Yes, there is such a thing. I had to call the doctor's office this a.m. The last 24 hours were particularly bad. The burning in my foot--along the outside and on the instep of my heel--could not be controlled by meds nor ice.
I went to bed with a ice pack. I awoke with my foot feeling like the guest star at a weeny roast. Took a pain med. No help. Imagined my feet in a cold spring. No help. Yoga breathing. Strike three. My pain transmitters were in no mood to be fooled by my brain.
After two hours of wakefulness, my mind began to wander into the terrible woods of thinking about what tools were in the garage to assist in removing this cast. I realized that I was now in dangerous territory of imagining the wondrous feeling of freedom that a skill saw would bring to my foot. I realized that being wakeful while being tired and physically uncomfortable was fostering anxiety and thoughts that would likely separate my foot from this plane of existence if I were to undertake any of the castectomies that I was imagining.
Thankfully, I had a sane idea about trying to take a bath. Bathing is difficult, and I thought that it would take my mind off my foot discomfort. It did. I went back to bed, and around 5:30 a.m. finally went back to sleep for about 2 hours. Upon waking I was greeted warmly by that weeny-roasted foot sensation. A call to the doctor elicited a very quick appointment (surprisingly so!) after they asked me if I was feeling anxiety.
The doctor was very understanding about my situation. Frankly, I'm embarrassed and surprised by it. Where I've been able to cope and control past physical discomforts, this one nailed me. It always hurts when you bump against your own boundaries. But its a good thing to know where they are, too.
The doctor stated that it cast claustrophobia, and it is a very "real" condition. I still feel like it is the pain/hotness rather than the cast that has caused my anxiety. I don't even wear shoes most of the time as my feet naturally respond to the pressure of athletic shoes, dress shoes, etc, by relaying that burning sensation. I can take my shoes off. I cannot take my cast off hence the frustration and discomfort. Frankly, I didn't feel claustrophobic so much as discomfort--but I was likely trapped in an eternal feedback loop (I guess Hell is likely that way too!) that ticked up the anxiety meter after each loop. Of course, night-time naturally amplifies all that is unpleasant when one is injured or sick.
Regardless of my rationalizations, it really doesn't matter. The cast is gone--I can "get" to my foot if I need to, though the boot is permanent, not temporary fixture on my leg. I can take it off to bathe which is nice. I'll likely wrap my foot in that event. I don't want to jeopardize my healing in any way.
Nevertheless, I feel like an ultra-weeny. I've had some pretty bad injuries (broken face, sprained knee from a horse falling on it, broken arm), and I can plow through most illnesses with no problem. My major injuries were all on the south side of 25. I'm considerably north of that, so it's not a fair comparison! When I think of folks confined to larger scale casts for larger scaled injuries, I shudder. You can bet this accident has upped my empathy.
If you are reading this post because you are suffering from this malady, call your doctor, and don't feel ashamed. Ultimately, you have to have peace of mind to foster the healing that your body desperately needs. If your cast is causing you physical or emotional pain, trust your doctor to find a resolution that preserves the integrity of your healing process.
P. S. 06/20/2016 More than 8 years later, this post continues to be one of my most popular. I'm glad that relaying this information has provided some comfort to readers.