I may not get this story perfectly correct, but I contend that even a gist of this tale is sufficient to warrant publication. The reader can be the judge.
I have a good friend – at least I had a good friend up through the writing of this column – who can best be described as a “worrier.” He’s as true and faithful a friend as a man could ever want, but he is without question the kind of guy whose total sick days from work will always rival his vacation days on an annual basis. I think he would admit that. He’s an engineer by trade, like me. For the sake of this fictionalization, let’s call him Stuart.
There was a day in the recent past when Stuart came to work in pain. It was foot pain. And apparently it was excruciating. He sat at his cubicle desk on this stressful morning, and he pondered his affliction. His co-workers and I passed by and couldn’t help but notice his agonizing condition.
“What’s the matter, Stu?” I asked.
“I’m hurting, man. I’ve got something wrong with this foot.”
He wheeled in his chair to face his glowing computer screen, and he Googled. I went for coffee.
Another friend and co-worker came by a while later, and he too addressed Stuart’s obviously painful situation.
“What’s wrong with your foot?”
“I don’t know yet.”
All the while Stuart’s left-hand fingers raced across his keyboard, in ambidextrous harmony with a right-hand steadily clicking away at a mouse in Morse-code speed.
Screen after screen whirred past in a blur. WebMB, the Mayo Clinic, the Center for Disease Control, The Psychic Network – all were consulted. Until finally, eureka! An answer, the answer, flashed on the screen.
“Plantar Faciitis. I’ve got plantar faciitis,” Stuart told the two of us, his countenance sinking.
Having just returned to the medical waiting area outside Stuart’s cube, I heard the diagnosis first-hand, as it came in. The other friend and I asked in unison, “What’s that?”
A deep sigh, and Stuart began the lengthy explanation of his condition. Plantar faciitis, it was revealed to us in somber tones, is an inflammation of the thick band of tissue that connects the heel to the toe on the bottom of a person’s foot.
“The Mayo Clinic says it’s ‘a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot near the heel,’” Stuart lamented.
“And ’the pain is usually the worst with the first few steps after awakening.’ That’s what I’ve got, man.”
“Listen to this, ‘although it can ALSO be triggered by long periods of standing or rising from sitting.’ That’s it.” Stuart slumped in his chair.
We looked over his shoulder at the information on the screen. There was a whole section on complications and treatments. A long silence ensued, broken only by the sounds of labored and mournful breathing from our friend in need.
Stuart slipped off his shoe to try and achieve some relief. He stopped and stared.
“Oh,” he said.
And we looked down, too, into the shoe that Stuart now held at knee-height, at the cause of it all … a bright shiny nail, through the sole, at the heel.
“Well, I’ll be – Hand me those pliers, would you?“