In the week or so since my knee went through its huge ‘crunch’ and consequent swelling and inflammation, I’ve been experiencing more intense MS symptoms. They are familiar companions, nerve pain, fatigue, balance problems and they are rather like the moon – a constant, which waxes, wanes and is at times, full and at times, absent.
Today, those constant companions are slowly waning and the strong premonition of a relapse has disappeared.
In January, I made a discovery. I had been experiencing frequent small dislocations of my knees, which temporarily ceased when I wore ankle weights to exercise.
My right leg had become much shorter than the left one. When walking, I had developed a ‘list’ and would have to stop every few steps to do a calf stretch and this was becoming a problem.
I decided to start wearing the ankle weight all day. This weighs one kilo and isn’t tiring to wear.
The effect was almost immediate – my heel was hitting the ground first and I could walk correctly, rolling up through the foot. I do have an MS symptom called ‘foot drop’ where my brain can’t tell where my right leg is and I can’t lift it up to the same extent as the left.
If I walk down stairs and I’m carrying something that obscures my right foot, I can’t see where I’m placing my foot. I have to use a handrail and make sure that I can see the right foot, or my risk of falling is pretty high.
The ankle weight helped me to be more aware of the foot and I realised that I may have solved a long-term problem.
I added an extra weight for walking around inside the house and slowly my posture improved, although the left leg, which had compensated for the lack of muscle mass on the right, was becoming unstable.
The knee was dislocating – moving slightly when I swung the leg and this would either hurt intensely, or not, but the feeling was similar to an electric shock.
I decided to start wearing an ankle weight on the left leg as well and this did help, but the ligaments at the back of the knee would jump out of their notches in the bone and the knee would give way, or become locked, which was distressing.
These problems eased within a couple of weeks and I could focus on practicing my correct walking technique – retraining my brain to make precise steps.
I still wear two ankle weights, but the right leg has improved so much, that it is now the same length as the left one. My arthritis pain has subsided and I my knee bend is about 30% better and, I can cycle without pain and my right foot can sit properly on the pedal, where previously I had to just place part of my foot on the pedal as the knee couldn’t bend enough.
Now that I can cycle again, I must and there’s a long, gentle hill just waiting to hear my panting and swearing.
On a less refined note, I’m eating a very low carbohydrate diet. If I feel hungry, I take a spoonful of whipped cream, which satisfies the hunger without causing a spike in blood glucose. The cheapest cream for whipping is a brand called Ram. Ram cream. Do not think about it for too long. Really, don’t.