Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Twinkle Toes

I think it happened in Venezuela, while walking down the mountain from Angel Falls. In that days that followed, it felt like I had sand in my shoes, but that wasn't the case. The theory is that my "water runner" sneakers didn't keep my feet in place. Hiking down the steep trail my toes pressed into the toe box of the sneakers, putting pressure on the toes and the balls of my feet. Sustained pressure like this causes nerve trauma. The effected area loses sensation.

Salar de Uyuni

The tips of several toes and the balls of both feet became numb. I was concerned that the problem was rated to my back. I pulled a muscle on the second day of the trip while lifting the bike onto the center stand. Even with several visits to chiropractors and a Raki massage, the back injury would haunt me for the length of the trip...but that is another story.

There are several doctors in my family. I was able to contact my cousin Philip when traveling in Brazil. He recommended that I consult a neurologist to rule out any problems that might be related to my spine. In Buenos Aires I got a recommendation from my friend Pablo. The doctor tested my feet and legs, ruling out spinal complications. I was relieved, because a spinal problem would end the trip and potentially my motorcycle riding.

There is a second theory to the nerve trauma. The vibration from the motorcycle engine that travels to the foot pegs and transfers to the boots, might have been sufficient. I lean toward poorly fitting sneaker as the root cause. Gentle readers with knowledge or experience of numb are encouraged to squeak up.

It's now over six months later and to my relief, most of the feeling has return to my toes and the balls of my feet have nearly completely recovered. If the feeling had not improved, I was resigned to losing some sensation in my toes like climbers of Mount Everest sacrifice toes in exchange for a great adventure.

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