Wednesday, 2 December 2015

I Can't Pick Up My Left Leg

"Pick up your feet!" I can still hear my Dad saying that to me. I can remember as a kid, walking along with him, my spirit downbeat because we were headed out to participate in some chore I wanted no part of, my feet shuffling along, kicking at stones. If I was really slowing him down, it would be "Pick up your feet, God dammit!" The irony is now I cannot pick up my feet at all. I can't walk.

The irony extends even further. I seem to have lost enough strength in my left arm that I can no longer pick up my left leg, at least not consistently. The last few times I have tried, especially while seated in my wheelchair, I have been unable to complete the task. My arm just couldn't pick up my left foot. In other words, I can't pick up my feet. Sorry, Dad.

As noted, this new challenge occurs pretty much exclusively when I am in my wheelchair. When I am sitting on the bed, I can use my body and the edge of the bed to slide my legs half the way up. When I am on the couch, the lift is less of a distance. My wheelchair seems to be the perfect combination of height and limited sideways shift to require that I do the full lift with my arms, using whatever strength I have.

This is highly problematic for putting on shoes, or socks. This is highly problematic for positioning my feet after I transfer from the toilet, a bed, or anything else for that matter, when I end up in my wheelchair with my feet on the floor instead of on the foot pads. It makes sense that it would happen to my left arm first; it is the weaker side, the side where ALS seems to hit first.

This is not the end of life as I know it. It is just another change. There are work-arounds for this. I can use a "foot strap", a strap that I put at the bottom of my foot, allowing both arms to be part of the lifting process. I can ask for help; Katherine and my Home Care Aides are already on this. Or I can just go without shoes. After all, I'm in a wheelchair. My feet don't touch ground all that often.

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