Shapes and soles and slow

I am told I have to re-shape my body.

Background: In August 2010, I got a small cut on my foot that bloomed into a full-fledged foot ulcer. This eliminated all my serious attempts at exercise. By December 2010, the ulcer had just about healed and I was all set to start exercising again. Then I found a new cut on my foot. I blogged about it, trying to be positive… and then discovered yet another wound just after writing that blog post.

Since that time, that cut in my foot has periodically re-opened. It’s particularly prone to do so when I think it’s all healed: I start exercising again, take off my shoes, and learn that it was still too soon.

My podiatrist told me that as result of the original foot ulcer, my gait has changed. There’s something in the way I now walk that leads to the skin of my foot cracking open. There’s been no infection, and I know how to take care of it. But it’s dangerous for a diabetic to have such a recurrent wound; I don’t want to get another foot ulcer.

The podiatrist tells me that what I need is a set of custom-crafted insoles for my shoes. He made a plaster cast of my foot, much the way they do for the custom-fitted moccasins that you can get at a Ren Faire. After five weeks, the insoles arrive. They’re not just insoles; according the brochure that comes with them, they are "bio-mechanical foot orthoses."

Wow! This goes right along with the "accommodating intraocular lenses" that replaced the real lenses of my eyes when I had cataract surgery. Soon I’ll be more machine than man,chopping off my son’s hand, and tossing emperors down air shafts. Cool!

Actually, I don’t know from where they’re getting "bio-mechanical." The insoles are layers of cork and leather. They’re well-sculpted and look pretty neat. It’s a shame that no one will see them, except to the extent that they make me half-an-inch taller.

You have to adjust your feet to these insoles. The podiatrist tells me to use them for one hour the first day, two hours the second day, and so on up to eight hours. Then just wear them.

I get up to three hours and… you guessed it. The cut on my foot opens again, exactly the thing that the insoles were supposed to prevent.

It’s not fair to "blame" the insoles. Before I started using them, I dressed my foot daily with foot pads that were originally intended to deal with calluses. I stopped using them when I started wearing insoles for part of the day. The skin probably re-opened when I was wasn’t wearing the insoles.

Back to square one: dress the foot, heal the wound, gradually start weaning my feet to the insoles. I carry around spare foot pads to wear after I take the insoles out of my shoes. Finally, I graduate into full-time insole insertion.

And dammit, the cut opens again!

This time, I keep wearing the insoles, and just use do a careful job of bandaging the cut. I begin to see a pattern: it’s not the insoles. The cut opens if I bend my foot too much, stretching the skin around the region of the cut.

The insoles prove their worth, though: Normally the cut takes a week and a half to heal. With the insoles, it takes only three days.

Last week, the checklist reads: Insoles in shoes. Cut: healed. It’s time to start my walking exercises again. I make a couple of rounds walking inside the Palisades Mall, taking it easy, doing only 2/3rds of what I used to do.

Next day: back pains. They last for three days. (And the darn cut opens again, and again I can heal it quickly.)

The podiatrist explains: For these kind of insoles, it’s not just the base of the feet that are affected. The entire body posture is changed. Two-thirds of my usual walk was still too much. I have to walk only 1/4th as far for three days, then perhaps 1/2 as far for three more days, and so on. I have to give my entire body a chance to adjust.

Last night, I walk for only ten minutes. This morning… back pains. But not as much, and they were gone in an hour.

The situation is improving. It’s slow, too slow for my taste. But I have to go slow, otherwise there might be another month-long delay.

I’ve spent the last eight months feeling the shape of my body change due to the lack of exercise. If I can reshape my feet and back, I can reverse the rest of it.

All right, enough whining. This weekend I’m going to Lunacon, and I’m not going to let shape and soles get me down!

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