I’ve spent a lot of time (years) trying to get my MS-affected left leg to work better. I’ve worked on the strength and flexibility of my ankle. I’ve tried to keep my left knee from hyperextending through countless variations of hamstring and quadricep exercises. I’ve tried to stabilize my hip. And even though rehabbing flare-ups has been tough, I’ve been able to keep my leg pretty functional thanks to the exercises you'll see inside The Neuro Studio, our online studio and passion project.
The worst side effect I've experienced is a joint contracture caused by spasticity in my calf, and it has been consistent for about eight years. On August 23, I was going to schedule surgery to lengthen that muscle and try to recover some lost range of motion to see if I could get some improvement.
But that didn’t happen.
That morning, I took my puppy to the dog park. While I was watching him run around, smelling all the other dogs and generally being a very good boy, two other dogs were playing a game of chase. I’d estimate they were between 80-100 pounds each. And all of that weight, going as fast as they could run, did a quick turn and slammed into my leg, breaking it in three places.
It was my left leg. My "bad leg." And now I’m largely out of commission - fully non-weight bearing, on crutches or in a wheelchair, till at least Thanksgiving. My leg is held together with cadaver bone, two plates, eight screws, and more than four hours of surgery.
Although it always sucks to break your leg, the thing that I thought immediately was, "why does it have to be my left leg?" Everything is always harder for me to do with this leg, and has been since my first bad MS flare-up in 2002.
If I say honestly how I feel about it, I’m angry. I’m angry that I work so hard to keep my body strong and now I have months and months of rehab to try to get back to where I was - and even more than that to get where I wanted to be. I’m angry that a surgery I wanted to have to walk better is pushed back until next year at the earliest, because I have to fully heal from this before I can even think of tackling that (and all of the rehab that surgery was going to entail). I’m not angry at the dogs, because it wasn’t their fault that I couldn’t jump out of their way. I’m just angry that life decided to give me another mountain to climb health-wise. I feel this way when I have a flare-up, too. Like, enough God/universe/life. I mean, come on!
So, if you are a person with a neurological condition and you’re feeling down, know that I get it. I got it when I just had MS and not MS and a broken leg. I know that it’s tough and unfair and there are some very bad people out there to whom nothing bad seems to ever happen. I know that it feels like we sometimes can’t catch a break (so to speak).
I don’t have an inspirational message for you this month. The good news is that you can head over to our Facebook page to see some of the amazing progress that our teachers are having with their neurological clients. That whole “tough times don’t last” thing is true more often that not. I promise you’ll be inspired by them. And, I’ll be posting something later today because I’ve decided I’m going to try to go back to work with my trainer. I have no idea what we’ll be doing. I just know I won’t be wallowing in what I can’t do. Right now though...right now, I’m taking a minute to be angry and sad. If you need a day, take it. Regardless of what’s going on in your life, you’ve earned it.