Club Foot

There have been things that made me want to post. Wheel of Time show, for instance. I haven’t. It’s become not-a-habit, but I miss it of course. Writing is hard, or I’d have books published already, but this kind of writing is easy, except apparently the part where I have to try not to be reprehensible to people who matter to me.

So I was born with a club foot, and spent my first 14 months in casts. They had to be changed 1-2 times a week. Can you imagine? Apparently my father got his money’s worth, since the podiatrist was amazed at how it came out. Exceptional results. But he also said it’s “nothing short of a miracle” that I’ve been able to do the very physical job I’ve had more than 13 years. The foot is getting damaged every time I do what I do

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, even if while I am doing it there’s no pain. But I get ahead of myself. Seeing the podiatrist was a long time coming.

My right foot has bothered me excessively for some time. Not just in the longer term way I would drive home from work and then limp down the driveway, having been fine until I sat. That’s worse now, and more pointedly painful. Sometimes it hurts at work, but it’s more that working on it makes it respond worse after I stop. I tried a brace along the way, and that could make it worse. I tried different footwear and making sure the ones I wore weren’t too worn. That makes twice a year the minimum frequency for new shoes. I have to make sure the laces are tight at the top. I mitigated it some by getting mid-cut sneakers that are particularly sturdy. A brand that I’d never heard of that, I didn’t notice when I ordered, caters to diabetics. Not quite there yet, just flirting, enough to have made recent changes. I mitigated it a lot by getting new insoles by the famous brand, made for big heavy men to work on more comfortably.

Mitigating is all I can do, it turns out. It’s not one of those things there’s surgery for. Which, well, I don’t know how I feel about surgery that serious. Minor surgery on my neck to remove a cyst that refuses not to be infected? Sure, no problem. I can get custom orthotics if insurance covers it. Gotta remember to ask. I have the exact code and dx to give them when I ask. Footwear with a higher heel will help, less flat than things are normally made these days. And from my own experience, certain things at work are worse and require avoiding or extreme care. Box trucks, usually rentals, have much higher steps up and down from the dock and landing on the foot hard is bad. Standing in one place can be bad. Ironically, that was something I was doing on my otherwise easier days, doing QA work at a standing desk. Nothing is really going to solve doing athletic work for 6-8 hours a day, entirely on my feet, except no longer doing that kind of work.

From the club foot, the back of the foot is one giant bone spur. I have almost no range of motion. I can keep this as limber as possible through stretching, but it’s never going away. I also have osteoarthritis at the top of the foot. Normally if you have arthritis in a joint, you probably have it elsewhere, and I’d be surprised if I don’t. However, the nature and cause of this particular arthritis might mean that’s not the case. Which would be good, but I do live in this body. Not all of the pains are gout, which is well controlled, although now I’m at the highest dose of allopurinol, after years on the lowest dose.

I love my job. Usually. Complaining sometimes regularly notwithstanding. It’s something of a mystery why I’ve stayed in it. One super weird factor is because I can do it. The club foot contributed to my lack of athletic ability in my youth. For a while I could have my foot randomly twist out from under me and I’d go flying. That went away until recently, but it was never normal in function. My main problem was nerve damage from meningitis. Poor coordination sunk me. And even as recently as age 30 – OK, half a lifetime ago – when I had a job something like this, other people could move circles around me most of the time. At the time, it seems like a pretty fast, strenuous, physical job, but some of the people there wouldn’t know what hit them if they worked where I do now. I love that I am at least mostly capable of doing what they throw at me, and, as I always joke, that it keeps me in some kind of shape besides round.

My job will have to go. Not today. Maybe not even this year. But I’ll have to go back to a proverbial desk job. I’m not sure even some of the options where I work would be viable, though it might be worth finding out. I get a month of paid time off per year. That’s not going to happen at a new job! The insurance is good. They are large and stable. I generally love the people. I wouldn’t hesitate to hire most of them if they came looking for a job somewhere I had the say in that. The pay could be better, but as near as I can tell, it’s a good step up even to the more modest job upgrades.

Indeed, I was going to have to figure things out soon anyway. The kids are just over three years from all being out of high school. They’ll stop being factors in the government throwing refundable tax credits at us. They’ll drop off the wife’s disability. While at the same time being able to use any help we can offer for college. On some level, it’s bad that they are all college material. We have math/computer science/quantum computing, back to wanting to go to college in Germany because it’s free. Except living expenses, and having to show you have a nest egg of like $10k before being accepted. We have chemistry, most likely, following in the footsteps of the PhD cousin. Maybe geology. Almost as good in math but with less interest, though both compete on the math team against other schools. Basically some kind of science, all science rules. Then we have history, and teaching. Could do as well in math but may have had a teacher who instilled a hatred of it while we weren’t looking. A or A+ in everything without trying. But without the interest in the sciences and math that the other two have. We finagled the oldest into AP Calculus that’s for seniors-only, as a junior, which will probably lead to a change for others in the future. The oldest is also taking the AP Computer Science test without having taken the class, after getting 85 on the sample exam. We’re trying to get another AP CS class offered next year, after they left it off the schedule. Makes me feel deficient in the brain area. Heh.

I wouldn’t even have ended up in this job, or clung to it so tightly, with different circumstances. I went from doing IT mainly for lawyers to handling packages, with a “we’re not saying you’re too old but you’re too old” inability to get hired for a “real job” break, to slinging packages. Before that it was support for Microsoft. Last time I did any IT work that wasn’t a little web stuff, more writing marketing copy than technical, was 2014. That was a day or two of lead on a project with four of us upgrading software and migrating networks to bring together two companies that had merged. My oldest is far more current tech savvy than I am. Getting into something else? Not sure how that’ll happen. “Everyone is hiring” may apply more to different classes of jobs. If I was too old 14-15 years ago (and already a little behind because the only way to get my big client to upgrade was to leave them with someone who could sell them on it, so I’d been focused on old stuff, duct tape, and baling wire), now it’s absurd. I have basically 6 years and a month before I can retire without penalty. Another 3 before I can realistically think about it. Could be interesting…