Monday, January 14, 2013

Three Steps Back

In my recovery each advance has been hard-fought and has brought new freedoms. Walking without a cane meant being able to carry items from point A to point B. Stronger muscles meant more stamina — to run an errand or do a chore. These abilities gave me a sense of usefulness, which helped my mood.

In the last months of 2012, I surrendered these luxuries by agreeing to an experimental treatment designed to improve my lopsided gait. Arbi had the unusual idea of injecting Botox into my peroneous longus and peroneous brevis muscles, essentially immobilizing them. Without them my foot inverts (rotates inward). To walk I was therefore forced to engage my weak extensor muscles, which assist with foot "eversion." This was the objective: to strengthen the minor muscles around my ankle.

By the end of each day, my ankle was so tired and painful, I couldn't stand up even to microwave dinner. I became more dependent on my husband again. I started using a cane again. Friends who had celebrated my progress watched me regress.
It was really hard.

But three months later my ankle is stronger, my foot straighter and my gait more even. I now sometimes take a half-dozen steps that feel almost normal. I can envision a time when I will walk without a limp and what that might feel like.

But it won't be within the next few months. Arbi just told me that the experiment has been such a success, he wants to repeat it —
to force those tiny ankle muscles to work even harder.
. Six steps forward, three steps back.