The 1 percent: misdiagnosis

It’s taken me a long time to process this situation, a lot longer than usual because I am still trying to wrap my brain around the wasted. 7ish weeks in the boot and 9 days on crutches, only to find out, both were completely unnecessary, and in fact caused complications.

If I would have written this post days after finding this out, it would have went something like this: I want to chuck my falsely prescribed boot at the knucklehead podiatrist and poke him in the gut with the falsely prescribed crutches. But then again that would be premeditated assault (which I would never actually do) but that didn’t stop me from have a strong desire to.

There should be some kind of exception to the law when broken runners go crazy after being misdiagnosed, am I right?

I was so infuriated for days that I couldn’t even be happy about my new (less severe) diagnosis. And that’s okay, I have to allow myself to be an angry elf before I can move forward and choose to be happy.

/</<Okay end of SCB rant/>/>

Today is a new day. <- I hope you read that in the Chicken Little voice.


Under the advice of Mike and my primary doctor, I got a third opinion last week. But let me back up to the beginning before I get into that.

In April I started feeling a pain in the ball of my right foot,that came and went while both running and walking. Though I didn’t blog about it at the time, the day Lu + I went to climb rocks is the first time I remember the intense pain.

I just thought it was plantar fasciitis since I’ve dealt with that for a long time now. But a couple weeks later, it started to swell and I had a sharp pain lifting my big toe. I knew it was something more serious so I went to my first podiatrist. He is known to be the best around Monterey. Not in my opinion, but according to everyone I’ve talked to about him said that. I am not exaggerating. Everyone.

The conversation usually goes something like this: you’re are seeing Dr. Knucklehead?

Me: yeah.

Them: he’s the best.

I explained the pain I was having and that I wasn’t able to walk without limping, he took an X-Ray and told me it was a sesamoid stress fracture and sesamoiditis. Without doing a physical exam, I walked out with a new accessory for 3-6 weeks and was ordered not to work for at least 3 weeks.

2014-05-09 10.09.23

I asked him if there was anything else it could possibly be and he replied, “no that’s the only thing there, it’s the only thing it could be.”

He would be on vacation but said a fill in podiatrist would be calling me to set up a 3 week follow up. Which never happened.

So I wore the boot + compression socks as prescribed, and tried my best to stay off of it.

My foot continued to stay the same, swelling with multi shades of red and purple, tingling in my big toe. If tie-dye were in, my paw would have SO been in style.

2014-06-07 10.09.37

After Dr.Knucklehead came back from vacation and failed to respond to two of my phone calls, I saw my primary doctor whom I absolutely adore. He disagreed with Dr. Knukleheads diagnosis and encouraged me to get a 3rd opinion. So I said find me a new podiatrist and he did.

In the meantime, at week 5.5 I finally got into see Dr. Knucklehead for a follow up.

I explained things were the same-no better, no worse. He assured me this was typical for the injury I have and that I really need to stay off of it.

This didn’t sit well for myself or Mike (who was with me) so I asked for an MRI. Thankfully he agreed.

I got an MRI on the following Monday and within 3 hours Knucklehead called telling me things were worse than he thought. I went from a stress fracture to a complete fracture with sesamoiditis and he was afraid the bone would actually die if I didn’t stay off it. His advice: I need to be off my foot and on crutches for 3 weeks.

The Type A in me has to have specific instructions, so I asked if I could take a shower, etc. He replied “do you need a dictionary? You need to be 100% off it.” I didn’t tell Mike about that comment until this morning for Dr. Knuckleheads protection. Winking smile

I was terrified, so I did everything I could think of to stay off my paw. I hopped around, I rolled around the house in my rolley polley chair. We hired a house cleaner, Mike + Lu helped around the house while I protected that paw with every ounce of my being.

I want everybody to understand, Dr. Knucklehead made his diagnosis and never touched my foot.  He just looked at my foot, but never felt the tendons, bones, joints etc. He took an X-Ray, nothing showed up so he assumed it was a stress fracture. I had to push for the MRI or that would have never been ordered.

2014-06-24 12.27.17

9 days completely off of it, still feeling the same-no better, no worse I finally got into see podiatrist #2, Dr. Wonderful on week 8.

Being the Type A, not going to lay down for anyone bitch that I am, I had my MRI results sent to him, took my copy of the MRI images and hobbled my crippled, happy butt to his office.

This experience was a complete 180.

Before I told him what my original diagnosis was, I asked him to diagnose me. I wanted a completely honest, undiluted opinion.

After a bunch of questions, a thorough physical exam, another round of X-Rays, pressing really hard on both sesamoid bones, I felt NO PAIN. In fact the blood circulation was so poor because I was staying off of it, the more he pressed on it, the better it felt.

However the ball of my foot around toes 2 & 3 was painful and swollen.

Dr. Wonderful said, “go burn your crutches, you don’t need them.”

Dr. Wonderful explained I have sesamoitits and tendonitis. Yeah that’s it.  But, when Dr. Knucklehead told me to stay off of it 100% I was doing more damage.  It had turned into a circulatory issue. The major swelling and less than fashionable shades of red + purple is a sign that I have poor blood circulation in my foot. He asked if we’ve heard of the saying “use it or loose it” and said this picture below is showing signs of a circulatory issue.

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I pulled out this before & after pool running picture, and the doctor took my phone to show his office staff because the difference was so dramatic. I mean the man took the phone out of my hand and showed this picture to all the other doctors, nurses, strangers in the hall. He was amazed.

There is NO sign of a stress fractured sesamoid, NO sign of there ever being one and most definitely not a clean break.

Dr. Wonderful said to walk, yeah you know, put my foot on the ground, put weight on it, step and repeat.  He also sent me to physical therapy.

I told my PT guru’s Dr. Wonderfuls diagnosis, they looked at me and said, “wow, that’s an entirely different treatment.” Then said come back in an hour, we’ll get you right in.

They worked on my foot for almost 2 hours to get me walking again. Yes, 2 freaking hours the day before a holiday weekend. No words can explain how much that meant to me.

This was taken yesterday with two feet on the ground, walking.

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I’m going to break into a run soon, like this guy.

Maci Arms TCF 312  Midterm Blog Post   Run Forrest Run   Scene Analysis

Turns out now that I’m walking on it, I am feeling so much better. I still have pain, my body mechanics are way off, but the swelling is almost completely gone and the tingling in my toe is completely gone. I have a lot of PT ahead, but I am freaking walking. And you know what?

I will run again!


38 Comments on “The 1 percent: misdiagnosis

  1. Oh my gosh I am so mad for you! I am glad you are doing and feeling better. Stories like this always concern me when I have my own issue and the doctor says crazy things. Its almost like you always need several opinions these days!

  2. Yay Jacqueline! So glad you will be back in action before you know it! Damn Dr. Knucklehead. This proves you have to be your own best advocate in order to get the best care possible. Happy healing!

  3. I’m giving you a standing ovation right now J! Sorry you had to go through that ish. Time to move on and forward. Still throwing prayers your way that we can say good riddance to this mess. Stay blessed stay fierce!

  4. HOLY F! That’s so crazy. And yes, tendonitis DOES need blood flow. Oye Veh! i’m so sorry that you had to stay off of it for so long unneccessarily AND cause more issues because of it. Good thing is that PT will really help! I just spent the last 8 weeks dealing with ankle tendonitis. PT has helped so much. HEAT has helped so much too!!!! I’m back to running VERY slowly but my ankle doesn’t feel weak anymore. I know i need to work on strengthening and balance still. Anyway, really glad that you’re back to walking. Just an FYI though I’m told that tendons are slower to heal than broken bones. So don’t over do it. But yes, use it or lose it.

  5. That is so crazy BUT at the same time I am so happy for you that you are on your way back to recovery!!

  6. What a disaster with Dr. Knucklehead! Frustrating that you had to go through that experience, but glad to hear that you’re on a faster (and smarter) road to recovery. And you’re right – you’ll be running down that recovery road in no time!! 🙂

  7. Reading that gave me goosebumps, no lie. This is the craziest misdiagnosis story I have ever heard before!
    I’m so glad for you that you figured out
    what is wrong with your foot and are starting to heal!!!

  8. I have goosebumps for you girl….that is wonderful news!!! Stupid Mr.Knucklehead…I wouldn’t have been so nice about it…I would have marched into his office…said “You SUCK!” and stuck my tongue out at him. Yup…super mature….I know!!! Will you continue pool running now???

