All I did was walk on my tip toes! (A 16 year old with chronic ankle and wrist pain)

In May, 2005, my sister and and I were goofing off and standing on our tip toes for about 15 minutes straight. I got a sharp pain in one of my Achilles tendons, and stopped immediately. The pain went away, but about 2 days later I got the same sharp pain in both of my ankles while walking to class. At softball practice that night, my coach made me go see the school trainer. She pressed on my upper calves and on the sides of my lower Achilles tendon. She said I didn’t have Achilles tendonitis because it only hurt when she pressed on my lower Achilles tendon.

When the pain persisted, I went to our family doctor, and he told me that the cause of my problem was the tip-toe walking. He put me on 400mg of Motrin, twice a day and diagnosed me with Achilles tendonitis. He said that the Motrin should help and that I should be pain-free in 4-6 weeks. However, I got worse and had to sit out the rest of softball season. Six weeks later, I went to a different family doctor and he put me on Ketoprofen gel that I applied twice a day directly to my lower Achilles tendons. When I didn’t get better after 4 weeks, he prescribed physical therapy 2 times per week.

Now that I think back, I had a lot of confusing symptoms during the month of June. In the middle of the month, I participated in gymnastics to prepare myself for cheerleading tryouts. I clearly remember that during the gymnastics class, I had zero pain. I thought it would be obvious that I would have the most pain while I was flipping around on the gymnastics floor, but oddly, I was wrong. After gymnastics was over, my usual pain returned and didn’t get better. In July, I saw a sports medicine doctor. He took me off of the Ketroprofen gel and put me on 500 mg of Naproxen twice a day. He told me that I would be healed by the time school started as long as I took my medicine, rested my ankles as much as possible, and wore higher heels to keep my Achilles tendon from stretching.

I attended cheerleading camp in the beginning of August. On the first day of camp, I did a lot of walking and standing but strangely my ankles didn’t hurt that night. However, the next morning as soon as I woke up and even before I got out of bed, both of my ankles had excruciating pain. They had never hurt that bad before. I could barely stand up and when I walked down the hall to the bathroom I started to cry. This was the first time that I had ever cried because of the pain that I was having. Overall, by the end of cheerleading camp, my ankles were far worse than before. My doctor was not happy with me and told me that this would cause a great setback in my recovery time. As you might’ve guessed, I did not recover by the time school started, and was still sitting out of cheerleading. At the beginning of school, I also switched physical therapists. After 3 months, my new physical therapist was able to reduce my pain from an 8 to a 6.

In October, my sports medicine doctor saw that I was not improving significantly, so he put me in walking casts. I was not happy about this at all and in fact, when I went to Wright & Fillipis to get them on, I had tears in my eyes. I was the new girl at school and had to wear 2 plastic boots on my ankles throughout the day. I was mortified. The only plus side to the boots was that my team sympathized with me a little more and realized that I wasn’t going to be able to participate any time soon. I had to wear the boots for 4-6 weeks. Also in October, my wrists began to hurt.

I got my boots off about half-way through November and my ankles felt a little better. I had to stretch them every morning and night, and do multiple exercises a couple of times per week. My ankles had a little less pain (about a 6 on a scale from 1-10) but I still could not do my everyday activities that I would’ve liked to. Meanwhile, my wrists continued to get worse and worse. It was like little pins and needles constantly poking at the tops of my hands, the underside of my wrist, and my forearms. I was having a very difficult time writing and could no longer type. I went to my sports medicine doctor and he told me to wear some wrist guards at night.

My ankles were still at the pain level 6 by December. They weren’t getting any worse but weren’t getting any better either. My wrists were even worse this month than in November. I could barely write and had an extremely difficult time taking mid-terms. It was hard to even fill in the bubbles on my scan-tron answer sheet. I had to purchase an electric toothbrush because I could no longer brush my teeth without experiencing pain. Also, when I came out of the shower, I had to have my mom brush my hair because the pain was unbearable. During Christmas break, I wore my wrist guards 24/7 and did absolutely no writing or typing. Oddly, my wrists hurt more than ever before during this break. During December, I also noticed that whenever I wore my heavy coat, my elbows would hurt when I bent them. It was almost as if the pressure from the jacket was giving my elbows pain.

During December, I saw a genetics doctor and was tested for Marfans Syndrome. Although the genetics test came back negative, my genetics doctor still believed I had the syndrome because of the physical examination. I also had X-Rays taken of my lower back and wrists to see if I had any form of arthritis. My sacroiliac joints appeared normal. In both of my wrists, the radius was slightly bowed and my rheumatologist suspected that that could be causing the pain. Doctors also suspected carpal tunnel syndrome.I was referred to another rheumatologist and he recommended methotrexate. My parents elected for me not to take it however because it was similar to a chemotherapy drug.

In February, I heard about Dr. Sarno and my dad contacted him. He said that he only saw patients in the New York area and I was very disappointed. However, I read his book and my dad was doing some research online and he found Dr. Schubiner.

Also in February, I went to see another genetics doctor. My friend’s mom, a nurse, said that he was experienced in my type of situation and even healed another patient like me. So, I was excited for this appointment and was hoping to get some answers. However, the day of the appointment was the worst day of my life. I went into the room, and to make a long story short, he told me that I had Marfans Syndrome, I couldn’t be healed, and I would have to live with the pain for the rest of my life. If I had to live with that pain forever, that meant that I wouldn’t be able to walk long distances, type, write, cheer, or play softball ever again. I broke out into tears as soon as I got into the car.

We signed up for Dr. Schubiner’s seminar in hopes that this would finally heal my pain. However, the seminar didn’t start until later in the month and I was going to Florida for Easter. My ankles and wrists were hurting so bad that my dad called Dr. Schubiner and asked him if there was anything that we could do before the seminar that would minimize the pain. We got the CD that Dr. Schubiner uses for his seminar, but for this special case, he let me have it early. Just by relaxing, and listening to the CD my ankles and wrists began to fell a little better.

In May, by going to Dr. Schubiner’s seminar, my ankles and wrists completely stopped hurting. I did all of the writing exercises that he gave his patients to do and just kept reminding myself that the pain was “just my TMS acting up again”. Sometimes, when my ankles or wrists were hurting, I would look in the mirror and yell at myself to make the pain go away. I found that it was very difficult to look in the mirror and see myself yell at myself. However, that always seemed to be the most effective thing to do. During this month, I could walk longer distances, use my regular toothbrush again, eat with forks, spoons, etc. without pain, and I even played softball for the first time in over a year. By the summer, I was completely recovered and pain free. I was able to do everything that I wanted to with my friends and most importantly, I could cheerlead and play baseball again. After seeing all of those doctors, and being on all of those medications, I finally found something that worked. I thank God every day and I basically owe Dr. Schubiner my life for everything that he has done for me. Without him, I would still be having my pain and wouldn’t have a clue on how to fix it.

Shelly E.