Returning to St. Louis

Just recently I returned to St. Louis, Missouri for a physical therapy evaluation and follow up with my neurosurgeon, seven months after SDR. I felt much more relaxed during this trip than I had the previous trip back in February, because well, I wasn’t getting cut open this time around. Still, just because I was more relaxed doesn’t mean I wasn’t a bit nervous. I tried hard to ignore the feelings of nervousness and enjoy a little St. Louis sightseeing, venture to places I hadn’t seen because I’d been recovering in the hospital. The follow-up appointment fell on a Monday, so I spent Saturday and Sunday seeing the arch, eating amazing BBQ, and exploring Forest Park, just to name a few activities. This time I was accompanied by my brother, so it was also a great opportunity to spend time together and bond.

At first I couldn’t figure out why I was nervous about my PT eval and follow-up. After all, it really was a chance to show the physical therapists and doctor what I’d been working on after seven grueling months of physical therapy back in NYC. A chance to show them what I could do, if you will.

When I walked into the eval room with the physical therapists, that was the plan. Cane in hand, I prepared to walk. Or show off, I guess. Whatever you want to call it. “Do you want me nearby?” one therapist asked, and immediately I was so relieved.

“I’m so happy you asked that,” I said. She laughed. With the security of her nearby, I took the best steps I could with my trusty cane. After that, we tried walking with my crutches, which felt like a reunion with an old friend. It was easy and comfortable. Almost like I’d never stopped using them. I felt guilty for ever badmouthing them in times of frustration or anger. The crutches give me stability and grant me independence. They allow me to literally take off down the sidewalk and not have to look back or wait for anybody. I realized then I’d taken that for granted.

“Your steps are so much longer with the crutches,” she noted. I replied something like, they definitely are and that I was still working hard on mastering the cane. The lack of forearm support and the different way my balance has to shift when ambulating with a single point cane versus the forearm crutches makes a huge difference. It’s a lot harder. And scarier. Like I said, though, I’m working on it. Just because I have a newfound admiration for my crutches and what they do for me does not mean I’m giving up my cane. After all, I still need to master using it indoors across open space. It’s a process. I quite like the idea of being able to use both devices, crutches and cane. Jack of all trades, maybe? Hah. Kidding!

Needless to say, my eval went rather smoothly. One therapist gave me lifts to place underneath the lining of my sneakers. Those inserts are like magic! They make me feel so much more level and stable. My feet are going to need time to adjust to them but I’m definitely a fan. Big shout out to the team in St. Louis for those magical lifts and for making me feel so at ease.

“Don’t be nervous about seeing the doctor. He’s gonna be so proud of you!” I smiled and truly appreciated those words. Physical therapy has been my life for the past several months and I get the desire for wanting a “gold star” or whatever. At least some kind of pat on the back. This stuff is hard work! I really wanted to make him proud.

My anxiety prodded at me with questions like, what if you mess up? What if he gives you bad news or something? …Pretty harsh, right? It’s almost as if my anxiety doesn’t want me to enjoy anything. Rude. And really annoying. Though, I suppose the “bad news” would be the possibility of my surgeon recommending I have another orthopedic surgery, called PERCS. Honestly, I was very conflicted between my rational mind telling me another surgery would probably be for my own good, and the other part of me that felt totally and completely done with surgeries. Done with casts, pain, rehab. Just done. Pretty petulant of the inner voice in my head to say “But I don’t want another surgery,” no? Or maybe it’s understandable? Anxiously waiting for surgery, the actual act of going under general anesthesia, the arduous recovery and rehab…the whole routine is utterly exhausting. I’m over it.

That’s only the voice in my head. I know PERCS will most likely help me, just like all my other surgeries helped me in the long run. Turns out that during the follow-up, my surgeon recommended I get PERCS done on my heel cords after all. With a brave face, I said I understood but it felt like my heart sank a little bit. Another go around eventually, I suppose. Still haven’t made my final decision about whether or not I’m going to pursue and when but I did tell my surgeon I’d look into it. On a good note, he also said I was doing very well and to continue stretching and exercising. My three-times-a-week physical therapy routine could now slow down to twice a week, and eventually to once a week, as long as I begin personal training at the gym. This is freaking fantastic news. I love personal training. I tried it a few times in the past and enjoyed it very much. Onward to a new routine!

4 thoughts on “Returning to St. Louis”

  1. Since first reading your posts, I’ve come to appreciate ‘one step’ at a time. To develop the courage to resist the fear to look back, yet, taking the next step in a combination of faith and determination to move forward. Old crutches become memory gems and can provide so much comfort when there is a need to fall back to move forward. How else do you get to the pin point of trusting in the single (secure) point of grounded contact that a cane gives. Looking back takes on the dimensions of rapid recall, ‘I can do this, eyes forward – it need not always be a person back there. You have given so much to us, the readers. Keep up all efforts both mental and physical that establish us to stand as we may, to the best of our individual abilities, and then some.

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      1. There is often so much to say and share, but we must leave space for others to step up to the comment box. This post has given me much food for thought – to pass by in silence would have been an oversight on my part.

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