I swallow two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. My daily ritual inspired by the stern puritan couple on the front of the Bragg’s Vinegar label. I sense they know what is right. I hope for a miracle because the two little bones in both my feet, my metatarsals, yell, “fix us!”
Those two tiny bones sucker punch me when I walk. Oh, the pain! My neighbor witnessed my suffering. “Go to Greg Shea at the River Valley Club,” she says. “He can help you. He rescued me.”
At my first appointment in February, Greg gently touches my right foot. I glare at him. He turns to the next foot. I move it back in fear. Greg puts a compression boot on my left foot and a brace on my right. His instructions are firm, “Walk less and head to the warm pool. Write the alphabet with your feet. Scissor-kick and lightly run without touching the bottom of the pool. No more than 20 minutes at a time.”
I tough out the long winter, limping over sheets of ice and through freezing snow. The warm pool embraces me while I do my remedial exercises. Suspended, treading water, my body relaxes, and blood begins to flow to my feet. At follow-up appointments, Greg pulls a smooth half-moon metal tool over my left foot, moving blood to the inflammation. He wraps bands around my other foot with scientific precision. He administers dry needling and massage to help my feet heal.
Outside his office, I continue to drink Bragg’s apple cider vinegar. I follow Greg’s advice to exercise with elastic bands and a rubber ball, exercises intended to massage and strengthen. I wear compression socks, different shoes, and braces from CVS. I slather on pots of creams. May 15, I am out of my boot, “Slow and steady,” Greg says as I wiggle my toes and flex my foot. The next day, I run. I hop and jump to prove to myself I am healed. My joyous rebellion ends abruptly. “Okay,” I confess, hobbling back into Greg’s office., “I overdid everything, and my feet are swelling.”
Greg, kindly asks me to walk for him. He watches with hawk eyes. “Janna, you are dragging your right foot.” He teaches me new exercises, with more bands, balancing on one foot, rolling on a lacrosse ball and doing the amended bridge, a lifetime exercise. “This will strengthen your core,” he says. The session leaves me nauseous, but I promise Greg and myself that I will be a rigorous and obedient patient.
In my progress, my hip starts to hurt. Greg does dry needling on the hot spot. He recommends new trainers, a hybrid between a hiking shoe and sneaker. In my new shoes, I walk the dog backward uphill and down. I buy more bands and use them at work while I write or sit. I do my exercises religiously. I build strength. I swig my apple cider vinegar as one would knock back a whiskey.
Now I am pain-free, but I am not the same person I was before I had physical therapy. I have the heart and soul of an athlete, but I am aging and stubborn. My head of white hair contrasts sharply with my new walk; I prance like a filly. Greg Shea, with his ability to see the injury and the whole person, helped my feet heal and performed a miracle, though maybe with a little help from the Braggs.
RVC Member since 2015