Been 72 hours since the pain in my left ankle started and the swelling has been intense. I have not been able to get the swelling down even a notch despite elevating it and putting ice on it. I have tried to rest but I get so antsy that I have to go downstairs to munch on something or to go to the bathroom. I hate going downstairs more than having to climb up. Going down I have to go one step at a time and because my proprioception (sense of sensing) is off I have to look at where my feet are before taking the next step or risk a fall down the stairs. I’ve been lucky so far as I have been able to catch my balance to avoid a fall but that is because I am holding the banister for dear life while I go down the 15 or so steps, one at a time like a little kid.
I remember I used to make fun of my childhood friend who went down the stairs one at a time, but that was back when we were kids. Now I’m an adult and don’t trust myself to go one foot over the other because my nerves are messed up due to Cauda Equina syndrome. It is a painful nerve condition that is caused most likely by prolapsed or herniated discs that affect the cauda equina (horse’s tail) bundle of nerves. These nerves are what controls all nerve and motor function below the waist. Because I was “lucky” enough to have this happen to me twice in 5 yrs, I am now left with permanent nerve damage in my left ankle/foot/leg, specifically, my peroneous muscles and tendons. These muscle and tendons are what causes my ankle/foot to go out to the left while walking. Because this is not normal walking, the muscle and tendons are constantly being inflamed by me pulling on them. They are not supposed to used while walking but I am forcing them to. Plus because I still have weakness in my ankle that does not help. This weakness when added to fatigue makes me walk worse.
Again the weakness was caused by CES, Cauda Equina Syndrome x 2. You never realize how much you take for walking for granted until it is taken away from you. I used to be able to walk miles without difficulty. Now I am lucky to go three blocks without pain. My life sucks. I hate not being able to walk for exercise or for traveling. Now instead of walking to the train station that is a mile away, I am forced to take a bus. I am grateful that I can get a seat most days and that I don’t have to stand on the bus because that just puts added pressure on my tendons.
Not too many people really care that I walk with an AFO (ankle foot orthotic) brace. Only small children will stare. Most adults won’t even notice. I went to my Aunt’s 90th birthday party a few months ago and though I was wearing my AFO, no one really said anything until I walked toward or away from them. But they are my family and love me anyway.
Because I had worked as a lab assistant, my job could not accommodate my restricted walking so now I am out of work. I am on disability. I feel like a sleeze bag because I can’t work anymore. It kills me to not have anything to do day in and day out. Most days I stay inside because I just don’t have the energy to go out, even if it’s just for a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Lately my time at home has been increased to the point that I might go out just to get a soda. Having to rely on the bus and bus schedules makes you regret having to go out. Sometimes the bus is on time and all is right with the world. Most of the time it is late. And it sucks having to stand and wait for it. Even though I can have a seat on the bus, there is no bench to sit on at most bus stops. And standing is truly what causes my leg pain to flair up. I take medication but only if I’m home. I stopped taking it when going out because it caused me to have dizzy spells and to feel out of it at times. Better to feel out of it at home than while out on the street.
And now it’s the day after I load myself up on meds to control the pain. I usually feel ok after I have a day of meds but sometimes all it talks is to go up and down a flight of stairs to aggravate my damn ankle/nerve injury. The “simple” act of going up and down stairs can be torture for me. People take it for granted until that sprained ankle or hurt knee is involved. Then they realize it is not as simple as one might think it to be.
So that is my chronicle for today. Thank you for reading.
6 thoughts on “Ankle Chronicles, Part 2”
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