A Third Spectral Leg and Other Woes

I hate the idea of a brace, appliance, AFO or whatever you want to call it.  So, I have always called it the Spectral Leg.

I had my first one fitted after a visit to an orthopedist.    SeeDoctor Visit, the Spectral Leg and the Motivation of Ugly

So, I finally made the appointment to be fitted with the new ugly.

I commuted for years into NYC and took the same trains.  You recognize the people after awhile.  Around the time, a couple years back when I knew I was going to lose my job, a man came up to me on the train platform and said he had been looking for me.  “You’re the woman with foot drip, right?”  He told me he used something called a WalkAid that I could be fitted for not far from my home.  We looked it up and it appeared to be similar to the Bioness which we had “discovered” a year or so before. When I had asked my doctor about it, she had told me my existing brace was working and it would do pretty much the same.

Well, the place I had to go for my fitting was the same place for the WalkAid.  We were determined to inquire about it.

My second one has always hurt me.  It has caused my foot to burn and I actually get blood blisters on the ball of my foot from it.  Originally I was told it was in my mind or a nerve thing.  Most recently, I was told that my nerves made it worse.  The last doctor didn’t address it at all as he was replacing it.

The fitter asked about what the doctor wanted as he usually writes something more detailed than was provided.  He also asked who had prescribed my current one and how.  My neurologist wrote it as I wanted something less obtrusive and one that would give me better shoe selection.

He looked at it and the way I walked.  By the way, I made my fifth public appearance with a walker.  The brace has hurt me, not only in terms of the physical pain but also because of its design.  It has hurt my walking.  The first one extended to just before the ball of my foot; this one to my entire foot.  Apparently, this has not allowed my foot to work properly which is why I find myself walking so peculiarly.  My knee and hip are more messed up.

Options?  Well, the to the hip one that the doctor knew I wouldn’t wear and thought might be too heavy for me. One that’s like the first but halfway up the ball of my foot – limited shoes and it won’t help the knee problem.   And then a massive ugly one, front, back and sides.  Oh, I do have a choice of white or black and I can have purple butterflies.  I am a woman of a certain age so purple is regal but butterflies!

And while we waited, we read the WalkAid brochure.  Any shoe!  Walk barefoot on the beach.  The beach is my sanity and peace and it’s been denied to me for years!  Plus because it sends electric impulses through the nerves, it could refire them.  The fitter says I can have it but it won’t help my knee and the way I walk now.  I feel like weeping in frustration and anger.  It’s a little bit me, a little bit them.

So for now, my plan is to get and wear ugly and fight.  And TRUST MY INSTINCTS.

My instincts say wearing it all the time creates dependency and weakness.

How does anyone navigate this mess?  And this fitter doesn’t believe I can improve.  Maybe I am a fool but I don’t buy that.  My plan is to really max healing my knee and getting the WalkAid.  Beach here I come.  Maybe I am delusional but that’s me.

Lotteries and Windfalls

As with many people in the US a few weeks ago, we caught Lotto fever.  Over 1 billion is worth a flutter.  Overall, I am opposed to the lottery.  Originally in New York it was supposed to fund schools.  Really?  And look at the schools in Detroit.  But enough of that.

We bought a few dollars worth of tickets and began to speculate.  What would we do?  Husband announces that first thing we get the absolutely best doctor in the world for what we call MC (my condition).  Ok, you may say I am in denial but it works for me.  Everyone is different.  And after that we would buy a nice house.  We would pay off the one we currently live in.  I must paraphrase Hyacinth Bucket a.k.a Bouquet – the house that is now next to the used car lot with the massage parlor.  The parlor or message store as the police referred to it in a report I made after I had another flat in my driveway is temporarily gone.  Funny enough, as soon as we returned from police, the big sign in the front was gone.  Do I need to say more?

Then after a house for us, one for each of the boys and husband’s sister.  And then?  Well, lots to real charity.  In fact, the other night there was something on the news about local people being displaced and renovations  would have run a few million dollars.   Husband said, “We could have done that in a heartbeat if we had won.”  Well, we didn’t.

Recently, I have undergone significant financial reversals.  No, not the stock markets.  More along the line of no income.  It appears that hopefully after all the belt tightening, this is about to change.  As I anticipate this, another list to make.  Late last summer, a man who saw me commuting, pulled up his pants (nothing lewd here) and showed me a device on his leg.  He thought we had the same condition.  It’s a Walkaid and there’s also another product called Bioness.  They cost a few thousand.  We didn’t have any money when we spoke to the doctor about it and she said it might give me the same results as the Ampyra or it might be better.  It tops my new wish list.  I had to cut back on my traditional donations.  I was an officer at a bank years ago.  One of the first things I did when I received it was write checks to my favorite charities,  My co-worker thought I was odd but it used to give me a kick, almost as good as sex, more like a deep kiss.  Donations to AAUW’s Legal Advocacy fund and the County domestic violence unit.  My two favorites.

