Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hear that lonesome whippoorwill, he sounds too blue to fly

I have had a pretty rough couple of weeks, as my plantar fasciitis reminds me that my feet are indeed the boss. When you work on your feet, you need them, and they won't be ignored.

And now, primarily for this reason, I have decided to undertake some serious weight loss. It simply can't be good to have extra weight, any extra weight, on my screaming painful footsies. (At least it might help the situation to take the proverbial load off.)

According to Wikipedia:

It has been reported plantar fasciitis occurs in two million Americans a year and 10% of the population over a lifetime. It is commonly associated with long periods of work-related weight bearing. Among non-athletic populations, it is associated with a high body mass index.
Yes, I think we know what "high body mass index" means.
The pain is usually felt on the underside of the heel and is often most intense with the first steps of the day.
This is an understatement.

Working in a store with a fabulous organic menu, I am terribly spoiled. I eat very well, although admittedly, I eat too much. As I've stated here before, I love real cream in my coffee, exotic cheeses, fancy imported organic junk--I get a discount! I also know when all the sales are... combined with my discount, I can often get expensive and scrumptious healthy foods for nearly half-price. I'm afraid I have taken full advantage of this.

I am living proof you can get fat eating nothing but healthy, vegetarian foods. Especially if we are counting cheese. (Is there any consensus concerning whether ice cream is healthy? It probably isn't.) If I had stayed very active, I probably could have handled the extra calories easily, but because I've worked on my feet, I have wanted to conserve them and not place any additional stress on my lower appendages. So I haven't.

This translates into coming home and sitting in front of the computer while nibbling exotic cheeses.

I had varicose veins zapped by a laser in 2006, since thrombosis runs in my family and several were getting alarmingly large and nearly-bulbous. The horrendous frozen-shoulder episode was in late 2004. It seemed I could barely function during these medicalized interludes, and stopped getting a lot of exercise. During the 90s, lemme tellya, I was Miss Thing, and you should have seen my fabulous calves. I could climb mountains. (((sigh)))

I realize that health-chronicles are boring, and I apologize for providing this one. But when several commenters in this thread seemed to think I was able bodied, I looked up from massaging my sick plantar fascia to laugh heartily at the very idea. Perhaps I would not be considered disabled, but able-bodied? No.

I think the two discrete categories (disabled/able-bodied) are a fiction. Physicality is a continuum... on one end, 'perfect' health (usually exemplified by youth), and on the other end, illness and debility (usually exemplified by old age). But it's very interesting to me that the people on the robust end of the spectrum are statistically most likely to engage in the risky behavior and sports that could leave them disabled. The healthier you are, the more likely you are to BE ABLE to do the things that can harm your body. (e.g.: I was far more likely to hurt myself climbing mountains than I am now, sitting in front of the computer eating cheese.)


In a comment on the post linked above, one commenter (Avalon) was critical because I have blogged about alcoholism, asserting that it is not the same as blogging about disability. (Admittedly, I had believed that it was in the same general neighborhood, at least.)

As I stated in that thread, a friend of mine once filed an EEOC complaint, claiming he was treated differently on his job after going through detox. He was allowed to file the complaint, and the EEOC regarded this as a case of possible disability-discrimination. So, I believed that alcoholism was regarded as a disability. Also, it is specifically mentioned in the Americans with Disabilities Act, although rather garbled and unclear.

Thus, I began a long post titled "Is alcoholism/addiction a disability?" ... and then decided to chuck it. Impossible to find consensus. (I honestly have no idea if it is, and now that I have begun to do some research, more confused that ever.)

The "alcoholism as illness/helpless victim of dipsomania" narrative and the "alcoholism is the result of weak-willed assholism" narrative, are at odds in the medical community (and everywhere else). In short, you can't find straight answers; to 'prove' alcoholism is a disease, one must somehow 'prove' that it is hereditary or genetic. The only way to prove such a thing would be to find the adopted alcoholics from non-alcoholic families.

