An orthopaedic physician wrote me a prescription for an AFO in January 2009, a hard plastic brace that goes up the back of your leg and lifts your foot up when you walk. In other words, it assists someone with a drop foot deformity, an easy fix to address the symptom and avoid the cause. Yet, once I learned this was my diagnosis after the nerve damage had taken its toll from two severe sprains before, there were never any therapeutic discussions of how to deal with the discomfort of wearing braces with shoes or what shoes really worked with the braces. I felt my physician abandoned me to an easy fix: braces. There are real foot troubles that result from long term use of this flawed footwear, which greatly influence a patient's health overtime. The physical deterioration includes atrophy of the muscles from non use, and as the surrounding muscles weaken the toes begin to hammer. My gait was unbalanced because I didn't have a stable base to stand on. The uncomfortable sensations to my feet now saturated my immeasurable suffering, and the struggle to find footwear to accommodate the deformity after prolonged use of the AFOs invited fear and depression.
After hundreds of dollars invested in shoes, socks, inserts and devices designed to ease pain in certain areas inside the shoe, I decided to slice the top of my closed shoe and provide room for my toes. I'd shopped around at numerous shoe stores, outlets and online shoe catalog stores for shoes to wear with braces; nothing worked.
There are salient footwear factors in both my pre and post surgical ordeals. Before I had rods drilled through me to stabilize my ankle, and pins to straighten out my toes I wore braces on both feet to keep me from tripping. This arrangement did not always work because the perils of falling and re fracturing my tail bone loomed around every corner I walked. What happened to the physician accompanying me through this footwear ordeal? I had a need for information in how to walk with braces and instead I was abandoned--left to figure it out on my own. My orthopaedic physician was oblivious to my horror of my change in status of now having to wear braces. He peered into my file appearing quite smug at rendering my diagnosis of requiring braces. If the shoe was on the other foot...I just can't avoid this idiom.
|AFO- Foot Brace|