So what else have I been thinking about and missing?  Well, as I have said before clothing is my life.  Therefore, I shop.  I love the air in stores, the undercurrent, the lust.  It energizes me.  I remember being in Paris once hungry and tired but in track of a shop I had heard about.  I found it and revived like a flower in water.  Due to my own personal economic downturn I haven’t been able to do it for ages.  I am surprised.  This situation has made me less materialistic.  Clothes and cosmetics aren’t really part of this list. When I received word that things were going to be ok, I admit to flipping through a Smithsonian sales catalog and seeing some Christmas necklaces that would be wonderful for my elves next year.

So what else is on the list?  I want a car.  I wanted one for my milestone birthday.  And not just any car, a “luxury” car.  I am known for saying carwise I am OK with a box, wheels and a radio.  I certainly do not see a car as a reflection of who I am.  My ex-husband and my brother always derided me for that.  I wanna Buick, like the commercial.  It’s cute.  My brother-in-law who is amazing with dealers and dollars couldn’t make it work for me.  The car represents getting something for me and for once not settling.  That’s what it’s about.

This is what I have learned during this setback, downturn, whatever you want to call it.  I no longer want to settle. Not in terms of what I do for a living, not in terms of a car, not in terms of my health.  Oh, right after car on my list I have sliders for Zumba for my sneakers and a personal trainer.

It’s been a huge lesson and one way or another, in my mind, I have won my lottery.

Flip Flop Girl

Somehow I never posted this:  And it’s summer and no flipflops:

I love flip flops.  I always have.   When I was little, the other little girls wore them.  I wasn’t allowed except for the pool.  We called them zorries or thongs.  My mother called them slam patters.  My mother had very definite ideas about children and shoes.  In the spring I wore saddle oxfords, white.  They had to be polished every Sunday night with that horrid white polish.  As soon as I was old enough not to wear them.  They became fashionable.  It is one trend that will never work for me.  In the summer, something like the Greek fisherman’s shoes.  Buckles and perforations.  In the winter, suede ghillies that had to be brushed.  Not fun.

I got away from home and started wearing them in summer on the beach.  They were like 19 cents and unfashionable.  I had more than one pair.

I met a man who wore flip flops and loved the beach.  Well, I still have his flip flops.  I would get all colors and kinds.  I would wear them with everything.

I went to a party in a turquoise mini skirt at the start of fall with black patent flip flops with a fake diamond in the center.  Diamonds on the soles of her shoes.

Then I married someone who didn’t wear flip flops and things just spiraled downwards.  He didn’t like the beach because there was sand.  I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  I left and moved home to my parents.  By that time, my mother would wear them to water the lawn.  And I did have a few that I wore with censorious views.

I moved in with another man, older.  He knocked the joy right out of me.  I left.

I got an apartment and bought pink platform flipflops with pink flowers.  My best friend same over and said Thank God you are back.  “What do you mean?”  “You are wearing flip flops again”  From then on, it was flip flops in the summer, even at work.  And I work in a bank.  During the blackout of 2003, I walked out of New York City in a pair of black platform flip flops with glitter straps.

People bring them back for me from trips.  I have ones from the Far East and from Hawaii. I could go on and on.

And up until two summers ago, I was still wearing them at the bank – gold ones, silver ones and black patent. The gold ones are still under my desk.  At one time I had over 10 pairs of shoes under my desk.

I can’t wear them any more!  My feet no longer grip them.  This destroys me.  It’s my persona.  I miss me.  Instead I have been reduced to tie shoes – back to my childhood.  This is not right.  I mean really. No flip flops?  Also no beach, no walking.  This cannot continue.

So what do I do?  I’ll tell you, I haven’t thrown out a pair, even the pink platform ones.

With work this summer, maybe I can wear them again.

Another Doctor’s Visit and MC

Well, I went back to the doctor for a check up after Ampyra.  I wore a dress as I had had an important meeting at work.  So peach sheath with eyelet lace top, white shawl, pearls, the spectral leg and palomino tie shoes.  She told me how good I looked and loved the shoes.  I don’t mind them.  She also assured me that I looked fine.  I hate feeling odd and spastic. In fact, she said I looked great.

