Dr. Archie Flatfoot walks to work each morning with feet on the brain, savoring the support of his orthopedic shoes. Unlocking the door of his private practice—Flatfoot Podiatry—he treads across the carpet to the examination room. Dr. Flatfoot's secretary arrives a short time later, and together they review the day's appointments.
"Archie, your first appointment at nine is with a lady complaining of bunions. After that, you have a fitting for prosthesis and then a heel spur case. After lunch is your most regular patient, Limpy Footwell, who today is complaining of pain and a foul odor when he takes off his shoes."
"Sounds like an exciting day, let me know when the first appointment arrives."
Dr. Flatfoot retreats to his office, and sits at his desk where the newest medical journals are stacked with titles like Foot and Ankle, Arch Week, and This Little Piggy. He picks up Podiatry Monthly, a well-respected journal in the foot field, and continues an article he began yesterday about the increased dangers of toe-stubbing in a world with increasingly sharp corners.
His studies are interrupted by the telephone ringing. His secretary tells him the call is a worried marathon runner named Ann Kalsprain, who is concerned about foot pain.
"This is Dr. Flatfoot."
"Doctor, thank you for taking the call. I have been training for marathons for two months now, and the pain in my feet is a real pain in the butt. I want to continue training, but don’t know if I can."
"Can you tell me what your training regimen is?"
"Well, I run. I run for six to eight miles a day, and double that one day per weekend."
"What do you run on and what shoes do you wear?"
"I run on my feet, which is the problem. But if you're talking surfaces, I run on pavement, and I wear tennis shoes."
"Tennis shoes for playing tennis?"
"Well, they are actually my old basketball shoes. I used to play basketball, now I run marathons."
"Ann, I am going to go out on a limb and say that you should probably get some running shoes with proper support and cushioning. I imagine that would solve your problem, but I would still like for you to come in for an evaluation. You can make an appointment with my secretary."
After the call, Archie begins to see patients. His first visitor is a young ballet dancer, concerned that her bunions are going to ruin her career. The doctor examines her protrusions—which are quite pronounced—and has to break the news that they will continue to worsen as long as she spends hours each day balancing her entire weight on her toes.
Dr. Flatfoot's second appointment stumps into the room with the familiar staccato rhythm of the high seas. Step, clump, step, clump.
"What can I do for you today Mr...."
"Captain R. Thopedic. Yargh, you see, I've been walkin' on me wooden leg for nearly three score years, and they tell me it's time to get something a bit more seaworthy. I can barely swab the poop deck."
"That sounds dirtier than it probably is. Well, captain, fitting for a new prosthesis is a relatively simple procedure. We'll start with taking a form of your leg so that the new prosthetic fits well, and then we will take some measurements and I will observe your gait so that the new foot has you walking planks in no time. Sound good?"
The hours and appointments scurry by, until the final visitor arrives. Limpy Footwell enters the office, barely dragging his left foot behind him with the help of a cane. He sinks heavily into the examination chair, with the heady smell of foot swirling around him. This is the third time this month Limpy has been to see the podiatrist.
"Mr. Footwell, I see you are having some difficulties. How can I help you today?"
"Doc, this began a week ago. It's like my left foot is on fire and, I hate to admit, I can barely stand the stench of my socks or shoes."
"Go ahead and remove them and we'll see what we can find."
An ankle to toe examination reveals that Limpy is suffering from an infection caused by an ingrown toenail, threatening to turn gangrenous. Archie begins a series of aggressive injections of antibiotics and then takes out his prescription pad.
"Mr. Footwell, I am going to prescribe you oral antibiotics." "But Doc, that's as far from my foot as you can get. This isn't foot and mouth disease."
"The antibiotics will treat the infection systemically, and I will also prescribe some anti-inflammatory pills along with something for the pain so you can get home and get some rest. I want you to follow the medicinal regimen, stay off your feet for a week, and soak your left foot in hot water twice a day to draw out the infection.
And the next time you notice an ingrown toenail, come see me immediately so we don't have to be so aggressive or fumigate the office."
"Will do, Doc, and thanks for your help."
After a long day, Dr. Flatfoot is locking up the office when his wife calls.
"Want to join me for dinner? We can split a foot-long and watch the football game."
"You sure know how to turn me on. Throw in a bit of footsie, and you're on."