Sore feet and a lesson not learned

Today I had the first (of two) MRIs. Right foot first, because right foot is the most sore. The radiologist asked me before the scan started, ‘Where does it hurt?’. I said, ‘Here. Oh and here. And here, and also here, and sometimes here.’

It’s a funny position I find myself in. The number of times people have made some sort of joke about how I probably walked to the party/cafe/office/wherever it is I’ve met them. Every time I laugh and say ‘Haha no.’ thinking to myself, I wish I could have.

There’s something ironic in walking 20km a day for 50 days, only to get home and not really be able to walk anywhere, even around the block. I mean, I could walk places. I would get sore though, if I did. And somehow, while it felt acceptable that my feet should hurt every freaking day while I was walking the track, it no longer feels ok for me to keep pushing my feet to the point of pain and swelling every day. The pain felt like something I should expect while I was on the track, now it feels like something is wrong. Something probably was wrong, the whole time. But my determination to finish was overriding that message. And now the message of wrongness is overriding the other messages I have, of wanting to walk and be active, of wanting to keep training at aikido. I initially went back to training (I was going to have a grading for a new belt in December) but now I’ve had to pull out of the grading and just stop training altogether. Just. Stop.

I’m trying to not even walk the 750m to the train station at the moment – I’m riding my bike instead. It seems that walking on concrete/bitumen is much harder on my feet than the bush (no surprises there), so they get sore very quickly.

I feel an uncomfortable shame in admitting this. Somehow its another reason to find myself not-quite-good-enough. As though its a personal failure that my joints are complaining after holding me up through a 1000km hike. I’m also frustrated that any fitness I built up is just melting away again as I spend day after day sitting around in the office or on the couch at home. It goes against my self-identity to be sitting around doing sweet FA. And yeah, I know, I could be swimming or out cycling. But I’m stubborn and fussy and want to just do the movement that I want to do, not my second-tier movement options.

And still, I have no regrets. If I went back in time and knew what I know now, I would still keep going til the end of the track. The benefits I’ve gained from the whole experience outweigh the tendon damage. And I have a sneaking suspicion that this is part of it. To experience coming home and having to compromise. To have to make a (tough) call to stop my aikido training, to finally get to the point where I’m forced to honour the calls from my body and stop pushing it to be something it’s not. Its been a recurring theme for me throughout my life, from the time I was about 16. To be experiencing regular (usually daily) body pain, but to be in conflict about it. Ive always wanted so badly to be active that I would, again and again, keep pushing myself through the pain, whilst wondering two concurrent thoughts – one, am I just being over sensitive and complaining? Probably nothing is really wrong; and two, I’m worried that something is really wrong and I should probably find out what it is so I don’t do myself serious damage.

This is the almost constant push/pull that I live with on the regular. For some reason, I still don’t completely trust my body when it tells me something is sore. Perhaps because there’ve been times when I have had some pain or another, which has just settled down and not ended up to be a big deal. Or I’ve just learned to live with it. But there’ve also been other times when I’ve pushed on for months (years!) only to find there was a legitimate reason for my pain – torn ligaments, usually. So obviously I still haven’t learned whatever lesson I need to learn here.

How to trust my body. When enough is enough. When to ask for help. When to admit that I’m struggling. When to stop. When to keep going.

Tomorrow I get the MRI results, and hopefully can then make an informed decision about how best to honour and care for these hard-working and long-suffering feet of mine.

6 Replies to “Sore feet and a lesson not learned”

  1. I am sorry your feet are so sore. I read a book about a young American woman who did a lif-changing walk and her feet were very sore too, but they healed. There is a built-in problem in the situation, because athletes are always glorying in pushing through the pain, like it is a good thing and we should always do it. So then what about listening to your body? Total contradiction. I too am now wanting to know the results of your scans.

    1. Thanks Judy. Yes there is definitely a strong cultural aspect to the sense that we should keep going/push through isn’t there. It’s actually quite hard to stop when you’ve been in the habit of pushing! xx

  2. Hi Louise,
    We have visited a few times on Instagram. I’m Kimmi, aka GypZyGyrl.
    Just wanted to pop in here to say ‘hi’ and also ‘you’re not alone’. You are such an inspiration. I appreciate your honesty about your struggles. I too have dealt with pain for many, many years. Some have resulted in diagnosis with a resulting treatment. Much of the pain I have learned to live with to some degree because the alternatives of living doped up on medicines or having surgeries I found unacceptable.
    This isn’t to say one shouldn’t use medicines or have surgeries just that for me I grew tired of the side effects of medications and found the lack of improvement via surgeries unacceptable for me.
    I’m currently overhauling my life so that I may focus on me. On my health both mental and physical. Besides your sweetness, your philosophy of moving for the health of our minds really makes so much sense to me and is what first attracted me to your posts.
    I hope dearest that you will find help and healing for your feet. I also hope that the knowledge of the difference you make in the lives of others will give you strength to face these difficult times.
    Sending you much love, peace and warm hugs. Kimmi

    1. Thanks Kimmi. Hmm yes it’s another piece of the journey then, to go from moving for our minds to making peace with sometimes NOT moving for our greater health. Look forward to hearing how your life overhaul goes, it’s certainly a process. All the best with it xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *