I went to the pilates class today, for the first time in three weeks. I didn't of course tackle any exercises that might put stress on my bad toe, but I managed most of them. Afterwards, we (that's myself and my local girl friends Jackie, Jo and Valerie) went to a newish cycling café for lunch and coffee, then we adjourned to my home, with Jo's elderly mum Joan as an extra guest. Neither Valerie nor Joan had been in my home before, and it was a pleasure to show it to both of them, though of course it's only a small bungalow with a bit of a garden front and rear. Valerie paints, and was very interested in the Jo Pryor pictures in my lounge.
It was a great cure for feeling down in the dumps. Thanks, everyone!
It also helped that walking around is suddenly easier. There's been significantly less toe pain in the last day or so, and although it still looks a bit puffy and a bit pink, it's lost the angry hot red look it's had for the last two weeks. This must be down to rest (and possibly the medication, at least the Ibuprofen) finally having some effect.
I haven't been short of medical advice. Three doctors have looked at my case in the last eleven days. The first one at Hassocks, and the last two at Ditchling. The latest consultation was only yesterday. After going down to Brighton for a hair appointment - and some shopping that I'll come to in a moment - I drove north to Ditchling, popping in at 2.00pm on the off-chance of having a quick word with a doctor. I was able to secure a proper appointment at 3.30pm. That's pretty good, I thought. Surely it's unusual to get seen on demand so quickly!
I should explain that Mid Sussex Health Care has three surgeries, two large ones at Hurstpierpoint and Hassocks, plus a little one at Ditchling. You can choose to see any on-duty doctor at any of these surgeries, although if not within walking distance you do need your own transport. The bus service between Hurstpierpoint and Hassocks is scarcely to town standards - only hourly. And it's almost non-existent between Hassocks and Ditchling. But that's the norm in the sticks. Suffice it to say that although all three surgeries are linked by computer, the Ditchling surgery functions in a somewhat detached way, and has a more intimate, villagey feel to it. I like that.
The set-up at Ditchling consists of three youngish lady doctors, all part-time. I've been working my way through them, having seen one earlier this week, and now another yesterday! Both have been notably pleasant and knowledgeable. And I've made friends with the receptionist too. I can see myself going to the Ditchling surgery more often in the future - especially as my impression is that it's under slightly less pressure than the two larger surgeries, and so making appointments at short notice is easier.
Well, the latest 'best diagnosis' - learned yesterday - is that I may indeed have been experiencing a touch of arthritis in that toe. I'm booked in for blood tests in four day's time, to find out what's really up with me: infection, gout, arthritis, or possibly something else.
The infection diagnosis looks less plausible now because the anti-biotic tablets, normally fast-acting, have not had the effect anticipated. As for gout, the swelling and pain is clearly around the toe joints, but it isn't nearly severe enough for gout, nor is it affecting the 'usual' toe (gout is generally associated with the big toe).
So I'm expecting the tentative best diagnosis, arthritis, to be correct. This wouldn't be good news for the long term, even if the condition isn't chronic at the moment. We'll have to see.
One thing is perfectly clear: I must avoid unsuitable footwear. Kati, commenting on one of my recent posts (Corns, on 11th February), advised me to wear trainers if pounding the city streets for any distance, changing into fashion footwear at the destination, and I feel that this is a very sensible suggestion. Last year I discovered Skechers shoes. The pair I bought in Stonehaven last June were supremely comfortable, even if they didn't last long (they got wet, and turned moudly and smelly, and in the end I had to junk them). Yesterday I decided to reinvest in another pair. I bought them from Jones in The Lanes at Brighton. They are smarter than last year's shoes:
Last year's cost £60. This year's cost £57. They are very lightweight, they fit well, and feel very nice to wear - even if you have a tender toe. Shoes like this ought to be kinder to my feet, if I've got some real walking to do. I'll just make sure I don't get them wet!