Thursday, May 12, 2016

Writer’s Workshop: A Question of Balance

Yes, it’s an album by The Moody Blues from 1970, which features the song “Question,” but I’m not going to talk about that. Instead, I’m going to complain like an old man about my aches and pains. Sorry.

Since my stroke in 2007, balance has become a serious issue for me. Lose it, and I’m on the floor, and I have to get myself up somehow. Not the easiest thing to do: I have the weight issue, plus, as I learned yesterday, my right leg has a maximum bend ability of only 66°. According the the physical therapist that saw me yesterday, that should be around 120°, and 90° is workable. So, I struggle to bend my leg enough to get back on my feet.

I’m lucky in that I haven’t fallen that much in nine years. That’s both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, I haven’t had to pick myself up off the floor very often. On the other hand, I haven’t had the practice in getting up, so each time it’s like learning how all over again.

Compounding the balance issue is the lymphedema that I’ve developed since the stroke. When I was in the hospital, they wrapped my leg to get the swelling down, then gave me compression socks to keep the swelling down. That was fine when I had a nurse or technician help me get the things on in the morning and off at night. When I got home, I couldn’t get them on or off without Mary’s help, and she found it even more difficult than I did. We tried some other remedies, but eventually I stopped wearing the compression socks, figuring whatever will be, will be.

Since then, I’ve just lived with the leg swelling up. It doesn’t hurt, but it looks like hell, and the doctor is concerned that the skin is going to start breaking down. Since I’ve been on disability for two years now, I’m eligible for Medicare, so the doctor said okay, I’m going to send you to physical therapy and see what they can do for you. The therapist, Robert, took a look at the leg and said forget it, I’m going to have to send you to another facility where they can wrap it before we can do anything else. So, I have an appointment next Thursday to see what they can do. I’m hoping that whoever I see can get my leg back in shape and figure out some simple solution to the whole compression socks issue.

Right now, my right leg is about ninety percent of my problems. The therapist estimated that one to two gallons of fluid accumulates in the leg every day, and with water at roughly ten pounds a gallon, I’m lugging around a lot of weight, which affects my balance, my gait, and my desire to get up and walk around, which I know would help a lot. And I wouldn’t have the issue of all that fluid wanting to come out overnight (and I’ll just leave it at that).

Mary’s been worried that my upper body strength is becoming an issue, and Robert said occupational therapy might be a solution to that. He also said that my doctor is good about referring patients to therapy, and that Medicare might consider the upper body issue a separate one, which would save me some money and maybe, just maybe, get me so I can write with a pen and play the guitar.

Anyway, thanks for listening, and here’s “Question” from the album.

Today’s blog post was prompted by “Write a blog post inspired by the word: balance.”

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

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