Tag Archives: pictures

Morton’s Toe? Say What?

I know, I know what you’re thinking.  More?  Honestly, I can’t make this shit up.  I was researching something totally unrelated today and discovered a reason for something I first noticed many months ago but hadn’t thought worth discussing.

Sometime around January, I noticed blisters and calluses forming on my right foot in new places – namely, on the ball of my foot below the 2nd toe and on the edge of my big toe and at the side ball of foot.

The one under the 2nd toe seemed especially strange since the other two could be from shoe rub, but how do you explain getting one on the bottom of your foot in such a specific small place?  It concerned me a bit since it meant my gait was changing and surely not for the better, but ultimately I just forgot about it.

Recently though, I’ve been bothered again by the same areas on the same foot, they’ve been blistering and re-callusing, though the one under the 2nd toe remains an unchanged permanent fixture.  Again, I thought it might be shoes, I’m in a larger pair of Kinvara 3s these days, but switching shoes still makes those hotspots apparent.

So today, when looking for something else brought me to a page with calluses illustrated exactly as they are on my foot, it made me laugh right out loud.  What was funny? Well, it’s Morton’s Toe.  No way!  Way.

Here’s an illustration from the page I linked to. These are exactly where my calluses are. I didn’t even realize I had the one near the little toe till I saw the picture and yep, got that one, too.

Now, if you’re a runner, you’ve surely heard about Morton’s Toe – lots of people have it and it’s always listed under common runner foot problems.  But it’s always described as when your 2nd toe extends past your big toe.  Mine doesn’t.  And because mine doesn’t, I’ve always ignored any articles or posts on the subject since it clearly did not apply to me.

Turns out, it’s the length of the 2nd metatarsal that counts, not the length of the toe.  If that bone is longer, the brunt of your weight lands there first, which is why a callus forms in that seemingly odd spot.

Not only do I have the longer bone and the tell-tale calluses to go with it, but in the oddest coincidence, I had just noticed this week that when I’m fatigued (it was a week of super-pooped runs) my right foot lands outwards, towards 2 o’clock.  So Tuesday evening, I started glute exercises because I thought the foot turnout indicated a muscular imbalance.  I also started one-leg balance exercises on a wobble cushion because the difference in weight distribution between left vs. right foot was so obvious.

So to find in a totally roundabout way that the calluses, foot turnout and balance differences are all due to this one thing that has an actual name, is not a mystery and can be fixed with some padded moleskin…well Yay!!  Plus my dad’s name was Morton, so I like this problem all the more.

Can’t wait to try out this handy dandy fix tomorrow.

And with that, I think I’m running out of medical encyclopedia entries, so hopefully next week will bring a post about something else.  I’m crossing fingers and my Morton toe.

Marathoners Are Whiners

The Philly Marathon occurred yesterday.  While I didn’t partake, being in no shape to race anything for a while yet, I did enjoy a full social weekend of friends, food and drink.  I’m too tired to write a play-by-play but here are the stand-outs…

Friday night at around 10:00 pm, I’m winding down in my PJs, relaxing before my houseguest Kevin arrives the next day (oh look! Kevin just posted a Facebook Check-in at the Philly airport…I’m gonna Like that and write Woohoo!) when about an hour later, I get a bewildered text from him.  His in-laws, who were supposed to pick him up at the airport and give him a place to stay for the night, were nowhere to be found.  Nobody was answering their phones.  The poor thing asked if he could crash at my house a day early, to which I texted back “Of course! Though it’s too bad your family doesn’t love you anymore”.  Turned out to be a fun night with much gabbing and cocktails.

As is the usual in these race weekends, food was a major player in the festivities with lunches and dinners where I got to hang with a fantastic cast of online friends, some I’d never met before but whose reputations preceded them: Troy and Marianne, Greg, Brock, Bob and their lovely DW/GFs, not to mention my old darlin’ pals Stevi and Chris.

Race morning came and Kevin left for the start (he would end up snagging a coveted sub3 finish time, here’s his race report) while Stevi appeared at 6:45am with booze in hand for our cheering extravaganza.  Screaming, swigging, cowbell clanging, and one horrifying moment when my phone slipped out my back pocket into a toilet I’d just peed in were the notable events of the morning.  At least the phone survived.

