Day 116-120: Getting My Foot Cut Open (Literally)

Zeros in Ohio

(Read the last two posts to understand how I got to here)

I was really really upset that I needed to come home. Leaving the trail when I was so close to the end wasn’t easy at all. How could I make it this far and not finish? It seemed like a cruel joke that I would walk 1600 miles and miss the part of the trail I’ve been looking forward to the most. Honestly, I had this thought about the last three states being one of the worst places to get off before I even started the trail. I considered going southbound for a brief amount of time just so I would be guaranteed to see Maine (Katahdin) and the White Mountains in New Hampshire. The reason I decided to do a Northbound is because I’ve never been North of New York and I wanted to make myself earn Katahdin and Maine big time.

So after a day of traveling home, I had an appointment scheduled for Monday with my foot doctor I had seen earlier on the trail who treated me for plantar fasciitis. By Saturday my foot was not looking the slightest bit better. After seeking advice on the Women’s AT group on Facebook and becoming more and more concerned about a bad infection, I went to Urgent Care first thing on Saturday morning to have a doctor look at it in person. At urgent care the doctor assured me that it was not an infection, but I should still finish the antibiotic I was recently prescribed. He took an X-ray and told me I had sesamoidiitis and prescribed me a steroid. Great. Another inflammatory condition caused by chronic overuse. Yet I was relieved the images of me having to get part of my foot cut off were gone. At home I did some research on sesamoidiitis and was feeling really depressed to find out it is an injury that can take 4 months to a year to completely heal and most people can’t bear weight on their foot for a month. How on earth would I ever get better in time to make it! All I could hope is that I would be an exception but my symptoms were not getting any better. That night the inflammation in my foot peaked. The throbbing, tenderness, and warmth did not go away. The inflamed area got so bad I thought that it was somehow leaking through my pores. In retrospect I think the temperature of my foot was getting so hot from infection that it was sweating. In the morning it looked like my foot was discolored from becoming so inflamed. I thought it was bruised from the tough callused skin being pushed to its absolute limit. However, it seemed for the first time in 5 days that my foot was getting better. I still couldn’t bare weight but I could at least gently touch the ground and fit it inside a shoe without feeling like I needed to scream. I was glad to see some sort of progress but now that I wasn’t worried about getting my foot cut, I kind of wish I had an infection that might heal a little faster than sesamoidiitis would.

On Monday, I was glad to see the foot doctor (Dr. Fox). I thought he was a good doctor the last time I saw him and he really understood how and what he could do to help me manage my plantar fasciitis so I could continue putting my feet through hell to meet my goal. As soon as Dr. Fox saw my foot and I explained to him what was happening he knew it was infected. He numbed my foot first with a sort of cold spray and then a needle. I had to have his medical assistant hold my leg down because it hurt so bad for him to touch my foot. After letting the numbing agent take effect he walked back in the room with a scalpel. I immediately flinched upon seeing it. Although I couldn’t feel anything, the pain of the last few days made me so anxious about anyone touching my foot in a serious manner. I got my hard earned callus cut off and then I got my foot cut open. I was in shock at what was happening. Dr. Fox started squeezing out brown pus. He kept squeezing my foot until nothing expect blood was coming out of the area. He cleaned it up and then packed it like I had watched so many wounds be packed at the hospital when I used to work there. I couldn’t believe this was actually happening to my foot. My most valuable asset! I was prescribed a much stronger antibiotic to begin taking immediately and advised to discontinue my other medications. We made an appointment for me to see him again in two days when he will take out the packing and examine my foot to determine if it is getting better or not. Apparently this is going to hurt worse than everything I had already been through in his office would. I got to take a look at my foot after he drained everything out and before he packed the small wound but there was so much blood I couldn’t tell exactly how much he cut away. I was told that if I get a fever or chills I need to go to the hospital immediately and if things don’t start looking better there is potential that he will have to take me into surgery to cut away more of my foot to get rid of the infection. I limped out of the office with my foot all wrapped up in bandages dreading the hour that the numbing agent would wear off. Although it seems a bit scary, I’m hopeful that I will be healthy enough to fight off the infection and heal the wound quickly enough to hit the trail in 2-3 weeks. Dr. Fox left me feeling more hopeful about my feet than having sesamoidiitis did. I still can’t believe that I had to get my foot cut open.

As far as being home and away from the trail goes, I’m going a little bit crazy. I can’t walk or really exercise, I can’t drive myself anywhere because my right foot is way too tender to hit the break if I needed to, and I’m lacking 10+ hours of sunlight that I’m used to. I miss my friends and freedom of being on my own. I miss having a significant purpose to my day (getting to Katahdin). I’ve thought about how I will be finishing the trail if I can walk in time before the weather gets bad. I still haven’t made a final decision but my options are

  1. Start where I left off and make it safely through the White Mountains/ Presidentials but risk a dangerous summit of Katahdin or the mountain being completely closed.
  2. Start at Katahdin but risk facing extreme weather in the Whites.
  3. Skip Vermont, start in NH, decrease my chances of risky weather in the Whites and at Katahdin, but face a logistical challenge of finishing up the Vermont section upon completing Katahdin.

Anyways, I’ll make that decision when I find out if I have a decision to make. In the mean time, I still won’t be moving much and prayers would be very much appreciated!

Happy Trails!

2 thoughts on “Day 116-120: Getting My Foot Cut Open (Literally)

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