Writer’s Workshop: A Question of Balance

Yes, it’s an album by The Moody Blues from 1970, which features the song “Question,” but I’m not going to talk about that. Instead, I’m going to complain like an old man about my aches and pains. Sorry.

Since my stroke in 2007, balance has become a serious issue for me. Lose it, and I’m on the floor, and I have to get myself up somehow. Not the easiest thing to do: I have the weight issue, plus, as I learned yesterday, my right leg has a maximum bend ability of only 66°. According the the physical therapist that saw me yesterday, that should be around 120°, and 90° is workable. So, I struggle to bend my leg enough to get back on my feet.

I’m lucky in that I haven’t fallen that much in nine years. That’s both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, I haven’t had to pick myself up off the floor very often. On the other hand, I haven’t had the practice in getting up, so each time it’s like learning how all over again.

Compounding the balance issue is the lymphedema that I’ve developed since the stroke. When I was in the hospital, they wrapped my leg to get the swelling down, then gave me compression socks to keep the swelling down. That was fine when I had a nurse or technician help me get the things on in the morning and off at night. When I got home, I couldn’t get them on or off without Mary’s help, and she found it even more difficult than I did. We tried some other remedies, but eventually I stopped wearing the compression socks, figuring whatever will be, will be.

Since then, I’ve just lived with the leg swelling up. It doesn’t hurt, but it looks like hell, and the doctor is concerned that the skin is going to start breaking down. Since I’ve been on disability for two years now, I’m eligible for Medicare, so the doctor said okay, I’m going to send you to physical therapy and see what they can do for you. The therapist, Robert, took a look at the leg and said forget it, I’m going to have to send you to another facility where they can wrap it before we can do anything else. So, I have an appointment next Thursday to see what they can do. I’m hoping that whoever I see can get my leg back in shape and figure out some simple solution to the whole compression socks issue.

Right now, my right leg is about ninety percent of my problems. The therapist estimated that one to two gallons of fluid accumulates in the leg every day, and with water at roughly ten pounds a gallon, I’m lugging around a lot of weight, which affects my balance, my gait, and my desire to get up and walk around, which I know would help a lot. And I wouldn’t have the issue of all that fluid wanting to come out overnight (and I’ll just leave it at that).

Mary’s been worried that my upper body strength is becoming an issue, and Robert said occupational therapy might be a solution to that. He also said that my doctor is good about referring patients to therapy, and that Medicare might consider the upper body issue a separate one, which would save me some money and maybe, just maybe, get me so I can write with a pen and play the guitar.

Anyway, thanks for listening, and here’s “Question” from the album.

Today’s blog post was prompted by “Write a blog post inspired by the word: balance.”

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Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

13 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: A Question of Balance”

  1. John, I’m so sorry that you’re going through all this. Balance is something that people who have it take for granted until they don’t have it. Right now I’m taking care of both of my parents and neither one of the have good balance. We just had to call the fire department the other day to get my Dad up: he fell in the backyard and my mom and I couldn’t get him up. It’s very scary so I empathize with what your dealing with.
    Re: the compression stockings: I had surgery years ago ended up with some lymphodemia issues and I had to get those lymphatic massages and wear compression stockings for awhile. They are a bitch to get on. What about using an Ace bandage wrap instead? That could at least deliver some compression to the leg. I’m no doctor so don’t take my word for it. But just wondering if that might be an option for you. Definitely much easier than those compression stockings.
    Best of luck with the physical therapy. Have they mentioned the massages that is supposed to help with the fluid buildup? Maybe your insurance can pay for that service as well…
    Keep us posted. I’ll keep some positive thoughts for you!

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. I actually know someone that does lymphatic drainage massages and went to him for a while. I’ll see what the hospital offers; they mentioned that as a form of therapy along with the leg wraps and compression socks. Medicare and my Medicare Advantage plan are pretty generous when it comes to PT, just a $35 copay for as long as it’s medically necessary.

      The day I got home from the hospital, Mary was trying to walk me into the bathroom and accidentally knocked me over. She had to call someone to help me get up. I had to teach her to stand on my good side to walk me in. Neither Mary nor I had to deal with elderly parents, at least not for long, and I consider myself very lucky…

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  2. Bummer that you are going through such medical problems, John. I guess the compression socks might be like me trying to getting into spanx. I gave that up as well! My husband has back issues and had debilitating ulcers years ago which required two surgeries so I can sympathize with your wife and having to deal with an ailing husband (the balance between keeping your sanity and losing your mind – LOL). Give her a hug for me. Sending positive thoughts your way.

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  3. Hope the PT/OT, wraps, and all work for you. I’m supposed to wear those tight stockings, too, but don’t, because I just can’t get them on/off without exhausting myself. I’ve had balance problems with vertigo off and on for years. I’ve learned to live with it more or less. Only fall down once in awhile, so I know what you mean. Take care, and all my best to you.

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    1. Thanks. Like I mentioned, the sock donner holds the socks open so you can get them on easily. I guess it works for both socks and stockings, whichever you use. Definitely better than lugging a leg full of water around…

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  4. There’s nothing quite as humbling as when our bodies decide to stop working properly for us. I wish I could magically heal it all for you. When I’m not feeling 100% I find it difficult to concentrate about much else. I’m glad you have a supportive team to be there for you!

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    1. Things are much better than they were when I first had the stroke. I had no control over the right side of my body. In fact, for a while I didn’t even realize I had a right side of my body when it happened. Personally I wish I had a time machine to go back a few years, before the stroke and before my blood pressure got out of hand…

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  5. Hi John – I didn’t know about compression socks til I had my hip done last year … then I realised – a right pain they are .. but I only had six weeks to deal with. I sincerely hope the new place next week will alleviate some of your symptoms – it must be challenging to have, but also so difficult to deal with – let’s hope …

    Good luck – and am so pleased you haven’t been falling … take care and with thoughts – Hilary

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    1. There’s what they call a donner that helps you get them on. It holds the socks open so you can get your feet in, then helps you pull them up. Wish I had known about that when I first started wearing them; I don’t think I would have stopped. Keep that in mind in case you ever need to wear them again.

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