This is my last month of physical therapy - Yay! I now only have two visits a week instead of three until the end of the month. I have home exercises to do forever and can come back if I need to, but I get all of my writing time back in just a few weeks.
The last day of this month, Halloween, is the two year anniversary of the day I got stress fractures in my right foot and the last day I was able to walk normally, although I do distinctly remember how much my foot hurt that day - it hurt too much for me to stand up to open my door to hand out candy.
When I woke up the next day, I couldn't walk on it at all. A neuroma (a big bundle of nerve inflammation and enlargement) developed, no one can really explain how or why. The treatment for the neuroma didn't work - it made it worse. So the doctor, the best foot guy around, gave me a cane and offered narcotics and the best of luck.
A year and several months later, a different doctor discovered that the pain stemmed from my sciatic nerve (kind of by accident) and an EMG confirmed it. But the MRI didn't show a problem at L5 - there was no pinch, no compression, nothing that the doctors, the best neurosurgeons around, could fix. So they gave me drugs that made me feel both stoned and drunk. They told me not to give up hope and handed me a brochure for an absolutely terrifying nerve stimulator they could surgically implant on my spine to mildly electrocute me if I thought that would help (seriously).
A few days later, I had an allergic reaction to the only meds that gave me relief and was left with only a physical therapist who was about to be fired for no apparent reason except poor reimbursement.
I changed physical therapists and found hope. He tried different things until some days, many days, my foot, sciatic nerve, and lower back felt normal - without medication and without feeling stoned.
He admits I will likely have days where my foot is great, and days when it isn't. I will have to be careful doing certain activities - like driving and walking - and I will never ever run.
But I can basically function normally now.
- I no longer walk with a cane and haven't needed it for at about two months.
- I can do the dishes every day - very exciting for my husband, I'm sure.
- I can pick up my preschooler when he's crying (carefully and not for long, but I can do it).
- I can walk my preschooler into his school while holding his hand and carrying a cup of coffee (not possible with a cane).
- I can cook dinner without being in intense pain and suffering greatly the next day. I love to cook, so this is huge.
- I can attend my childrens' teacher conferences without having to make arrangements in advance to have someone unlock a side door for me so I don't have to walk down a long hallway.
- I can go to the grocery store - small stores and only for small trips, but shopping is possible.
- When my husband is out of town, I no longer have to strategize about how I will be able to purchase milk if we run out before he gets home.
- I can got out to eat at restaurants instead of only ordering carry-out.
- I no longer need to have my children and husband do a recon mission before I commit to going somewhere - they check to see if they think I can handle it. Some places I cannot do, but many are possible now.
- I can sleep without waking up in pain during the night - and I can sleep in more than one position.
- I now can carry on with my life without being the subject of pity from others.
It has been very eye-opening, this two year journey where people I don't know have gone out of their way to help me, to offer to carry things for me, to open doors, and always, always, without exception to remind me to have a good day.
Isn't that funny? Do you do that? Do you smile at someone walking with a cane and tell them to have a good day? Do you ask them if they are OK if they put down their cane to bend down to tie their shoe? Do you offer to hold the door even though it will take them a very long time to get to it?
It is sometimes uncomfortable for me to be on the receiving end of that kind of kindness, kindness because there's obviously something wrong with me and everyone can see something bad has happened. It is uncomfortable, but it's also amazing that I have experienced an overflowing of genuine kindness directed at me.
Every day I've left my house, people have wished me well. Maybe it's the accumulation of those good wishes, those kind thoughts, that positive energy that's brought me to this one brilliant caregiver that has brought me to the point of recovery.
I have taken to paying it back lately, not only do I hold the door open for people using canes or walkers or just having a hard time getting down the sidewalk, I also tell them my story, not all of it, but that I just stopped using a cane after nearly two years and absolutely know how they feel.
I think I will re-post this on Halloween and every Halloween after just so I don't forget, so I remember to count my blessings.