As for myself, I gained two blisters on my cowbell hand which I believe are infected with MRSA or Ebola, a horribly sore back (I hadn’t rehearsed cowbell form beforehand), a multi-hour case of acid reflux from Irish coffee overload and a sore throat from screaming.  So those marathoners can go suck it, they think they have the hard job?  Bunch of whiners.

Me and Troy

Pre-race dinner: Me, Greg, Tinelle, Brock, Bob, Denise, Kevin

Guzzling girlies! Stevi and me.

This is what I look like when I’m 100% happy (a.k.a. a little drunk)

A Vacation To Remember

Tuesday: San Diego
Plane lands at 1pm, I’m met at the airport by Coach Adam/A muse who has hired a Smart Car.  I use Zipcars here in Philly, but these are even cooler – funny little electric cars you don’t reserve, you just walk out to the street and if you see one, you can use it.  When you’re at your destination, you park it and walk away for the next person to drive.  Neato.

Adam was a great tour guide, pointing out sections of race courses while I gulped at the hills.  “Fast and Flat” does not exist in the San Diego race lexicon as far as I can tell.  Eventually we park the car and I get a walking tour of his neighborhood, a uniquely hip area with lots to see.  Here’s this neat billboard that says “Before I die I want to __________” for passers-by to fill in with chalk.  We talked to a journalist for a bit who was writing a story on it for the newspaper then moved onward to a fantastic Mexican spot where I had fish tacos to die for.

Soon after, Louis and Jackie picked us up to take us to a beer garden/warehousey type place called Green Flash where we met up with Adam’s lovely wife Stacie and Matt and his fiance Erin.  I’m not a beer drinker but my method of choosing highest alcohol content worked out well.

Jackie and Louis own a lobster business and work crazy hours, sometimes getting up at 2:30am though I think 4:30 work start is the norm, so they were gone when I woke up.  I had an extremely trying day lounging by the pool watching hummingbirds bounce from blossom to blossom in the soft San Diego air.

That evening, Jackie made an incredible meal of lobster, beefsteak tomato salad and champagne. I am salivating as I write this – my god it was good.  The next day I had my first lobster roll ever (more drool on the keyboard) but I’m jumping ahead.

Jackie brings me with her to work at 6am, the plan being she’d finish up loose ends before our roadtrip to Yosemite commenced.  Meanwhile, Louis would get the trailer, then we’d start the journey at 9am.  My roommate for the trip appeared, Shelby, who would follow in her car as we made our way north.

Here’s Jackie in lobster-gathering regalia, pulling some orders before we leave.  It was really cool to see her in action because when someone tells you they own a lobster business it’s very hard to picture what in hell that actually entails.  It also makes a great contrast to the delicately beautiful bride she would become 2 days later.  But again, I’m jumping ahead.

The ride was huge fun; Jackie, Louis and I made for easy road companions chatting the whole way while Skye, the Wonder Husky, lay quiet as a mouse in the back (such a good boy!).  Somewhere outside of Los Angeles, while stuck in traffic, Shelby texts Jackie “Did you see the goats?”  We had no idea what she was talking about until a car passes with 2 goats in the back, 3 dogs in the back seat and another dog in the passenger seat next to a young girl driving.  While editing the photos, I now see the license plate says Alaska.  Go figure.

Later that afternoon, after a stop at the Sun-Maid raisin factory (raisin capital of the world), we arrived at our destination for the night, Chukchansi Casino.  There, we met up with more friends and family of the wedding party, including Charlie (another RW forumite) and his wife Bonnie and a bit later, Adam and Stacie.  After dinner, the runner group of us hung out at the trailer and drank margaritas.

Friday: Yosemite
First thing, those guys met up for a run but I did not, deciding to take a clump of off-days to get the knee finally over and done with.  Back on the road, we get to Yosemite around midday and I’m jaw agape at the beauty of it all.

But there is much on the agenda as far as wedding preparations, meeting with the event planner at the hotel where the reception would be, then on to the chapel where Shelby and I hang out with Skye while the wedding folks rehearse, taking photos and walking around.

