Time for change

So, yesterday I took a trip to the hospital to have a discussion about my callipers and pick up some new boots that it’s hoped will help them stop cutting into me a giving e blisters quite so much. I went in there knowing that we’d also be looking at some of the other options that we could try. More on the new footwear in a minute, I promise.

A couple of weeks back, I went to a clinic appointment where someone suggested that we could try using something called Spring Splints at night instead, which I’ve never had before, but  they said I should discuss that further when I went to pick up my new shoes. I  go to a lot of my appointments on my own these days, (don’t you love being a grown up), but this time I asked my mum if she could come along for the ride to offer some insight into things that had worked well for me when I was a child.

After a bit of a debate, it was decided that we could give these Spring Splints a go when I’m resting, and also cast me for a pair of ridged ankle AFO splints for during the day. I’ve had AFOs before . There’s also discussion of using another course of using another method to help release some of the tightness in my ankles. It’s something that I had done a few times as a child and it worked really well. However, that is only at the discussion stages right now so I’ll mention that later on if it goes ahead.

My callipers
My callipers

Anyway, back to the shoes. They look pretty much the same as the ones in this picture, only with one extra strap, and not worn down, obviously. I’ve hunted high and low for a picture of my old splints, but I can’t find one because I used to wear them under trousers or jeans most of the time. Sorry.

When I got my new pair of boots that the callipers slot into, I found that they had an extra strap on the back that should make a difference to the position of my foot so I’ll keep trying to wear them for now until the new stuff comes through. I tried walking around in them for a bit and it’s so far, so good, minus the usual feelings of having to break in any new gear you get for your feet anyway.

I’m nervous about trying the new splints but I’m excited too. I’m willing to try anything that might help in the long or short term so I’ll just have to keep an open mind and see how it goes.

If you or someone you know has tried any of these types of splints, I’d be really grateful if you could leave me a comment or tweet me.

And so, let’s hope that today’s appointment with the occupational therapist goes as well!

Why you probably don’t want to get caught in the rain with me

I’ll admit that I’m probably not the best person to be out and about with when it’s pouring down with rain.

If I’m using my walking frame Martha I walk quite a lot slower than most of the people I hang out with, so can’t dash for cover in a hurry, and I’m pretty sure trying to move a wheelchair at speed with me sat in it isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do either. And if I just so happen to have an umbrella, my designated driver for the day usually gets hit in the face by it a few times (unintentionally, I promise.)

I know that Martha and my callipers don’t really like the wet weather all that much either, because they both tend to develop, high-pitched squeaks of protest and everyone around can hear us coming for miles. It’s bad enough when it’s just one of them, but when they both start kicking off, it gets really, really annoying.

And yet, despite all this, my dear mother has still offered to take me, along with Martha and my callipers to the shops today when it eases off a bit.

Thanks, Mum 🙂

Calliper/blister update

My callipers
My callipers

Well, I went to the hospital to show them that my callipers and boots have been blistering me again, and, as promised, I thought I’d give you all an update.

The man looked at my feet and how they sit inside boot and suggested that we try adding some extra straps to another pair that will change my foot position and hopefully be more comfy to wear. He ordered them and suggested that I come in for a fitting rather than just collecting them so that he could show me how to attach the calliper to them because it will be slightly different this time around. I’m just hoping that I’ll manage to get them on by myself, although I don’t see why not.

With this will then come some upping the ante on my physio and stretching regime, but that’s probably a good thing to do anyways.

As for the chaffing that the callipers did to my legs when I first got them back in January, I showed him the mark that is still on my leg (although somewhat fainter now, which is good) and when he found out that I wear them over the top of my jeans rather than underneath them, he suggested that it might be a good idea to wear jeans with small seems in case that was what had irritated my skin in the first place. They haven’t rubbed there for ages though so I’m hoping that that part has sorted itself out at least. I know that I could hide them under my clothes if i really wanted to, but I figured that seeing as I spend my time wondering around with a big blue walking frame, it seems a little bit pointless, if you ask me.

So, there you have it. Not all that much to tell really, but let’s hope it works. Needless to say, I’ll keep you posted.

My lack of summer shoes

One of the downsides of summer for me is that I can’t wear summer shoes. In years gone by this hasn’t been too much of a problem for me because it hasn’t ever really got that warm, but boy, oh boy, I am feeling it this year.

I’m not able to wear flip-flops or open toe sandals to help me keep cool in the heat, and I’m still limited to my usual choice of callipers, boots or trainers. Usually this doesn’t bother me too much. If I’m honest, because I’ve never done it, the idea of wearing flip-flops seems totally odd to me. The idea of wondering around all day with something shoved between two of your toes and having the sole of your foot slapped by whatever they’re wearing every time you take a step seems like it would really get on my nerves, but I guess you must get used to it after a while.

Maybe there would be something different I could wear, I don’t spend enough time in shoe shops to really notice.

For the past week, I’ve taken to wearing an old pair of ankle boots I bought a couple of years back. My callipers are too warm to wear at the moment, and they’ve blistered my feet really badly again anyway. This happens every so often and I’m not really sure why, but I’m off to the hospital next week to hopefully try and get the problem sorted out. They don’t blister me as much as the AFO splints that I used to wear, but still, it’s not nice when they do. My foot was so sore last week that my boyfriend even offered to carry me so that I wouldn’t have to walk on it until I could change into something that wouldn’t irritate me quite so much. I didn’t take him up on the offer, as tempted as I was by the time I got home.

