I finally sought medical advice for my aching achilles tendons.
It was a big deal for me to do so: I'm not afraid of doctors or medical care per se, but like many folks I tend to avoid them unless I have no other recourse. After several weeks sidelined from running, I felt I had no other recourse. Fortunately, my primary care doc is also a friend and fellow songwriter--and his office is within walking distance of mine. A quick exam of the tendons yielded his recommendation that I see a sports medicine specialist, who happened to be a distance runner herself.
After accidentally arriving an hour early for my appointment (a bit eager, Dave?), I had x-rays taken (negative, no surprise) and then was introduced to Dr. L, who has to be one of the most energetic, enthusuiastic people I've ever met. Noting my rather wide calves and tight achilles tendons, she commented, "You must've played field sports growing up, eh?" She was right, of course. Turns out that, while I'm "built" well for sports like soccer and football that require quick shifts and turns, I'm not exactly the ideal physical specimen for distance running (no real shock there).
My treatement, then, will consist of two related arms: (1) reducing the pain and swelling in the achilles tendons themselves and (2) loosening my tight lower legs. For the former, she gave me a cortisone shot just above my right achilles tendon (the left one is much less tender and swollen), provided me with an air cast for that foot, and sent me home with topical anti-inflammatory cream. To address the latter, she referred me to a physical therapist, whom I'll visit for the first time tomorrow.
Perhaps the best part of the visit, though, was Dr. L's empathy. "You miss running, don't you? And that makes you sad, huh?" I could only nod my head affirmatively. "Well," she concluded, "we'll have you out there running again within two weeks."
I wasn't wearing my iPod, but that was the sweetest running song I'd heard in a long, long time. I hope she's right.