After that, we got installed in our rooms at the Yosemite Lodge (a really sweet place, very rustic), cleaned up and went to the BBQ Louis and Jackie had arranged.  Aside from great food and company (including more forum/runner friends! Barb, Lorina and Nestor), Adam brought his guitar and thoroughly entertained us with the buckets of talent he and his JewFro possess.  Here are Barb and I looking like we’re on a date with Adam behind, crooning to the crowd.

Afterwards, Adam still keeping it musical while the babes keep it hot.

Saturday: Wedding Day
6am we meet for a run (this time I join, yay!) and it was such a great experience, running on a beautiful trail in the middle of a national park with a group of folks I adore…amazing.  Jackie, Barb and I ran a little over 5.5mi while the other guys went on for 10.  That was actually 1.5mi more than I’d planned due to babying the knee, but I was A-OK from start to finish!  Huge sigh of relief.

At around 10am, Jackie and Stacie (maid of honor) start getting worked on by the hair and makeup ladies, then at 3:15, all us smartly dressed wedding guests (40 people total) board the shuttle to the chapel.

The ceremony was simply wonderful: Jackie looked like a model, Louis so handsome in his tux.  If you missed a previous post where I mentioned the two lovebirds, they’ve been together 20 years, he proposed to her 17 years ago! Finally, they’re officially hitched.

Cutest chapel, ever!

The Bride and Groom with Skye. They clean up well.

Remember the gal slinging lobsters? Yeah, this is her.

Gratuitous group shot so you can what dress and shoes I wore.

The reception was a blast, great dinner, lots of dancing.  I drank like a fish and surely embarrassed myself though I’m not sure to what extent since I was so drunk by the end.  As it should be.

Everyone meets for breakfast and many goodbyes as most of the guests depart for home.  Hugs and kisses abound but a good group of us are staying an extra day so the festivities continue.  Louis, Jackie, Shelby, Barb, Skye and I take a hike in the afternoon that includes a swim in the crystal clear river.  We are delighted to see a deer pee in the river, a sight none of us have ever witnessed before.  They kinda look like dogs when they do it, going back on their haunches.  That’s probably more than you’ll ever want to know about deer.

We clean up and go for dinner, meeting up with Jackie’s mom and dad for a last group meal. Yet another fabulous lady shot despite my hair looking like a pencil eraser.


Another breakfast meetup for final goodbyes, but before that, I go for a short solo run, 3.5mi looping a couple times past the lower Falls – a gorgeous, solitary way to say goodbye to Yosemite.  Best of all, I do not wear my knee brace and I feel healthy and right.

Back on the road, we take a scenic way out of the park.  One of the things I haven’t mentioned is that Louis and Jackie are such experienced Yosemite travelers that they make fantastic tour guides.  They’ve even camped there in the dead of winter with piles of snow around, so their stories added enormous depth to the entire trip.

What is this thing you call a “jacket” in July?  Does not compute.

The route back was really cool: mountainous desert which I’d never seen before, wind whipping constantly in a surreal landscape. We hit San Diego after 9pm, a long day of driving but solid fun with hours of easy conversation.  A late dinner and then it’s back to their beautiful house for my last night in California.

I think these lovebirds will last.

Jackie makes me a great breakfast, gives me snacks for the flight and after many hugs and smooches, I am back inside the airport, homeward bound.  I’m sad it’s over though we’ve already begun talking about next year’s Yosemite trip. Count me in, I’m there.

I wake up very early this morning because, unlike the sweet air of California, it’s already hot and gnarly at 6am in Philly.  I put on my running garb, grab the Shuffle and Garmin and out I go.  For some reason, I feel lighter and faster than I have in weeks, my legs feel zippy and strong and I run with joy in my heart on the river path – just 4 miles of unadulterated happiness but it’s more than enough to know all is right with the world.  Thank you, Jackie and Louis, you gave me a fresh shot of life just when I needed it.  Congratulations to you kooky kids, you were made for each other.  Here’s to love!  Cheers.

The Road Back

Riddle me this, Batman: What’s damp, smells like dead animals, looks like crap but is the most beautiful thing in the whole wide world?