For now, I guess I should look on what I guess you could call the brightside: at least I have an excuse to wear something that’s not quite so warm without having to feel guilty about no wearing the callipers.

Every cloud, eh?

Customising my callipers

My callipers
My callipers

For a while now I have been toying with the idea of customising my callipers. It’s not that I don’t like them the way they are or that I’m ashamed to wear them or anything I just think they look a bit…well, dull. I never bother to hide them under my jeans and just wear them on the outside of them in plain sight. When I first got them I was still using my old kaye walker Betsy which was silver, but now that I have Martha in all her blue glory, I think they could do with jazzing up a bit.

When I used to wear AFO leg splints I had them in all kinds of varieties from swirly blue patterns, to butterflies and Tweety Pie.  My first pair of leg gaiters that I used to sleep in at night had the 100 Acre Wood and Winnie the Pooh.

My walking frames too have not been exempt coming in a range of colours, some of them being given names and sometimes having little mementos from holidays and various events like ribbons.

I know that not everything I use over the years and look interesting but that doesn’t mean that I can’t do it for myself. The thing is, now that I’m getting older I’m not really sure how to go about doing it. Now that I’m looking for work I don’t think it would be very acceptable for me to cover them in stickers or glitter anymore.

I was thinking that maybe I could paint them but then I have to decide on a colour. I could paint them black so that they would go with anything, but then purple in my favourite colour but I’m not sure if it would be frowned upon.

I may not end up customising them at all but it’s something that I would quite like to do if I can find a good and simple way of doing it.

If you have an idea or opinions of if and how I could do it, let me know. If you think it’s a bad idea, tell me that too.

The agony of shoe shopping

My callipers
My callipers

As I’ve said before clothes shopping is hard but shoe shopping is harder. Clothes shopping I love, shoe shopping I hate. Well, actually I take that back. I love wondering around shoe shops if I’m just doing it to pass an afternoon, but I really hate trying to find some to buy.

Most of the time, I’m supposed to wear special shoes (like the ones in this photo). As you can see they have holes in the side that my callipers slot into and insoles inside them to help me walk. Sometimes I break the rules and put on something that bought myself from a normal high street store. I don’t do this very often but if the boots or my callipers have been rubbing my feet and legs it’s just nice to have a change in pressure points. I scrape my shoes along the floor when I walk too so I wear the toes out quite quickly so when I see something in a shop that’s suitable for me and fits, I often buy in bulk for “just in case” days.

Finding something to wear is a challenge though, because there’s way more types of footwear that I’m not allowed to wear than things I can. I’ve never worn a flip-flop, slip on shoes fall off me because of the way I walk, and high heels are a no-go for so many reasons. This pretty much limits me to boots and trainers. Even then I have to find ones that offer me enough support around the ankles, don’t come off at really inappropriate times and that I can actually balance in. Oh, and then there is the small matter of shoe laces. I think it’s fair to say that when it comes to hunting out that new bit of glam for my feet I have a very specific criteria.

A lot of my friends, both disabled and able-bodied, male and female, tell me that they all too have their own set of needs and I’m not alone. Some hate stilettos, others dread buying trainers and a few hate trying to find something they can wear to work.

In my head I know that I too would probably avoid anything with a heel over an inch anyway and I personally think that flip-flops look really painful on your toes, but it’s the fact that I know I can’t wear them that makes me drool over them all the more. It’s kind of how I imagine it feels to give up chocolate.

The first pair of shoes I think I remember getting that I didn’t wear with some kind of splint that I thought was special were a pair of white and silver dolly shoes that I was allowed to get for a family wedding. Because they had elastic straps going over the top we knew they’d stay on. I was really excited and spent the whole day telling anyone who’d listen about them.

My last shoe purchase this year was back in January and they were a pair of red and black trainers. I don’t wear them often because I can’t get them on by myself and I don’t want to wear them out too quickly like I do with all my others. I may not be able to buy many pairs, but I more than make up for this with my bag collection, which is huge.

Squeaking in the rain

My callipers
My callipers

Over the years, I’ve tried lots of different things to improve my walking. I’ve tried various leg splits, sleeping with my lower limbs strapped into something called gaiters to keep them stretched out at night, and even surgery. This year though we decided to be different and try something I’ve never had before: callipers.

I’m willing to give anything a go that has a chance at keeping me on my feet longer than I would be if I didn’t try so when they were suggested I jumped (not literally) at the opportunity. I prepared myself for breaking in pains, possible blisters and even being told to “Run Forrest, run” from time to time. One thing I was not ready for though, was the endless squeaking. I didn’t realise there would be squeaking.

Now, every time I go out in the rain I find myself sympathising with the poor old Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. I only have to put up with it until I can get home again and put something on them to stop it, how must he have felt?

If I’m honest I’m used to my equipment making higher pitched noises that I’m pretty sure no human could make. My old wheelchair developed such a bad one in high school that I could be heard coming to my lesson all the way down corridor and even Betsy wouldn’t hesitate to let me know when she was unhappy about the weather conditions, but they didn’t bother me as much. The noise is far much more irritating when you realise it’s actually coming from you and not something you have with you.

Still, I shouldn’t complain and if it helps my legs get better then it’s a small price to pay and I’ll happily put up with it for as long as it takes. It just means that I’d be useless at a game of Hide and Seek because you’d probably hear where I was going and I don’t think I’ll be getting a call from any spy agencies anytime soon. Ah well, c’est la vie, I guess…