A day in the life

Today I came very close to falling for the first time in a very long time and it scared the heck out of me. My therapist and I discussed it later and I have strict instructions to take things more slowly, to be more careful about standing and getting my bearings before starting to walk. I stand up a lot but haven’t been doing a lot of moving while standing up because I didn’t have shoes on and I know that’s not safe. But I can and do stand to go pee, to brush my teeth, wash dishes, take pills, etc. But really walking has taken a step backwards for the time being. Now that I can get shoes on five days a week, that should change.

One thing I forgot about wearing shoes every day is dealing with the damned AFO’s. In a few short days I’d managed to mostly forget about how the velcro strap on the left AFO keeps coming off and falling down my foot. And how the right AFO slides under the ball of the big toe, pressing on a tender arthritis spot. And of course how much I just generally hate them. On the other hand, they do steady my feet and keep the toes from dragging. I’m hoping the left one will not be needed nearly as long as the right one, though I’m not completely sure how I’ll know when that time actually is. Therapy says to ask the doctor; I suspect he will say to ask therapy.

I see the spine surgeon at the end of next week, three months out from my surgery date. I know he said to expect it to take 8-12 months to see how much functionality comes back, and also that it probably won’t be everything. The not knowing is the hard part. But when I look back at how far I’ve come in these three months, I’m pretty proud of myself. It’s not all steps forward – and to be really honest, if I end up in a wheelchair for most of the rest of my life, I know that I can handle it. I don’t WANT it, and will work hard to regain as much as I can, but it’s important for me to know that this Very Hard Thing didn’t break me.

Today I spent an hour doing Chair Yoga with about 10 other ladies and found the stretching and poses to be mostly doable, with some adjustments for being in the wheelchair. Our teacher talked with me after class and told me that she will do some additional research on movements for wheelchair-bound folks to find something else for me, too. There are also seated Tai Chi classes twice a week that I look forward to attending, as well as some general stretching classes that can be done seated or standing. I came back from therapy in time for Margarita Monday and a chance to be social with some people I know and met others for the first time. It’s starting to feel like my community now, and I’m settling in just fine.

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