One of two things happened first. I can't remember which, seeing as it was June of last year, 14 months ago. Within two weeks of eachother, both my left-big toe and my left knee "gave out." My left-big toe went numb. Before the numbness took hold, it felt like the bones in my toes were banging together. It was sharp and fierce. I could even "hear" it, the way you can listen to what's happenng within your skin.
I stopped wearing those shoes, but the numbness was persistent. I was mostly numb on the right side (outer side) of my big-left toe.
Then, 2 weeks later, my knee went whacky (well, I think it happened in that order... It could have easily been reversed). A few years ago I was climbing up a barn ladder and hit my knee extremely hard. A few days later, when I bent my knee, a circular bruise perfectly encircled my patella, my knee cap. An ill-advised family member told me to "walk it off." It hasn't felt right since.
So, June of 2013, my toe is numb and my patella feel dislodged, like it's sloshing between my bones, trying to hop out of my skin.
Then, July of 2013, I started hitting the gym hard. I wanted to fine-tune my instrument (my body). So, I started seriously weight-lifting. A few weeks after amping up my gym routine and increasing my gym days to 5/week, I was in a right state.
I remember taking myself out on a date in downtown Kansas City. After checking out an awesome book at the library ("The Girl in the Song," a book that reveals the stories behind classic rock songs--SO GOOD!), I started walking to my chosen restaurant. I was a few blocks away, when my ankle literally couldn't go on. I had to stop where I was and pop into the nearest establishment, a hotel where I was consoled by my burger and slimy salesmen.
I put my ankle in a wrap-brace and hoped for the best. Everything got worse.
I was in so much pain after Acting class one day, that I called my mom, asking if we could afford the Emergency Room. She wisely advised me to see my General Practicioner instead (who is an absolute idiot and just throws pills at all my problems) and have him do the X-Rays instead. With a clean X-Ray of my ankle/foot and with heaps of pain killers in my purse, I was pissed.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!
I was referred to a specialist who performed an EMG, an excruciating procedure where they poke and prod at your muscles with thick needles for an hour. And you can't move. And the needles vibrate. That also came back clean. COOL!
I was then referred to a Neurologist (or maybe I saw him before?) who performed an MRI on my lower back. It ALSO came back clean. "Those are the prettiest discs I've ever seen." Go jump in a lake.
I was done with my idiot doctors who had done nothing for me other than put my poor mother in $7,000 worth of medical debt. AND WE HAVE INSURANCE. $7,000 we paid to learn next to nothing. And yet we have insurance. WHAT?!
I made due with my new lace-up brace and kept popping the Nervous-system-numbing pills the Neurologist gave me. That's something I can thank my Neurologist for. The pills helped, but they're habit forming and highly addictive so they scared the sh*t out of me. I made sure to only take them when I needed to, but it seemed like I needed them all the time.
He also told me that the problem was probably neurological and rooted in my lower back. I couldn't keep paying his hefty co-pay and he didn't even spend much time with me anyway when I shelled out the $75. When I would ask him questions or tell him details, he would sigh and tell me that he had other patients. Awesome bed-side manner! Way to honor your Hippocratic oath, Dr. Useless!
So, then I struggled on for a couple months. The pain came to a critical mass and I went to see a Chiropractor. She was amazing! She actually listened to me! She told me that a muscle had spasmed in my calf and pulled a ligament out of place. She had me lie face down on her table and clicked her magic Activator on the back of my heel (near my Achilles tendon) and WHABAM! I felt the ligament snap back over my patella, and back into place. It hurt like hell at the time, but after that, I started getting better.
I saw her 2/3 times a week and made progress, progress, progress for a few months. We finally got to a point where we plateaued. I definitely felt better than before, but my left leg still tingled and I didn't feel right.
Thats another thing--the tingling. I've been saying this since I was 12 (maybe younger) and no one believes me. After I exercise or do ANYTHING slightly strenuous (it could be running from the car to the door, or taking Ozzie on a light walk around the block) it feels like popcorn is popping inside my quadriceps, my thighs. It last for about 5-7 minutes. When I tell doctors, or anyone this, they're like, "Cool. You're a f*cking liar." I noticed it first (or remember it first) when I ran track (pathetically) in 7th grade.
