A Foot on the Beach

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If I’ve learned anything during the large number of years I’ve now lived, it’s that travelling under your own steam [bike or feet] in the open air helps to alleviate all kinds of problems. This is much documented, of course; but since I began to exercise with any kind of regularity [post children-in my 30s] I can vouch for the benefits.

Once upon a time I ran. I ran almost every day, from my 30s until my mid-50s. When you run almost every day it starts to become essential and a cessation of the activity is a source of stress in itself. But here is the injustice of health and ageing. Some runners are very lucky and able to continue into extreme old age. Others, like myself and Husband have had to hang up their running shoes and admit defeat. Injury has forced us off the jogging trail and on to the hiking path-or perhaps, in summer, the cycle path.

When you have overcome the bitter disappointment of giving up running, walking can take over as the meditative, cathartic activity you enjoyed before. As a writer I can drift off into the plot and characters of my current project, ponder tricky domestic issues, compose, get ideas, think. 

What, then, if walking is not possible?

Since last May I’ve been inflicted with an annoying, painful inflammation of the membrane under my foot. This inflammation is known as plantar fasciitis and I have been subjected to repeated bouts since the running years, having had steroid jabs, ultrasound treatments and physio, worn jelly pads, worn condition-appropriate footwear, religiously kept up targeted exercises and been strapped up. This time the problem is particularly stubborn and slow to respond to the twice-weekly physio I’ve opted for.

So as part of the regime I’m on for recovery I must walk on sand. This,  according to Alice, the physio is particularly beneficial if I go barefoot. Barefoot? We are now, officially in winter!

I am nevertheless fortunate in that where we live we are spoilt for beach choice and I can select from varied stretches of beach; from sheltered harbourside bays to wide expanses of sand washed by waves. Coasts are beautiful in any weather condition. A walker has only to wrap up and don appropriate footwear to appreciate a beach. A variety of wildlife abounds, now and then a curious sight, such as this alien-like skeleton adorning the sand. [In reality a dead swan].

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At the start of the regime it goes swimmingly, my foot responding well to the massage style of walking on sand and I stick to the modest distance Alice has recommended. But a subsequent,  over-ambitious walk sets me back and the offending foot complains stiffly. Baby steps then, and I have to remember I’ve had this condition [this time] since May…

 

 

Confession of a Hypocrite

                Anyone who has followed Anecdotage since the start will know what my opinions are on the National Health Service. It was a wonderful concept and is a precious resource to be preserved at all costs. I still think this. But after eight months of crippling heel pain and having followed all instructions as to exercise [no impact, stretch the Achilles, roll the instep, bottle of ice] and having exhausted all the options the NHS can offer [ultrasound and steroid jabs], I am now faced with waiting yet another 6 weeks to see a specialist or going against my principles and seeing someone privately.

                I wouldn’t be doing this but for the facts that: a] I have yet to see the same GP twice regarding the problem, b] I have had to return to the GP surgery despite the physio’s recommendation for referral and c] The latest locum doctor-a young man called Sergei, handed me some sheets printed from a website with information I had ingested many months ago at the start of my own research and d] He concluded this brief consultation by shrugging his shoulders, indicating in no uncertain terms that he is unable, unwilling and uninterested in the difficulty.

                Of course I do understand that the condition is not life threatening. It is neither high profile [as, for instance, cancer] nor unusual. It is, however debilitating, painful, miserable, quality-of-life depriving and impacts hugely on overall fitness. If you are unable to exercise over a prolonged period you become unfit. Does it not make sense to enable people to exercise and thus keep themselves as healthy as possible?

                In a similar, parallel action I succumbed to my long-held, shallow, frivolous desire for whiter teeth by setting up an appointment with my own National Health dentist. Motivated by an approaching wedding, I was unaware that a certain amount of time would be needed to complete this cosmetic treatment, so waited one week for an assessment appointment to be told there was not enough time!

                I rang a local private practice. ‘Of course!’ affirmed the receptionist immediately-‘and we have a special offer for April!’ Result! My appointment was next day. I sank into a soft, leather armchair and watched TV until called. I was offered tea [rejected due to having clean teeth]. The dentist took photos-‘Yes-there is still time!’ BUT [of course there is a ‘but’] you will need this, this and this done before the process can begin’. This, this and this, naturally, cost stadium proportions of money. Still-there is TV on the ceiling above my head where I lie in the chair, Robert [the smiley dentist] and Lara [the smiley nurse] are friendly and reassuring. ‘Bread’ plays quietly in the background. It’s just as well it is comfortable, given that I will be spending almost as much time there as at home next week, that is, except for the sessions at Physiotherapy having my heel pummelled.

                So there! My principles are compromised. What is a health hypocrite to do these days?