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January 24, 2007
So, What's All This About Physical Therapy?

As some of you, my miniscule audience of regular readers, already know, I have something of a history of back problems.

Some of you might recall that this past summer I broke a bone in my foot. At the time, I was having a bit of knee difficulties, and the usual periodic bout of sciatic pain. Not too long after I broke the bone, I tripped — over my own feet, I think — while walking through the lobby at my workplace. Something in my back went pop...

The regular sciatic pain went away, for which I was grateful. But then, going down the stairs at the office later that day, I noticed something unusual: I couldn't feel my heels contacting the steps.

As time went by, I noticed that I had lost some control, and the feeling in my legs. Mycah took advantage of this lack of control at one point, in an effort to eliminate me.

Humor aside, it was clear to me that there was a serious problem. I was falling down a couple times a week as my legs gave out from underneath me, and I could tell that certain muscles simply weren't responding. It was getting harder and harder to walk up the stairs at the office or at home. Particularly bothersome was the loss of the muscle responses that contribute to balance; I could no longer just walk, I had to think about every step, or I would fall over.

The balance problem has gotten worse since then. I don't fall down so much, mainly because I'm careful not to take chances, and I usually maintain a third-point-of-contact, with (for instance) my hand on a wall when I walk. Some leg muscles have developed to take over for those that aren't responsive, but walking and climbing stairs is still problematic. I still have motor control, but I can't always feel what's happening below the hips.

Some days are better, some days are worse.

The short version of this tale is that it's pretty clear that I've damaged the nerves that handle the legs, but the only pain I feel is in my back. At this point, I think I'd rather have the sciatic pain, if for no other reason than to be sure that there is something alive down there.

It's pretty clear to me that this is my old Army injury writ large. Convincing the Veterans Administration of that is something else altogether, but I'm trying. I suspect surgery will ultimately be involved; I face the prospect of being categorized as a "disabled veteran."

In the meantime, I'm on a regimen of muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories and painkillers, and I'm seeing a physical therapist. I spend rather more time in bed than I am used to. As it's become harder to get around, I've been working from home more and more. I'm just glad I chose a career field in which telecommuting is a sign of professional capability.

Ever since my Dad passed away almost ten years ago, I've kept as a memento the cane he used when he had the problems that resulted in knee and hip replacements. I never expected to use it myself... but I'm tempted. So tempted.

Posted by Russ at 11:32 PM, January 24, 2007 in Personal Stuff

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Take care of yourself, and use the cane if you need to! (as I'm always telling my mum)

Posted by: Ith at January 25, 2007 01:02 AM