Part Girl, Part Dinosaur

By | September 27, 2012

The doctors, MRIs, ultrasounds and x-rays have confirmed it: I have dinosaur feet.

Wait, what? Sorry, I’ll back up.

You may recall that back in May, I had the grand idea of joining the Runner’s World Summer Running Streak Challenge. The deal was that I’d run at least one mile every day for 38 days. Innocent enough. It’s worth noting that I have never been “a runner.” I love exercise of all flavors, but for some reason running just never struck my fancy. I couldn’t get hooked. Well, I wanted to. So I decided the RW Challenge was my opportunity to kick-start a passion for running. Cool. Game on.

Fast forward to Day 7 where I’m icing, limping, and cursing my bright idea to transform myself into a runner. I pulled up my sensibility pants and put the kabosh on the running thing when I realized the pain in my arches and ankles just wasn’t normal.

Fast forward to a few weeks later where I’ve reduced high impact exercise, iced the heck out of my achy feet/ankles, and still smart with each step. Not good. I visit a doctor. Her conclusion: ankle instability and tendonitis due to slight overpronation + low arches + weak ankle/foot muscles + overuse. Sounds reasonable.

So I went to physical therapy. I performed their surprisingly Lotte Berk-esque exercises a couple of days a week for a month. (As it turns out, an extra Physique 57 class package would have been cheaper, and more enjoyable as well.)

I wore their kinesthesiology tape. It looked awesome with ballet flats.

My PT guy clearly didn’t know how OCD I am when he decided on the taping color scheme.

A month later, no improvement. Further interventions included anti-inflammatory goo applied 2x a day, in addition to a splint worn at night. Talk about sexy sleepwear.

Not my foot. I was too embarrassed to allow photos.

I also heeded my doctor’s advice to trade in my Toms and flip flops for stability sneakers, and *like that* I became that girl who commutes to work in her pencil skirt and sensible shoes. Barf.

I did ALL of these things religiously, but still, no improvement. Defeated, I went back to my doctor once again. Because tendonitis would have been long gone by now, she finally referred to a muskuloskeletal specialist who, I was promised, would be able to figure out what was going on. This wonderful person is named Dr. Stokes. I don’t think he is related to Kira Stokes, but in my dream world she’s his daughter. Don’t judge. In any case, people with the last name of Stokes are awesome in my book.

During my first appointment, Dr. Stokes, shadowed by Nervous Resident 1 and Nervous Resident 2, quickly concluded that there was something going on with my bones, and sent me for a bunch of scans lickity split. Fearing matching stress fractures, I bolted (in my sensible sneakers) to the nearest MRI machine.

It turned out that Dr. Stokes did NOT find stress fractures, but something a little freakish. I have an extra bone in each foot, called an accessory navicular. Basically it looks like I have 2 ankles- kind of like what I imagine a stegosaurus’ feet might look like. (AKA super sexy.) Why I never noticed in the past 30 years that other people’s feet don’t have that second bump is beyond me. I’m never again allowing myself to say “I’m a details person” after this. (Lies. I will.)

Not my feet. Some other poor schmo’s feed.

My “joint” where the accessory navicular meets the regular navicular is an angry, hot mess of a site- due to lots of walking, exercising, and life-ing. Hence, my pain.The great news: I finally know why running has always been a not-so-fun activity for me! The pretty bad news: There’s basically nothing I can do about it but deal. (I can also ice, take Advil, and continue to wear cushy sensible sneaks. But that’s still essentially under the heading of “just deal with it.”) My doctor’s sage summary of my condition was: “Your marathon career is questionable. I’d take up biking and swimming.”


Since that last appointment I’ve been trying to find a lesson in this story, because I refuse to believe that there’s nothing to be learned from the experience. Here are the “moral of the story” ideas I’ve flirted with, but I’ll let you choose your own adventure:

  • Option 1. Listen to your body. Yes, push yourself, but not into something that feels very wrong and results in injury/damage. You get one body to last your entire life. Even if it has dinosaur-like ridges and spikes, be good to it.
  • Option 2: Beware who you procreate with. Reverse Darwinism is alive and well.
  • Option 3: Our strengths are our strengths for a reason. I’ll never be that girl achieving a runner’s high during a long run, but I can do a mean standing split, and can smoke the average chap in a swim race. Our bodies were meant to do different things. And that’s ok. The awareness of it, however, is golden.