Sometimes I think of my right foot as a patient who has been forgotten in a back ward of an old hospital for years.
In the first summer after the stroke, my PT encouraged
me to walk on the beach without my brace and without shoes every so often to
stimulate my feet. I tried it
one or two times, but I gave up after realizing how many challenges I would have to overcome: the weakness in my ankle; the
crushing fatigue; getting my shoes and brace off and on with one hand; etc. I also experimented briefly with walking barefoot in the house, until I had a few near misses with cans and knives in the kitchen.
Now my feet are usually are hidden away in thick shoes every day, except for bedtime and naps, and also for leg exercises on the living room rug (my yoga teacher has tried to coax sensation and movement, with some success, from my right toes).
So this was my challenge last week: to putter around the house barefoot for more than an hour. With bare feet, I unloaded the dishwasher; made lunch; sorted papers between the pile in the kitchen and the pile in the dining room.
It was tiring. Partly because spasticity can make feel as if I will topple over without the steadying influence of my shoes. But mostly, my right foot and toes seem to be terribly disoriented and confused. They ask: is the floor really cold? Or is that pain? Are all the toes pointing up or lying flat? And where, exactly, am I?
I know I have to walk barefoot more often to stimulate my foot. But right now, it feels like an act of faith, rather than an exercise.
12 hours ago