    • Ha you are so funny! I had to tone this post wayyyy down which is why it took me so long to write it.
      Yes, pool running is on! I LOVE it.

  9. This is very disturbing. Personally, from your description of his first consultation, I would have been skeptic of Dr. Knucklehead from the get-go. He should be reported to his progressional college. What were his credentials like? Did you get a 6th sense from being in his office?

    • I was skeptical from the beginning, but because he was highly recommended by everyone, literally no joke, I decided to give him a try. After he refused to return my calls it was time to fire him and move on. SO happy I did.

  10. Whoa! Night and day diagnoses!
    Glad you will be running again, soon. Now you have quite the story to tell when others go through the same thing… always good to get another opinion 🙂

  11. I can’t believe the doc never did a physical assessment on you. What a whacko. So glad you are appropriately diagnosed now and feeling so much better! You WILL be running again soon!

  12. See had we had a real virtual cocktail date we may have gotten into trouble, lol. None the less I’m glad your walking again! Welcome back doll

  13. I’am seriously so fr***** happy for you! You will be running in no time! 🙂

  14. Hey there! I don’t usually comment, but because the sensations you’ve had in your foot are so similar to what I experienced I am compelled to speak up! I had the same things going on with my toe tingling and with the stabbing feeling you talked about it. I have to tell you that it popped up when I was wearing the Mizuno Waverider’s. I had been running consistently at this point for 5 years without this problem while wearing Brooks. I know you are wearing a different shoe style, but I felt the narrow fit of the shoe along with the outsole which is one long piece opposed to other “separated” type outsoles- restricted the ball of my foot enough to cause serious damage. Once I stopped wearing them my foot healed, but it took time. Anyway, good luck!

    • I’m so happy to hear you are feeling better! I’ve been wearing Mizunos for over 5 years now and have never had a problem. I had Dr.Wonderful look at my Wave Riders and he gave them 2 thumbs up. This is an overuse injury.

  15. That is nuts! So glad to hear you took it upon yourself to press for the right answer. Sending more healing thoughts your way!

  16. I’m so happy for you that you finally got a correct diagnosis. I had almost the exact same problem…bad diagnosis from a quack podiatrist. Ended up getting MRI too which explained a lot more and also showed his incorrect assumption. He even tried to hide the fact that he was wrong! I finally saw an orthopedic doctor and he was amazing! Doing PT now, no boot and can’t wait to run again! I have tendenosis….not a stress fracture.

    • That’s crazy. I’m so happy you got another opinion. I think we’ve both had similar injures with the same treatment for the same time now. Gahh, here’s to recovery!

  17. Was having a really crappy run last night – wasn’t into it, running slow with fruit juice swishing around my tummy and mentally ready to stop! Then thought of your blog and that you hadn’t been able to run for an age and about all the peeps who want to run and can’t so lifted my head, picked up the pace and completed an extra few miles! Was it a PB NO but was thankful that I was ABLE to do it, heck YES:)

    Congratulations on a positive diagnosis, hope you get out running soon:)

  18. I’m finally catching up on this today. How frustrating for you, but so so good you can walk again! When I was thinking of getting work done on my feet (fir bunions and walking on my instep), a doctor friend really encouraged me to meet with a few different podiatrists. He said feet are something you don’t want to mess with and you need to educate yourself before having something major done. It’s crazy what a world of difference there is between doctors. Scary too that I could’ve unknowingly destroyed my feet if I didn’t have doctor friends to advise me.

    Anyway, I’m happy for you that it’s a much less serious diagnosis. Did you call Dr Knucklehead to inform him?

  19. Holy whoa. How incredibly infuriating and frustrating. 7 weeks is a freaking long time for misdiagnosis. That and his lack of service (returning your calls, getting in touch with you etc) is complete bullshit. What’s this fool’s name? Just so I know my family doesn’t go to his damn office if they have feet issues.

    I’m glad you went to another doctor who actually handled your foot and took the time and effort to determine your ailment. So glad it’s not as bad as the first ‘diagnosis’ and that your are now on the mend. Get that blood pumping, lady! You’ll be back running them coastal paths soon.

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