The Walking the Wall appointment book, Tuesday, September 12
8:30 am: Brendan at the chiropractor
8:45 am: Emma at the chiropractor
10:10 am: Brendan on the magic bone machine
10:40 am: Brendan’s physio appointment
12:30 pm: Emma at the physio
3:30 pm: Brendan at the gait analyst
4:15 pm: Emma at the gait analyst
6:15 pm: Emma returns to gait analyst to get her custom orthotic
And you all thought we were lazing away our time at the beach. For shame.
Since Brendan’s broken foot forced us to return to Sydney, we’ve been doing everything we can to get back on the wall as soon as we can – visiting the doctor, gulping nutritional supplements, working out in the pool – but rehabbing’s a slow business.
Finally, after over five weeks of waiting and assessment, we are starting to see good progress and get some clarity on how long until we can resume. It looks as though we’ll be returning to China at the end of September, and we should be able to start hiking on the wall at a slow pace by mid-October. Woo-hoo!
As we’ve mentioned before, Brendan’s injury was a stress fracture to the third metatarsal of his right foot, the portion of the toe bone that extends through the foot proper. Stress fractures are repetitive stress injuries; that is, they are caused by things like walking 1000 kilometres over rough ground carrying 20 kilograms on your back.
Or, as Brendan’s foot doctor put it: Imagine your third metatarsal is a wire paper clip, and you bend the paper clip back and forth repeatedly, just as you bend the bones in your foot as you walk. First the wire becomes hot, then it develops little cracks in its structure, then it breaks in half. That’s a stress fracture!
For the most part, treatment for a stress fracture isn’t real high tech. As with most broken bones, the most important thing is to rest it and let your body do the work. There are a few little helpers that can be employed, though. You can wear a removable cast like the one in the picture below. You can gobble calcium and glucosamine tablets. You can do little exercises to strengthen your toes.
The removable Aircast: function meets fashion
Best of all, you can use the magic bone machine, also known as low-intensity ultrasound, to emit ultrasonic pulses that may stimulate bone growth. The actual efficacy of the thing is debated – its proponents claim a 50% reduction in healing times; others scoff. What is not debated is that we really want to get back to the wall ASAP, so we’ll try anything. Especially when it has a cool name like the magic bone machine.
Picture yourself on a wave of ultrasound
Not to be outdone, Emma has been getting treatment for a knee problem that was not severe enough to halt our progress, but was causing her pain. It turns out to be a good thing she looked into it.
Dr David Ferguson, at Advanced Gait Dynamics, analysed Emma’s stride and found that she suffers from over-pronation. Or, in English, her foot rolls inward as she walks. This causes the lower leg to turn inwards, which puts the knee and hip out of alignment and causes just the kind of pain she was feeling.
The sad result of all those nights in stilettos – a computer image of Emma’s foot
To date, the knee had just been a nagging annoyance, but according to Dr Ferguson it had the potential to flare up into a serious problem once we hit the wall’s steeper sections. Fortunately, pronation can be corrected by an orthotic device, in Emma’s case a specially made insert for her specially funky feet.
Not just a cosmetic procedure – Dr Ferguson uses lipstick to mark the problem areas on Emma’s feet