Not so Subtle Hints with Time

I remember a remark by my mother when she was a few years older than my 75 years. Kristine and I visited her at her home. I asked mom how she was feeling. Her response was”, don’t ask.”

When I was a vigorous, tennis playing, thirty one year old in 1976, one of my “big” toes began to ache one day. “Great” is the medical term for that largest toe. I saw my primary physician at the University of Maryland Medical Center. It was a convenient short walk up the block from my workplace, The Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

He told me I had bad arches and that my feet were flat. He said those abnormalities had caused the arthritis even at 31. Rest was suggested and orthotics were fitted. Orthotics are custom made inserts for the bottom of one’s feet. The rest resolved the pain in less than a day.

The orthotics were effective through about 1995. I was 50. The pain reared its ugly toe again. This time a fine podiatrist indicated I was ready for a new, better pair of orthotics. They were what one might call, as with a new class of medicines, the “next generation” of orthotics. Rest healed the pain in a day. The orthotics were effective for decades.

Almost two years ago, around November of 2018, I had great toe pain that didn’t heal for about three days. It was disconcerting and surprising. Nonetheless I had been walking on flat feet for 73 years.

My next re-occurrence was far sooner than in the past. On 4/11/19 after vigorous touring of Israel for several days, including old, cobbled streets and narrow caves, I began to get my first serious nighttime toe pain in the left, great toe. I had learned in medical school that the pain that awakens or keeps the patient awake is one every physician should be concerned about.

I was unable to fall asleep. I read a book until about 3 am when in complete exhaustion I got a few hours of sleep.

Finally on 4/26/19, exactly the same thing occurred, but, with my right, great toe instead of my left. I recovered to walking without a limp in about three days. Hey, it could have been four or five. Things are changing.

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