What I’ve learned as a patient is mostly simple practical things that make more of a difference for my patients than some of the academics I learned in school.
Some years ago we were vacationing in South Padre at a rented condo and our children were little. My oldest daughter who has a rather unusual name, thought she heard her name on TV and gave one of those little girl shrieks that evolution has provided them to immediately get your attention. Well I was so startled by this shriek I immediately turned and ran toward my daughter and caught my great toe on the shag carpet. Can you believe that – shag carpet? Well I did a good job on my toe — I fractured it and literally saw stars. At least I found out why they show stars around the head of cartoon characters when they get hurt!
As a medical professional who deals with feet and ankles I thought I had the situation under control. We taped up my toe to immobilize it and since we could not get a surgical shoe I would just walk very carefully in my regular shoe making sure not to bend my toes. The next day we went to the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, TX and we did a lot of walking. What I learned was that as much as we try to remember to walk a certain way it is almost impossible to do that all the time. Our minds are just not made that way. When you walk you don’t think about walking and even though you are trying not to bend your toes sometimes you forget and bend them. You see a surgical shoe does not allow you to bend your toes while normal shoes do allow your toes to bend. Well of course my shoe did bend and every time I forgot to hold my foot straight, my toe bent and I saw those stars again. Moral of the story is that there is no substitute for a surgical shoe. When you need one get one, because it is impossible to just pretend and walk that way for any length of time. The second lesson I learned from this personal experience was when I got home and put on a surgical shoe. The surgical shoe was very uncomfortable to walk in. I made several modifications to the surgical shoe so it was a lot more comfortable. To this day every surgical shoe I fit for my patients I modify for their foot. My patients tell me how much more comfortable the surgical shoe is after the modification. I appreciate that because it means that my injury has helped others. That’s something to feel good about!