Tag Archives: AFO

What I Lean On

“Help me. Help me.” I blurt out in a semi-panic but soft-toned voice. I knew my sister, Melissa, was behind me with my walker and bag. I had just taken my first step down the stairs leading to the garage; I felt my body starting to lean backwards in off-balance mode. The last thing I wanted was to take another tumble, thus, my cry for help. Melissa helped me rebalance and I slowly descended. At the bottom, my walker is reopened and I place my bag in the middle compartment. Now holding to the handles, I stand and wait for my ride to church.

I haven’t used my walker in the house since around Thanksgiving. Even my cane I have left in the garage and have only used these two walking assistants when going outside the house to town, church, errands or meeting friends and social gatherings. That is until this past weekend. I first started with my cane. I noted at the beginning of last week that getting up to use the bathroom in the early mornings could sometimes have me feeling off-balance. I never used my cane, but just had it resting against my bedside for “just in case.”

Then I fell. Friday afternoon–I was setting up my painting area for a Saturday morning, “Coffee, brunch and painting,” time with ¬†a friend. I don’t even know technically how it happened, because I don’t remember twisting my ankle, but my tumble forced me to my knees. If I had “snapped forward,” I would have just landed harder on my hands. But my fall sent me on backward whiplash; my legs being folded under me, I crunch down on my crooked feet. As I regain composure, but in pain, I try to shift my feet out from under me but find myself underneath the table (that is the part in which I don’t understand!) I knew I was going to have to have assistance getting up off the floor, and since no one came downstairs yet to check on me, I pushed my Lifeline button. ūüôā

Friday’s fall resulted in a very sore left leg: a torn ligament in the knee. It is really the last thing I wanted at this time. I already am struggling with increasing frustration at my right hand and just the mental processing of being slow. Now I use my walker more regular in the house–discussion today also mentioned that it might be time to restart my AFO braces (at least the right foot while my left leg slowly heals.) That decision alone will be something to pray for peace about–my choice to end wearing them, and PT sessions, in the Fall was primarily to live without them until I needed them to walk. I can still walk, but it is only by God’s divine power that I still can.

I see myself weakening and I want to be strong; I force myself to persevere, but need strength to lean on.

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Refrain

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

Words by: Elisha A. Hoffman

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Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Uncategorized

Rebalance

The Olympics are always a fascinating two-week¬†event to watch (Even more so, the Paralympics that come a few weeks after!!) Although I enjoy watching the¬†ice skating, curling, and speed skating competitions, my favorite of the two seasons (winter/summer) is the Summer Games.¬†Last summer, the Olympics were held in London–which I found fabulous as Britain/UK is on the top of my own “Mel’s World Travels” sort of wish list. I had been reading several books on the reigns¬†of¬†the different¬†kings/queens and through some church history already, so when CBS would air the “interesting things of London” segments, I felt like a school kid.

At that time, I worked early morning shifts and¬†would be home by lunch for the rest of the day.¬†This¬†meant that I¬†had the chance to watch the afternoon events that you don’t normally see in the evening time as they get crowded out from¬†the more popular ones.¬†I got to see¬†sailing, archery, table tennis, equestrian,¬†judo,¬†fencing, taekwondo and I watched some weight lifting. It was all very interesting.

Every sport has an attribute in which I feel they put more attention to¬†more than another sport would focus on…for example: soccer: kicks and feet motions; synchronized¬†diving: timing of the downward movements; equestrian: pose and maintaining your horse; rowing: upper body strength; and my favorite, because I¬†have none–gymnastics: BALANCE!

I should correct myself: I don’t have much balance, but anymore these days even my “much” balance does not account for much. ūüėČ I could venture to say that I somewhat¬†occasionally perform floor exercises like a gymnast, but less graceful in the air, more flapping of arm movements and I never land on my feet (quite the opposite.) However, the balance issue is currently being worked on during these past few PT sessions and ones yet to come. My rehabilitation doctor at Children’s prescribed for me to get ankle braces. These aren’t just any ankle brace–they are AFO¬†braces. (I like the abbreviation–it stands for Ankle-foot Orthotic.) They look like this:

ankle-foot-orthosis-afo-80454-3202943 medicalexpo.com

What you see is what it is–huge, feels like hard plastic, from knee past the toes bondage for your feet. So far the only fun part has been my display of cool designed knee-high¬†socks, which I actually only get to wear on the right leg as the neutral colored compression stocking takes the left leg. But with jeans on, nobody notices anyway. Otherwise, these AFO’s are hard work! I feel I am training for the Olympics, except in my case, I am “re-training” my brain to use the muscles that have weakened after¬†years of atrophy.¬†Also, these braces¬†are helping my right ankle to stay straight when I walk (but¬†I feel it trying to twist) and in time, I hope the added weight my left leg gains from the weak right side will balance out too.

The exercises so far have been small but aiming at balance. It is unbelievable how¬†it can make your legs feel like Jello within a few minutes! We took another strength-goals test today to see how I¬†am progressing…even though it has had two DVTs, my left leg is the strong leg!¬†But that doesn’t surprise me. Usually by the end of my session, I am ready for the braces to come off, but today I went an hour longer¬†after my PT left and¬†did normal routine things…then¬†I was¬†ready to take them off!¬†The walker proved to be a useful resource¬†in stability as I walked around¬†the house just¬†fine today; best part was when I needed a break, I locked the wheels and sat for a minute¬†to catch my breath.

This is only the beginning. Change will not happen over night…it is going to take time, effort, and a lot of sore muscles. In the end,¬†I should¬†(and hope) be able to wear the braces regularly in a day; I anticipate less falling, but that may just be inevitable.

I am ready for the challenge: it makes me feel like an Olympian.

Greece0048

The Olympic Stadium. Athens, Greece.

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. Job 23:10 ESV

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Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Hospital Trips