Okay, so, back to the story. So it's like, January 2014 and I can walk without a brace but something is still wrong. Before, I literally couldn't point or rotate my left foot and toes at all (flexing has never been a problem). I had regained ~50% of my mobility!
I just kept chugging, preparing for my year-long working holiday in New Zealand.
Then, a week before I left, I received a massage. The masseuse had good intentions, but royally f*cked up my leg. She tried releasing the tension in my calf muscles, but ended up "re-injuring" my ankle. A few days later, I had to put back on my lace-up brace. I was devastated, defeated, and terrified.
I got to New Zealand and saw a Chiropractor immediately. He was the most attentive doctor I have ever had the pleasure of talking to. His treatment helped as much as any inital appointment can--not very. I saw him again and my condition slightly improved.
I dont have travel insurance. "Why not? Isn't that illegal? Isn't that dangerous?!" Well, yes. And while I did receive some financial support coming here, I mostly depend on myself. And when it comes down to eating or buying travel insurance, I'm gonna go with the bananas.
So, I'm in a foreign country, alone, with no insurance, and in so much pain that I can't sleep at night. Did I do it to myself? Yes. Will I punch you in the face? You betcha.
I've seen various Chiroprators throughout New Zealand (4 different ones on multiple occasions, respectively). I like them all for different reasons and they've all helped in in their own way. I saw a SacroCranial therapist who was AMAZING but also $80 per session. I saw a massage therapist, who is also a Reiki therapist, who helped me with a revelation. After his hour-long fabulousness, he said, "I think it's Neurological and rooted in your lower back."
KALOO KALAY WE'LL EAT TODAY LIKE CABBAGES AND KINGS!!!
So, a Neurologist and a Reiki dude are in agreement. Two fellas on opposite ends of the medical specturm think the same thing. I'm gonna go with, they're right.
I started hitting the gym hard again for unrelated stress. Oh god noooooooo! The ankle gave out again. Although it hurts like hell, this is also good news. Both times my ankle really went by the wayside, it was preceded by serious weight lifting (nothing too heavy. I use good form and know what I'm doing. I just do a good & varied circuit). I think all this has something to do with the leg press. It's (kind of) similar in position to giving birth, and a wise woman told me that other women, after childbirth, suffer from similar symptoms.
A week ago, while in Invercargill, I was walking to the Queens Gardens. I saw a building engraved with "The Neurological Disorder Society" and thought I'd pop in. I was just going to grab some brochures and have a look, when the sweetest lady insisted I sat down and tell her my whole story. Oh god. I criiiiiiiied. I must have gone though 8 tissues. She was really worried. She said it didn't sound like Parkinson's or anything like that, but it did sound serious. She even said, I might want to get an MRI of my brain. She gave me a lot of logical advice and finally made me feel like someone was taking me seriously and actually cared. While speaking with her, we came up with a plan. Here it is:
1) Raise a sh*t ton of money
2) Buy travel insurance
3) Go to the Neurological Society in Wellington & ask tons of questions
4) See a recommended GP in Wellington
5) Probably get referred to a Neurologist
6) Do whatever they say
7) If that doesn't work after 2 months, see a Chinese Doctor and start acupuncture
So, not I'm here in Franz Joseph Glacier at the Glow Worm Cottages. The wonderful news is that my boss is fabulous and her hostel is heavenly. I feel cared for here and a lot of the stress I was under at previous places has vanished. In a week or so, I'll move to Wellington where I'll house-sit for two months.
I have hope again that the fog I've been walking through might be lifted. I can't walk much further, and I'd really appreciate your help. I know all of you might not have $5 to throw my way, and that's just fine. Love, support, and feeling like I'm not alone in all this is extremely important for me right now. I love you all. Thanks for listening and go do something nice for yourself.
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