Mrs Summerhouse and I were taking our usual, retirement, morning walk with the pups in our local park and, it being Wednesday morning, the morning after Tuesday night which is Mrs SH’s yoga class night, our conversation turned to how the class had been. Let me just explain, before I go on, that I have been suffering some physical problems of late, more of which in a moment. She said they’ve all got some kind of problem – backs being popular, shoulders, knees, close seconds. They’re like us she said, they’re all getting on a bit. Are there any young people in your class I enquired? Define young she said. Thirty or less, I replied. Yes, a couple but they don’t come every week. Apparently the class have a laugh about the number of modifications she has to make to allow for their injuries / disabilities. To further illustrate the point that they’re a bit crocked she told me she had given one of her class a lift home and she was in tears with the pain in her back. Yes, I know you’re thinking yoga doesn’t seem to be doing them a lot of good but I just mention it because this ‘crying whilst in pain’ business rings a bell with me.
I have three main areas of pain at the moment – the usual back problems, shooting pains in two of my fingers (the same finger on each hand which isn’t helping my musical ambitions) and pains in mostly my left foot, this in two parts – heel / insole and toes or is that three parts? The latter was so painful the other day I myself, fine manly specimen that I am, was practically reduced to tears. Well, I was in tears when one of the dogs jumped on my poorly finger in search of a biscuit. Fair brought a tear to my eye, as they say. The two part foot problem relating to my heel is called plantar fasciitis and was so painful and debilitating that I called my GP surgery to make an appointment, something I very rarely do. I don’t know what’s going on with GPs these days but the first appointment they could offer me was a month’s time. I expressed my disappointment. I called back on the emergency line, the highly unhelpful lady said this is the emergency line you will have to call back on the appointment’s line. I said this is an emergency. What is it? she asked, somewhat brusquely I thought. I can’t bloody walk. To cut a long and highly irritating story short I got an appointment that same afternoon. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that the guy I got was doing work experience, I presume. After describing my symptoms he said what do you think the problem is? I said plantar fasciitis. He didn’t disagree. Having proved correct in my diagnosis I knew what was coming next because I’d already looked on the internet – exercises. He printed me off a sheet of exercises about which he seemed to know precious little and that would have been the end of it had I not asked – do heel supports help? They can help some people, he replied. Should I be supporting the instep? That does help some people. What about a stick? That can help some people. Should I be using anti-inflammatory gel? OK, don’t tell me, it can help some people. Hmm, should I see a physiotherapist? Well you could. Just make me a bloody appointment would you. He went back to his computer with which he clearly felt more at ease and printed out an appointment sheet. It’s in two month’s time, he said. Grand. Thanks for your help and I hope you pass your exams.
The following week I went to see a physiotherapist privately, for which I paid £40, a £ a minute. He was very professional and told me I had got plantar fasciitis and recommended exercises which he drew as little stick men on a piece of paper, the personal touch I suppose you might say, no casual printing out from a computer. He also told me my problem was that I had weak calves and an inflexible ankle (how very dare he) and that was the root of my problems. So worth the money for this explanation even though it did make me feel even more unmanly than I did beforehand what with my crying and all. I declined the offer to make another appointment but I did feel that my self-diagnosis was correct even though it had cost me £40 to have it confirmed. Oh, and no to the gel, but yes to anti-inflammatory tablets and yes, support inserts can help some people (which sounded familiar) and your forty minutes is up so please don’t ask any more questions (I had a list of them).
Just so you don’t get the impression that this health blog is all bad news let me briefly tell you about my hospital appointment. By the way Mrs SH says I’ve written this before, if I have just put it down to encroaching senility. This for my annual eye test that goes along with my diabetes. I’ve been taking insulin for about three months now with no miraculous (as promised) improvement in the way I feel but, having waited two hours to see the specialist, sorry this is meant to be the positive bit, I was on the point of walking out, what would they tell me anyway I reasoned, same old, same old – yes, your eyes have deteriorated since last year, you need to get your diabetes under control. Blah blah. But, no, I was wrong. He said, your eyes have improved since last year and you can go back to your (much more civilised with no waiting time) local hospital. Yippee. Worth the wait and had I ‘stormed / slunk’ out I wouldn’t have heard these glad tidings. So there’s a moral here somewhere. Oh, and I’d been getting these little black, cloud things ‘before’ my eyes and Mrs SH said as it was an eye test and he was a specialist I should ask him about them. So I did and he said he thought something might have come away from something but he’d looked and something hadn’t come away from something and I was fine. Thank you.
So admittedly on the health front there’s quite a bit more in the negative column than the positive and it is all too easy to focus on the negative when we should be thanking our lucky stars we’re still around to have all these health problems. So this retired person, thanks his lucky stars.