Saturday, May 23, 2015


Barb Polan
Barb’s Recovery
Posted 29th September 2011

My PT is intent on getting me a new, smaller, less objectionable AFO because I don't wear mine now - except on uneven surfaces: lawn, beach, cobbles and deep gravel. So much for spontaneity - although that's long-gone in my life anyway. My PT went on today about how I'm going to "break" my ankle as a result of never wearing my brace; most therapists have said "sprain," but Mary pulled out the big guns and said "break" and "which is the last thing you want to do." She's right about that, but I am REALLY careful. She thinks I'm going to step on a rock on the sidewalk, on something someone has left on the floor or step wrong on a curb... and then ... snap! I am as diligent, though, as an 80-year-old walking on ice, afraid to fall and break her hip. I inspect the ground/floor/sidewalk and the angle of my foot/ankle before each step. I'm not supposed to, but I walk looking down at my feet, not straight ahead.

At my PT appointment next week, she has a brace specialist coming in to hear me out about the problems with my current brace and to suggest an acceptable alternative.

My hopes for the next brace have many facets: (1) comfort - it would be a huge improvement to have it not stab the back of my knee when I crouch or bend my leg far and have the "hinge" not pinch my skin at the back of my ankle unless I wear a thick sock; (2) vanity - I would like to wear many of my pre-stroke shoes and not have to wear a size 9 on my left and size 7 on my right; and (3) function - my current AFO interferes with me going up and down (mostly down) hills (this includes all gangways to get to/from boats) because I have to ram my heel into the ground (even hardtop, which works with only 1 pair of shoes I have), then, as I step forward and I move the toe of my affected foot toward the ground, the brace pitches me forward and I have to catch myself with my unaffected foot. I don't mean to whine, but here I am, whining. Louder: I HATE my ridiculously huge brace!!!!! Yes, I'll admit that it enabled me to be released from rehab and go home a mere 4 weeks after having the stroke, but that was then and this is now, obviously. What was appropriate then - for example, having someone with me every second, even in the bathroom, would be completely unacceptable now - is no longer appropriate two years later.

Speaking of 2 years, I told my husband yesterday that to acknowledge the two-year anniversary of the stroke Nov. 12, I want to do something I haven't done in 2 years. "Have pancakes for breakfast?" he responded. What a clown. "I should have my new brace by then. How about we take a long walk on Crane's Beach?" He agreed, along with offering to take the day off it that was necessary. It turns out that it's not because, if I read the calendar correctly, it's a Saturday.

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