From the book Buzzed: The Straight Facts About the Most Used and Abused Drugs from Alcohol to Ecstasy (by Cynthia Kuhn, Scott Swartzwelder, Leigh Heather Wilson):
Much of the evidence that genetic factors may lead to alcohol dependence has come from studies on twins and children of alcoholics who were adopted at birth and raised by nonalcoholic adoptive parents. Studies like these allow researchers to begin to tease apart the special influences of nature and nurture in the development of alcohol addiction. At present it seems clear that the basis of alcoholism is partly genetic, but the genetic factors alone cannot account for the development of the disease. The real value of the nature versus nurture studies so far is that they have identified certain traits, or markers, that run in families and predispose people to alcoholic dependence. Thus, they help to identify individuals who may be at risk for developing alcohol problems.
Markers? Traits? Like those pesky traits I've talked about before, that I share with Mel Gibson?

On the flip side, we have the school of thought that believes alcoholism is just the result of being... well, BAD. (They use a variety of euphemisms for BAD, but there is no mistaking that they mean BAD.) And although I am also skeptical regarding the disease theory, there is no reason to say ridiculous things to back up your arguments. For example, from the authoritatively-named website titled Alcoholism is not a disease, I find these strange paragraphs:
Looking at the situation objectively, if alcoholism is passed through genes, the abnormality must be relatively new. As stated previously, alcoholism did not exist in the early colonization of America. In fact, it did not exist until the late 1700’s.

Some would argue that the residents of the United States are largely immigrants and as a result the alcoholism gene was introduced later in history. Meaning, the “new” citizens are not of the same family tree as those of the 1700’s.

But, its important to point out, many cultures outside of the United States do not even know what alcoholism is; they do not have a word for it. People with different cultural backgrounds do not have different genetic make-ups.

Um, what?

Has no one heard of hard-partying Falstaff? Restoration comedy, renaissance literature...endless Shakespearean comic set-pieces concerning habitual drunkenness and the consistent buffoonery that results from it? "Otis the town drunk" was not a new invention, you know.

The Bible issues several very blatant condemnations of drunkenness, and drunkards in particular. The Apostle Paul was very clear on that, and many Protestant denominations still teach that ALL alcohol consumption is wrong:
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one know not to eat.

1st Corinthians 5:11
Note the noun: drunkard. This would suggest a chronic state of affairs, rather than a few parties here and there.

If there were no alcoholics before the 1700s, how does one account for that?

And so... apologies for not being able to come down on one side or the other. Color me confused.


Believe it or not (speaking of alcoholism), he was only 29 years old when he died. And he looked so much older.

I'm so lonesome I could cry - Hank Williams (1951)


white rabbit said...

I read it as 'plantar fascistitis'at first.

Which sounds even worse....

Go Daisy! All will be well :D

white rabbit said...

ps - On your new profile pic you seem to have grown a pair of horns. This is not good. Seek medical advice.


wv: masture

Rachel said...

Just because "some cultures don't have a word for it," doesn't mean they aren't affected by it, and their citizens don't suffer from it; just means they approach knowledge of it in a different way. Other than that, I can make no sense out of those paragraphs. They do seem to have a very Eurocentric, racist quality to them; and I'd be able to explain that better if I knew for sure what they were trying to say...

SnowdropExplodes said...

"they do not have a word for it."

The English didn't have a word for pornography until the 19th Century, but there was plenty of it about long before then!

And we can trace the biblical references to alcohol excess back into Genesis too.

Or, for the scientifically-minded, it's well known that chimps and great apes will deliberately seek out fallen fruit that has started to ferment, because the alcohol buzz it gives them, meaning potentially that alcoholism predates the existence of the human race.

My personal feeling is that some people do have an innate tendency towards chemical addiction (of which alcoholism is but one form) but it's a combination of nature and nurture that produces an alcoholic person. Either/or doesn't work for me.

I like the "continuum of ability" idea you mention, I think it's very good. After all, I think everyone experiences different levels of ability over a period of time (for instance, I go from virtually crippled by gout to carrying heavy loads, and that can change from one to the other and back in a matter of days). And, like the term some people use points out, we are all only "temporarily abled" anyway.

YogaforCynics said...

It's true that different societies (as well as different communities within societies) have different attitudes toward alcohol, and, because of that, different opinions about when drinking becomes a "problem"--thus, who periodically drinks to excess might be viewed as a problem drinker within more abstemious circles in the U.S. (which would include both religious conservatives on the right, and ultra-healthy granola types on the left), but unusually abstemious in other settings. Whereas, among America's early colonial settlers, at least those on the eastern seaboard, drinking to excess, or drinking at all, was considered a sin, not a disease.

