BEFORE YOU START: Please note that although I currently volunteer for both the Stroke Association and Age UK, the views expressed in this blog are strictly my own. I am not a spokesperson for either (or, indeed, for any) organisation, and I accept complete responsibility for the views expressed herein. As indicated by the domain name, I am based in the UK and the blog therefore has a UK bias - I've tried to use the Glossary to explain any ambiguous terms, but if you think there is anything I've missed, please message me.

Friday, 3 May 2019

My Left Foot

A few weeks ago I wanted to draw a plan of something. The graphics package I always used to use in business was something called Visio. It's a Microsoft package but it is not included in their Office 365 subscription. I have Office 365 these days because it is the cheapest way of having access to the latest versions on Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc.

Anyway, not included. So I decided to take the plunge and buy myself a copy separately.

Visio is not the kind of graphics software that can be used to e.g. manipulate photographs, but is really good for things like drawing diagrams. And it has lots of clipart, although a bit less now than I seem to remember. I had the bright idea that I could also use it to show graphically how my leg gives me problems at night, but unfortunately, the only hit when I typed in "leg" was a very functional-looking table!

Anyway, not to be deterred, I did a quick web search. As you might imagine, I got a zillion hits, (some of them very attractive!) but struggled to find something which demonstrated what I wanted to show. But I did find these:

I mean, ignore the fact that she is exercising. I'm taking it right out of context but do you see this woman's (left) ankle, the one in the air, how her foot is pretty much flush with her leg? When I'm lying down, that's how mine rests, although I'm mostly lying on my back or side, so my leg is on the mattress.

This can sometimes cause a cramp in my calf. When I say "sometimes", I'm talking in terms of several times per night. I suppose in the same way that my hand tends to curl up into a fist, this "flush" position is natural for somebody who is (a) lying down and (b) has no movement in their ankle.

So, I get cramp. Or, at least, I would do, if I didn't take remedial action. Unlike when I was healthy, I can feel this cramp coming on, and have one or two seconds to react. By changing the position of my foot, I can stop the cramp. I have to hinge my ankle to look like:

 or as close as I can get to that. Do you see, the foot is at 90° to the leg? Both legs? If I can make this adjustment, it puts the brakes on the cramp.

Of course, I have added complications. First and foremost, my ankle doesn't have any power, so I need to use something to put the foot into that position. In fact, I have learned to use my good foot to lift my bad foot - with anything else, I wouldn't get there in time. The second complication is that through having nothing in my ankle, the joint has become a bit seized up. (In fact the exercises I still do are aimed entirely at keeping both my leg and my arm supple, although there has still been some "seized" effect. But, although I have no power in my ankle, it will at least flex enough so as to allow me to walk, say, and this is enough to stop the cramp. I'm kind-of left with the feeling that to recover physically, I should really be stretching things whenever I get the chance. But one day I'll talk about motivation...

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