you can’t bike commute, you should at least have the proper cartunes. In the afternoon, I went to a new neurologist for the numbness in my left foot. I had gone to a neurologist a month ago but he was a disheveled old man who gave me the creeps. He didn’t examine me or look at the MRI disk I brought. I decided to switch.

My new neurologist took a thorough history of my back and nerve problems, looked at my MRI from last May and showed me the area of concern, and gave my feet, legs, and lower back a careful, methodical examination. She was really interested in my tendon too. And the acupuncture. And the orthotics. She told me my case matches her medical training to a T and was genuinely interested in my symptoms and me. I had trouble suppressing a smile through the entire visit. She is soooooooooo much better than Dr. Creepy.

And, not that it matters to my medical situation, she’s gorgeous. So’s my dermatologist. I can’t help it if I’m lucky.

And for the 8th day in a row, I practiced meditation. Why didn’t I do this before?

It’s going to be 29 degrees tomorrow when I get up. Sounds like a good day for a bike commute, don’t you think?

Reboot the Foot

I had my annual physical with my new primary care doctor. I am very glad I switched to him. He is an excellent listener and gave me a thorough looking over. The good news is I:

  • Have normal blood pressure
  • A resting pulse of 52
  • A normal EKG
  • Normal lung function (which is pretty great considering I am asthmatic)
  • Do not have diabetes
  • Do not have Lyme disease
  • Do not have an enlarged prostate
  • Have normal reflexes
  • Weigh about 32 pounds less than this time last year
  • Am still a tad over 6 feet tall
  • Have awesome levels of good cholesterol
  • Do not have a hernia

The bad news is:

  • My cholesterol level is 240 (not particularly alarming, but worth keeping an eye on)
  • I still have numbness in my right foot
  • I have horrible balance
  • I was unable to blindly touch my finger to my nose on the first try. (Doctor told me only half joking that a field sobriety test would be bad news)
  • I am seriously deficient in vitamin D
  • I am mildly depressed

The only real surprise was the vitamin D thing for which he prescribed a supplement of 2000 mg per day. I think a trip south would fix both the vitamin D and the depression things.

We discussed my discomfort with the neurologist I saw. He didn’t know the doctor but said that he wouldn’t object if I canceled all the tests scheduled for tomorrow and next week and get a new neurologist once my new medical insurance kicks in. So I canceled the MRI and the EMGs.  (I am still going to the sports acupuncturist on Monday.)

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night. I watched a couple of short videos on Rolfing. It looks interesting. It’s a slow, systematic massage from your toes to your head. It might not do my numb foot any good but could make my back happy. So I am thinking of giving it a go.

After the physical, I headed to work, sort of. Today was the office holiday luncheon. After about an hour and half we walked over Key Bridge to Georgetown and ate at Il Canale. We had four kinds of pizza and two kinds of pasta topped off with a canoli for dessert. Everything I ate was out of this world. I normally eat a light lunch but I made a big exception today. I was in serious food coma afterwards.

Tomorrow is going to be a cold bike commute. Good thing it’s Friday because I could use Friday Coffee Club.