I was looking forward to enjoying the next steps in my life after retirement, when a painful and sudden incident began to paint a dark cloud over these dreams. Just over two years ago, I was enjoying a play with friends and family when standing up to leave the theater left me with intense pain in my lower back and leg. After being diagnosed with a herniated disc, I had back surgery, which I was hoping would not only take away the pain that I was feeling, but allow for the return to the active lifestyle that I had already begun to enjoy.
Unfortunately, this didn’t happen. In fact, I woke up in worse pain than prior to this surgery. The pain, which radiated from my left buttock, down the left leg and into my foot, made it impossible to walk or even lift my foot.
Foot drop was unknown to me at this time and I couldn’t even think about my foot because it was difficult to even get out of bed. After spending the summer off of my feet, on various pain meds, making several trips to pain clinics for various testing as well as physical and even swim therapy, nothing was working to alleviate the pain.
Although the discomfort began to subside after continuing physical therapy, I was still unable to lift my left foot. As a result, I was fit with a plastic Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO), which finally got me back up on my feet and out from under the cloud of depression that began to set in. Unfortunately, this temporary fix was just that, temporary. This device was not only clunky, but uncomfortable, which made it very difficult to wear for great lengths of time. So much for enjoying a long walk with our dogs or a fun day at the beach with my grandchildren!
Despite having some ability to become more mobile, depression was quickly setting in. That was until help finally arrived! After spending time trying almost everything under the sun, including online braces, socks, creams and potential surgeries, I decided to visit an orthopedic specialist. Hoping that I would be a good candidate for a tendon transfer, I was once again left questioning my future after finding out that this would not be a viable option.
After returning to our home in Vermont, I continued rehabilitative swim therapy while making regular follow-up visits to our family physician. Since my mobility and confidence continued to be compromised and I was still falling around our home, I decided to schedule an appointment with a specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital. Despite hoping that I would receive approval on a tendon transfer to alleviate the foot drop that I was suffering from, I was once again turned down. Little did I know this would be a blessing in disguise.
In fact, I wish I had done this sooner, I was so hung up on trying to fix my foot drop…. research, surgery etc. until I went to Boston and saw an orthopedic surgeon to see if I was a candidate for a tendon transfer. He was great. After the exam, he sat me down, looked me in the eye and said I was not a candidate. He then went on and laid it on the line… in my words, “no fix, this is my life now”, he told me what kind of brace I needed and asked if I could do that?
As we were driving home I started surfing the web for “living with foot drop”, and the first site I opened was “Get Back Up Today” (Allard Braces). I couldn’t believe I found them, I knew then that it was “divine intervention”. Listening to all the stories of others, I also knew that I was going to be fine, so I turned the corner and here I am today with my Allard BlueRocker™.
I’m not sure I mentioned it, but I am 74-years-old. I am not terribly athletic, but prior to having foot drop, I led an active lifestyle spending winters in Florida and summers in Vermont. When this wasn’t possible I became angry and depressed. With my old plastic AFO I could barely go grocery shopping, walk the beach at our home in Florida, walk our dogs, play Mahjong or even enjoy time playing with my grandchildren.
After being fit with an Allard brace, I became a new woman! I just love my BlueRocker and enjoying all the things that I love, thanks to my new Allard brace. When I put it on in the morning I’m so amazed and it’s on for the day. It’s so easy to do errands, work around the house, and I’m even playing golf. I have also been trying to increase walking time, and I now average about 20-30 minutes at a time. Although I get a little wobbly at times, I’m so much better and my brace has become part of me. In fact, I don’t even notice my foot problem.
I have joined the ladies 9 Holers Golf Group within my Florida community and even volunteered to help with a Valentine’s lunch and golf scramble. I couldn’t do all this without my brace. I am also honored to be joining the Get Back Up community, where I hope that I can be an inspiration to others. While I am not a super athlete, I am able to keep moving and enjoying all the things that I love thanks to my new brace. The same is possible for anyone else that might have a story like mine. So remember, no matter foot drop or whatever you may be experiencing with your health, don’t let anything stop you – no matter what.