A hamper of dirty running clothes.

So far, the road back has been fantastic.  I ended up taking Friday off – my legs were not ready for 3 days in a row, but Saturday was a sweet 6-miler and today…8 miles, baby!  The Broad St. Run was this morning (huge 10-mile race) which marks the last of my missed races this season so my slate is now clean and ready for new beginnings.

Two wonderful things
1) No more ankle kicking at all, even lightly, which means I’m 100% back in balance again. It’s so nice not having to scrub encrusted dirt and blood off my ankles after a run (that was a painful few weeks there).

2) I can now barrel down hills like a normal person again!  My body is doing what it’s supposed to without a second thought.  I’ve kept this to myself till now because I didn’t want to be more doom and gloom considering everything that was already going on, but the downhill “situation” had me wondering if I’d have to quit racing for good.

In the last race I did, the week before going in the hospital, I mentioned having faltered on a downhill.  The truth is, I came close to messing up someone else’s race and could have caused a serious jam…

At the top of a hill where I went “whoa” and had to put my arms out for balance, I came to a near stop without warning and then it took me most of the hill before I was able to run smoothly again. When I went “whoa” a guy behind me made an angry noise (rightly so) because he almost careened into me.  This has been weighing heavily on me because it’s one thing to lose time on downhills but to endanger others would be unforgivable so needless to say…major joy to see that symptom gone.

I’m still kicking myself (proverbial ass, not ankles) for ever having thought this stuff was in my head.

A long overdue Week In Review
Goodness, it’s fun to include one of these again. Not much to say I haven’t already, just Yay!

Total: 22 miles

I hope you all have a Happy Monday tomorrow. I’m getting my tits smashed first thing in the morning. Can’t wait. Then I’m going to call my stupid Primary doctor’s office to ask why the updated referral for my eye exam (which is for eye allergy and standard exam) was given a diagnosis code for “Iron Deficiency Anemia”. That’s an insurance screw-over waiting to happen. Oh, the fun never ends…

Recovery Quirks and A Mental Morass

The first 2 days of recovery were surprisingly easy. Friday, I comfortably drove 45min to NJ and back for a voiceover job so I figured the next day, I’d be ready for a long walk in the park.  What a surprise to wake up in a good amount of hurt. All I could do yesterday was lie in bed with the laptop watching old episodes of Top Chef.

My innards. An angiogram image from a few weeks ago.

There is a common reaction the doctor warned me about called Post Embolization Syndrome that includes pain, nausea and fever.  I thought I’d avoided it since I don’t have nausea or feel feverish, but that article says it arises 72 hours after (bingo!) so maybe I’ve got PES Lite.  Apparently, it lasts about 3 days so after tomorrow I should be golden.

It’s not an entirely bad thing anyway, since it signifies the death of the tumor. Good riddance, sucka! And the pain is manageable – I still haven’t felt inspired to fill the Percocet prescription, regular ole ibuprofen is keeping the sharp stuff at bay.  That, and laying on my ass which I do so well.

I’d say I’ve gotten off easy: this bit of ouchie and only a short, yet amusing bout of what I refer to as  “Junkie Itch”.  Apparently, coming off morphine can give you itchy skin.  When released from the hospital, I ended up taking a bus home (after waiting almost an hour for a cab to arrive) so I was walking and scratching my way home from the stop.  “I need to score, man…c’mon help a sister out.”

As you can see, another side effect is interjecting gritty street talk into blog posts – or shtreet talk as they say in Philly.  Aside from that, I didn’t get any bruising at the point of entry so all I have to show for this adventure is a tiny red dot on my thigh.

But while the embolization left no lasting trace, my mind is a jumble of loose ends.  Did this thing make a difference?  If my condition is improved is that due to the procedure or the weeks of rest leading up to it?  And if it’s not better or continues to waffle on and off, what makes me think getting the second hemangioma embolized will make a difference? It’s enough to give a girl heartburn.  But seriously folks, the conflicting doctor’s opinions have screwed with my head royally.

On a positive note, something I noticed while laying on the stretcher prior to the operation, is that my foot drop has improved.  I’m not sure what that indicates since last week I still had both good and bad days (on bad days my foot scuffles the ground) but it’s something.