My walking is improved.  We knew that already.  She was really happy. I have had no adverse reaction to the drug.  I just read someone else’s blog about drug costs.  I was originally not covered for Ampyra and my insurance blithely told me $1300 – $1500 a month.  I had to go on Affordable care.  I am covered!  But here is what’s odd.  I make more money than I ever have but drug company now is subsidizing!

Now, I have insurance so we can discuss Copaxone.  She told me which I  knew it would be off label, shots ( I don’t do needles) and it’s only been shown to be effective  in men.  Our decision?  No.

Next we discussed my scans.  Again, due to Affordable care I can afford them.  I was dreading this as my hands are going.  Right now I am not typing this at my regular, typical speed.  Forget my already bad handwriting.  There are times I can’t use my fork properly.  This annoys me as growing up I was told “don’t shovel”.  My husband has to put up my hair. And my left foot feels like a club.  The MRI says NOTHING has changed.  Now this makes no sense.  I used to walk into that office with heels.  I didn’t wear spectral leg all the time nor a cane!

Our feeling is that’s why we call it MC for my condition.  We don’t think it’s the other.  I believe this first ran amok in my system when I had no job or dental insurance and a hole in my mouth and subsequent infection.  I eventually had work done.  And recently, the bridge ( same tooth) was really loose.  I was bleeding through my teeth there.  I had a cavity filled.  The dentist was going to remove the bridge and remains of the tooth.  His words  when he went in, “It’s very mushy”  Lots and lots of decay which means poison in my body!  I have to go to the oral surgeon for this and my wisdom tooth removal.  I am supposed to do it at the same time.  More drugs in my future.  I have a meeting with the head of my company July 31 and don’t want to take chances so will schedule right after.  We think this will help me improve.  I am also going to be more aggressive in eating clean foods and the exercise.     Improvement will and can happen.

Vanity, the Spectral Leg and Vows

cropped-shoe-with-brace.jpgI have always been consumed with the way I looked.  I joke “Clothing is my life”.  I can look at a picture and know by the clothes I was wearing what was going on.  It’s how I express myself.  For example, at a certain period in my life, if I was wearing pants to work, it meant I was unhappy and didn’t want to be at that job.

I grew up in a household where “ladies didn’t wear trousers”.

And I was/am a dress and heels kind of woman.  People would say Oh we are getting older now we don’t need to wear heels.  Or isn’t it wonderful that flats are in fashion.  NOT.

I used to walk a 15 – 17 minute mile.

When I went to get fitted for the spectral leg as I call my brace or as the doctor calls it my appliance, the ortho guy told me I would never wear a skirt or heels again and I would have one on both legs and probably my hands.  Can I tell you I will never go to that man again or recommend him?

I still have only one spectral leg which I am actively looking to ditch.  I do still wear skirts and therein is the problem.  I used to take the spectral leg off at work and wear reasonable kitten heels or flats.  Somewhere along the line, I began to fear and kept the spectral on all day.  I had some relatively cute black lace oxfords for summer.  I bought a sensible pair of black oxfords in the fall.  Doesn’t that sound awful – sensible black oxfords?  And I bought some wonderful clothes – beautiful sheath dresses, a skirt with panels.  They look great when I am seated or when I am behind something but the full length?  It’s horrid. It makes me feel really old and ugly.

This is bad for my health, seriously.  My image is intrinsically part of who I am and if I am feeling old and ugly, it’s not good.  I don’t want to hear the nonsense about blah, blah well you are lucky you can still walk.  Uh, I get that but there’s more to me.  And I said when this whole thing started I wasn’t going to let it define me and those freaking shoes do.

So, I keep on looking for something that will be less obtrusive.  Mail order hasn’t been working.  Today we went to Lord and Taylor, one of my favorite stores.  Major shoe sale.  My husband says let’s try it, It’s the first time I have tried to try on shoes in public.  The spectral leg just hung out.  I tried to try on three pairs of shoes.  It did not go well.  And then my husband put the appliance back in the sneaker (it’s the weekend) tied my shoe and covered my leg with my pants.  The salesgirl (she was young) just stood there and said “Wow, till death do us part and all”.  I said “Things happen and life keeps on changing.”  It’s one of my mottos.

But this is not the life we thought about.

We have been through a lot together, sometimes me, sometimes him.  Who knew those vows really meant something?  I am amazed and grateful that we are doing the “in sickness and in health”.  They are not just words.  They are our reality.

One of my doctors said she had noticed a spiritual evolution in me.  I don’t see it.  But there are moments like today with my husband on his knees in a department store helping me that I know grace.