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.


  1. Wow. Talk about brave. Your ability to sacrifice pride and sense of strength for a longer lasting, harder goal is incredibly impressive. This blog post immediately made me think of emotional/writing issues I've been struggling with.

    The willingness to look "weak" during the process of growing strong is immensely challenging. But as this post shows, this is often the only path available to us. And many people are unwilling to take it. Unwilling to look weak or foolish to the world. Making the weaker parts (literally or figuratively) do the work is messy and exhausting, but is the only way to transform weakness into strength. Your actions give me the courage to allow myself to be vulnerable in order to grow strong. Thank you, as always!

  2. I want to add that obviously doing this physically vs. emotionally are two very different matters. I only mean that your willingness to be brave makes me want to be brave in my own way!

  3. I'm scheduled for the same procedure in May. I would gladly take 3 steps back for total progress. It's the back and forth with stroke which is disheartening.

    It sounds like this procedure is worth the effort. Thanks!

  4. I love the days when my gait almost feels normal. What an amazing hjourney!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I can see that we have to risk being imperfect to grow and get stronger. It is such a pleasure to read your blog!