As far as getting back to running, I was going to start run/walking on Tuesday, but since tomorrow will still be hurty, I’ll push it back a day or two.  I wish I could say I’m completely super excited to try running again but this open-endedness inserts a good amount of fear and dread into it as well.  Regardless, I’ve decided to work with whatever the legs give me: as long as I’m able to move forward, even I feel weird and “off”, I’ll continue to run.

This is important because part of my fear is that, if it wasn’t the hemangioma’s fault, building back the activity level might aggravate the symptoms.  But if that’s going to happen, now is better than later since I have a month before my follow up CAT scan and doctor appointments.  Better to blast it back into the open while everyone’s attention is still on it – if it’s a coaxable thing, that is.

As you can see, as positive a gal as I am, I’m not in any way confident that the hemangioma was the answer.  Let’s see how it goes from here.

Hat Full O’ Pee

Today’s mission:
Pee into the hat (their name for it, not mine) for the next 24 hours.  In installments, that is.

Jazz hands optional

Vascular Surgeon
First doctor of the day.  He said that while the hemangiomas are large, the only time his team operates on them is when there’s pain involved so it’s more likely the liver surgeon’s realm.  He said I might need an angiogram so they can see what’s going on in the vessels.  Not at all convinced about the “steal syndrome” theory from the neurosurgeons (that blood from my legs is being rerouted to my liver) since that would be beyond rare and if true, one for the journals, he doesn’t dismiss the possibility entirely.  His boss will be in tomorrow to give me a look.

Ortho Guy #2
A couple hours later, a different ortho guy than yesterday came to visit, refuting the initial guy’s analysis.  He thinks my stenosis is likely the garden variety “everyone gets it” amount.  When I asked why Ortho guy #1 was so doom and gloom, he said Ortho #1 just started his training whereas he, Ortho #2, is finishing his training. Aha! Teaching hospital, understandable, I guess.  He also brought up steal syndrome and thought it could be a viable possibility.

It’s really hard to sleep here: the room is hot and there are lights and sounds at all times so I’ve been getting 3-4½ hours a night.

Last night for the first time, I finally got to sleep at a normal hour, 12:30am, but at 2am, Ernestine wakes up for a snack and television, lasts about 15 minutes before falling back into snorey sleep while I lie awake listening to her TV.  I eventually ask a nurse to turn it off, drifting off around 3am to be woken at 6 by her bustling about.

Ernestine was in a tither, and understandably so, she could be discharged but had no house keys so she was stuck.  She could go to a friend’s house but they irritate her and they smoke.  After an hour or so when she realizes they’re really discharging her, she’s getting more and more excited “my blood pressure’s going up!  I’m in so much pain!” though seemingly on purpose since her tears end on a dime depending on who’s around.  Two seconds after you think she’s going to die, she does an April Fools joke.

My guilty conscience drove me to open the curtain and talk with her (mainly so she’d calm the fuck down and let Social Services get her outta here) but she’s in total mixed message mode “you people want me to go, I’m going!”.  Next, the nurse says she’ll retest her BP and if it’s high she can stay another day but 30 minutes later, I overhear a pity-me message left on her son’s voicemail saying she’ll just have to go to another Emergency room but doesn’t like the other one because it has roaches.  Damn you, Ernestine, there’s only room for one drama queen in this room!  But tonight, once again, there will be two.

She just walked by my curtain and said “you still on that toy?”  Yeah, Ernestine…still on the toy.

Should be busy. I’m having an abdominal aorta thing in the morning to help determine if the blood is indeed being “stolen” from legs to liver or not.  Also, the head doctors from the different departments will be in, so I’ll receive more authoritative consultations and also, my liver MRI will have been read and discussed.  Additionally, I might even be able to get the pulmonary testing done, which I’m genuinely looking forward to though it has nothing to do with the main problem.  Last but not least, my dear old friend Ridgely is coming down from NYC for the afternoon.  Good stuff.

7pm Edit: Ernestine is checking out!  But of course, I’m a sly fox and asked if I could take her photo…

In surprisingly good health now that her son can pick her up.