The author of that passage seems to be an academic who takes ideas from critical theory about reality being constructed through discourse (i.e. no alcoholism if there's no word for it) a bit too seriously.

Meowser said...

I have a question.

If "serious weight loss" involves a shitload of daily exercising, at least an hour a day or more (and typically it does, unless you're on a ketogenic diet, which you can't be if you're vegetarian), how is that not going to be hard on your feet (and everything else)? I don't know about you, but I'm not capable of staying in a pool for two hours a day. And then there's the matter of your metabolism adjusting to the decreased intake and/or increased output (i.e. plateaus), necessitating that you eat even less and work out even harder just to maintain the loss.

I had PF once too. My doctor read me the riot act not over my weight, but over the shoes I had on. He told me I had to have shoes with deep heel cups and/or high arch supports, or I was looking at surgery. He did NOT tell me to go on a diet (see above). Those shoes are bloody expensive, but they last.

Of course, I didn't and don't have a job where I have to stand all day; that, I would think, would be difficult for anyone over 40, no matter what they weighed. (If it's not your feet, it's your back; all the thin people in my family have chronic back problems.) It seems to me that the law should accommodate someone with your condition, i.e. give you something to sit on or prop your foot on. They can't possibly think everything in their store can cure repetitive stress injury.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Meowser, when I eat the way I am supposed to, at least 50% raw foods, I lose weight quite easily. However, surrounded by pumpkin cheesecakes I don't do so well. It's my own choices that I have to blame.

I could eat rings around you, I'm sure. ;)

Rootietoot said...

I have PF, too. I noticed a remarkable decrease in pain after losing only 10 pounds (40 more to go!). Now, instead of all day, it's just those initial steps in the morning. Best wishes!

Rachel said...

"Or, for the scientifically-minded, it's well known that chimps and great apes will deliberately seek out fallen fruit that has started to ferment, because the alcohol buzz it gives them, meaning potentially that alcoholism predates the existence of the human race."

Snowdrop, I saw a documentary on the telly, and um...I forget where it was, but there is a resort in South America where these monkeys that live a nearby jungle will sneak onto the beach where the tourists are sunbathing and sneak gulps of their alcoholic drinks; after a bit of observing them, the scientists saw that some of the monkeys developed a real problem with alcohol, some could take or leave it, and some avoided it, and roughly in the same percentages as the human population. Then they went on to talk about how big cats will seek out hallucinogenic plants because it sharpens their senses and makes them better hunters.

Mike W. said...

I had plantar fascitis back when I ran cross country. Hurt like a bitch and it really only went away with rest.

genderbitch said...

PF definitely sounds like a disability to me.

I've got no clue on addiction though. That one is one that's just really really confusingly close.

Cassandra Says said...

My ex has PF, and he's really skinny. I'm thinking that pretty much anyone who's on their feet all day is at risk, and they just threw in some bonus fat hatred in an attempt to find something to blame.

For what it's worth, when I was a psych student they taught us that alcoholism has a pretty strong genetic component, ie some people are just more susceptible than others. I'm pretty sure this applies to chemical addiction in general. I do wonder how much of the moralising about addiction is the result of people who just don't have the wiring for addiction (and I am one) just not understanding that for some people it's not as easy to just stop using whatever chemical as it is for others. Example - I had no problem at all quitting smoking, but I've witnessed that process be excruciating for other people.

(I, like you, would find it very hard to say no to fancy cheese and pumpkin cheescake, though. Is it possible to be addicted to really good food? I find it a lot harder to give up chocolate than I did to quit smoking.)

High Arch Supports said...

Plantar Fasciitis is most common in middle-aged people but It can also occurs in teens who are on their feet a lot. It can happen in one foot or both feet. People with Plantar Fasciitis should not wear fitted shoes. They should do exercise that stretch the calf muscles.

Patrick Greer said...

Daisy, you have highlighted the points very clearly. Yes, plantar fasciitis is really a great trouble for us! I have felt the pain before. Then, consult with a doctor in order to get same good way to recovery. He suggests me a good pair of shoe for plantar fasciitis pain and now I have no pain! Carry on Daisy for updating foot pain related problems because this helps us to know more!

Lori Garcia said...

I thought you are going to write about plantar fascistic pain. But you bring something else. That’s really impressive. Go for it if this is good for you!