It’s actually been quite a while since my last Physiotherapy appointment; first I was sick then my Physio Jo was, then there was a weekend or two away and my infusion… I’d been keeping up with my exercises – building up the number of repetitions and holds, using my 1lb weights for some and gradually getting stronger and stronger – until eventually I decided the stick was holding me back and that I felt better without it.
Jo knew nothing of this. I was planning on turning up to my appointment today, hobbling on both my sticks, then throwing them down to surprise her. Turns out I didn’t need to wait that long. I actually bumped into her in Marks and Spencer during my first outing in town on Friday and her reaction was just as good, with hugs all round.
So at my appointment today we were at a bit of a loss. No more walking between the parallel bars, what to do?! She assessed my balance whilst walking and said it was very good; I’m still not moving perfectly but these things take time. I told her about the pain I was experiencing in my lower legs and ankles, which at times is accompanied by heat and redness over the area. She checked both feet and ankles over and told me they were a bit tight, but that was only to be expected after so long off my feet, especially when I had been walking quite flat footedly while on crutches. Now that I was bending my foot properly when walking, the ligaments were being stretched out of their new comfort zone, causing the pain.
Again, it is going to take time but the pain should settle down as my ligaments get used to the normal walking motion again. To help, Jo has given me some gentle stretches I can perform whilst sitting – simply wrapping a theraband around the bottom of my foot, holding on to both ends, and pushing my foot down against it. Do the same with someone else holding the band and you can practise pulling the foot up / pushing heel down with some resistance too.
She had a quick look at my hands too, which are very stiff in the morning. I thought this was a new issue, but she thinks that perhaps other pain was so overwhelming in the past that, with it now gone, I’m noticing ‘smaller’ pains that have been there the whole time. Since stiffness is an issue, there is no point splinting the hands at night (which I have had before) because it will just restrict them further. For now, I’ll see how I get on with warm hand soaks before bed and in the morning, alongside some gentle finger and hand exercises to keep each tiny joint mobile. I need to keep an eye on the shape of fingers and especially thumbs though, as they seem to be bending inwards ever so slightly.
For the rest of the appointment we just talked about my progress so far and the future. We decided that I should have a break from the Physio dept, so that I could fill my time with something other than hospitals again. My next appointment will be in September, with some time in the pool too. But I have got some homework in the meantime, (as well as keeping up with my exercises). Jo wants me to learn how to think ahead again and to start making some plans and goals – small things like catching a bus on my own, going shopping with friends, trying an exercise bike and building up to a bike ride next summer, increasing my walking distance, aiming to complete the Cancer Research 5k, finding some ‘active’ hobbies and so on. I’ve always wanted to try Tai-Chi and it seems a gentle start, so I’ve promised to start a local class if I can find one.
Of course there is also walking up the aisle to look forward to now and Jo may even be there to see it – she may be a Rheumatology Physio half the week but for the other half she is photographer extraordinaire…. so who knows, it’d certainly be nice having someone I know and Jo has turned out to be a friend as much as a great physio.
So anyway, even though I won’t be posting much about physio in the next weeks, you can rest assured that I am still working hard at it, because if a flare like this last one ever hits again I want to be ready for it!