Monday, 3 February 2014

drop it like it's hot....


Today's a day for optimism.  I left work early and headed to the hospital for a physio appointment.  It's my second appointment at QMC for this: I was referred by the sports specialist to see if we could work some flexibility into my left ankle.  For reasons I don't really understand, apparently it's quite common for people with MS to lose the dorsiflexion in their ankles.  This means that you lose the ability to flex your foot upwards. This is also rather charmingly known as "drop foot".

Here comes the science part:

"Drop foot is a term that describes a disorder where a patient has a limited ability or inability to raise the foot at the ankle joint. This makes walking difficult as the toes tend to drag on the ground which leads to tripping and instability. Patients adapt to this by using their hip muscles to exaggerate lifting the foot above the ground (known as a “steppage gait”) or by swinging their leg outward so that the foot can clear the ground (known as “circumduction”)"

In the case of MS, nerve damage somewhere in the brain or spinal cord robs you of the ability to control the muscles that make this simple movement possible, and in my case those muscles have lost strength.  The result: scuffing, tripping and a lot more pressure being put through your knees and hips as you try to adjust your gait to compensate.

Today's session with the physio showed just how much flexibility I've lost in my left ankle.  So why is it a good day and a cause for optimism?  Because, although we can't do anything about the underlying causes of the problem, we can address the problem itself.  I spent half an hour with the physiotherapist working on some exercises to push the flexibility of that ankle and it made an immediate difference.  Only a little bit of a difference, barely discernible, but it did make a difference.  I'm going to work on those exercises, and maybe it will keep me running for a little bit longer.

I went running this evening, as it happens.  I seem to wake up physically tired every day at the moment, and I often wake up in the night with cramping in my legs.  My first few steps out of bed are often difficult and have to be taken very carefully because of the loss of sensation in my feet and legs.  I'm usually okay after that, but I'm becoming more and more conscious of how I'm losing my sense of balance.

You know what?  In spite of all that tonight's run felt really good.  New trainers probably helped, but I had some real bounce in my stride, and although we ran up a big old hill twice, I managed to clock an average moving pace of 8.10 mins/mile.... which is pretty damn good for me.  I was certainly helped by the fact that I was towed along for the last three miles by Roy, who is seemingly more machine than man, and the second half of the 5.25 mile run was a lot faster than the first.

My hip hurts a bit tonight, my ankle is a little sore and I've also injected this evening...so I may well feel like crap in the morning.  But right now, I feel pretty good.  I'll certainly take that.  That's a good day.

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