Sunday, May 27, 2012

FOOTDROP: Another Year, Another New Device?

ANOTHER New Device?

It's steel-grey outside, with lightening forcing me to run on battery and thunder interrupting my viewing of the famous Minnesota eagle: 
while buckets of rain are being dumped all around me.

I'm laughing away out here in my sun porch office where I'm supposed to be working but am instead cleaning up my email and reading the oh-so-entertaining posts of a few of my on-line buddies.

I've been absent.  Yes, I see that. It's not because I don't love you, It's not because I had writer's block. It isn't due to a lack of news. I was just taking a break from having MS.  You know what I mean. I was being a regular person--living my life, getting up in the morning and working and avoiding exercise and eating whatever I wanted. The human stuff. The longing to be just the-gal-around-the-corner and not that-woman-with-MS.  I just get sick of it, don't you?

So the last thing I wanted to think about was MS, assistive devices or anything of that ilk. As you read about the state of my decline, you are going to wonder how I could possibly pretend to not have MS, but we are, after all, exceedingly talented folks, are we not?

However, I do have news. I realized a couple of months ago that my BionessL300 unit was no longer working very well for me.  I was forced to hang on more and more to walls, husbands, whatever was handy, in order to stay upright and mobile. I could see the alarm in the eyes of passers-by as I wobbled and grabbed my way into places with my cane.

I tried new gels on the L300 and inking my knee to make sure I had the cuff on in the right place. Not much change. Then I tried my first devices--the AFO and also the bungee-cord thing.

(click here for old Foot Drop posts)  
(Unfortunately, you will have to find the "All Labels" bar just to the right at top center, and click the pull-down arrow and scroll down to Foot Drop and click on that to get to just those posts.  Sorry, I'm just not savvy on these link things.)

To my amazement, the AFO worked best, and fairly well, at that.  So these days, I'm once again strapped into the ridiculously clunky device, wearing the lovely no-seam socks that came with it, and checking out a carbon fiber AFO (

So far I have located the prosthetic company that can test me for it, check out my other devices, and help with choices on my old stuff vs. the carbon fiber wonder.  I have emailed my doc for an Rx to go there and am awaiting her reply. (Love the online clinic services!)

Meanwhile, I had decided to find an exercise bike that didn't kill my arms and shoulders, or other body parts, for that matter, and you who ride know what I mean.  I also needed one I didn't have to step over anything to get on it. I had finally been convinced that getting any kind of exercise at all improves everything for me. On vacation I made myself walk behind a grocery cart instead of using my scooter. Because we are disorganized we went there twice a week. By the end of a month, I could tell that I was much stronger. Some of you are saying "Duh!" and others are groaning at the thought of exercise; I'm with you on both counts.

I had to solve the problem of my hyper-extending knee in order to use a semi-recumbent bike but one slip-on brace later (thank you Sports Authority,) I was up and running, so to speak.  After the bike arrived, I looked at it in the bedroom for four days before actually mounting the thing, and now I have managed 10 minutes a day for a week, upping the resistance to a whopping 5 on the dial. I am getting all sorts of unwanted advice about which comes first, increasing the amount of time spent pedaling or the resistance number, and have decided to go for adding a minute a day and leaving the number where it is until I'm doing a half hour.

All I can say is, my knee feels a lot better and I didn't even use the brace today.  I'll have to keep you posted on the strengthening situation. I sure would like to be able to pick up my right leg better from the knee. The foot drop devices can keep my toes up but they don't do a thing for lifting my foot farther from the ground. I still "catch" my shoe on carpet, concrete, linoleum; everything that can be below a person's foot likes to grab me and that's what has been getting worse.

Foot Drop is a big thing among MSers so it's not surprising that most of the random hits that bring people to this blog are referrals from search engines on that topic. So for those so inclined, stay tuned, more to be revealed, including my alternative doc's idea that breathing pure oxygen for a couple of hours a day might help regenerate damaged nerve tissue.  Hmmmm on that one for now, but never say never!

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